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Idiot of the Day

[ 123 ] December 15, 2012 |

Eugene Volokh, for arguing that we should arm public school teachers.


Comments (123)

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  1. Davis says:

    At this point, who the hell cares what these assholes say? Yesterday a man in Beijing entered a school armed with a knife and attacked students, wounding 22. Zero deaths.

    • laura says:

      This is a bit misleading. There have been several fatal knife attacks on schools in China in the past several years. It was lucky this one was non-fatal.

      That said, the broader point is that the murder rate in China is 1.0/100,000 annually and in the US is 4.6/100,000 annually based on recent statistics.

  2. John says:

    I don’t understand why, in the first part of his thought experiment, you’re hiring a full time security guard who doesn’t do any of the things that actual school security guards do on a daily basis, but instead, gets paid to sit around with a gun just in case there’s a spree shooting.

  3. Murc says:

    Silly Erik, it’s just a thought experiment! Only someone looking to politicize things would read it as some kind of endorsement! Eugene Volokh is just starting the conservation. He should be lauded for his refreshing bravery. LAUDED, I tell you.

    • Pestilence says:

      Larded, maybe.

      and feathered.

    • Aaron B. says:

      Actually I thought he posed an interesting question without making any unreasonable assumptions.

      • Withheld says:

        Consider if teachers all had guns. Ignore the possibility that a teacher has a lot of BS as part of the job and could have a really bad day. What are the odds of an accident?

        What are the odds of an accident for a trained gun owner? Whatever they are, note that there are almost 4 million full-time teachers and loads of administrators and part-time staff. Let’s say that 10% of those have guns. So take those odds for one individual and multiply them by the hundreds of thousands of people who now pack heat in their classrooms. How many accidents have to happen before people see it as a bad idea?

        That Volokh took such a simplistic view of gun issues was grotesquely unreasonable and showed (to me, anyway) that he gave little serious thought to his so-called thought experiment.

  4. Murc says:

    I’d like once again to remind people that there are precisely two people at Volokh Conspiracy worth reading; Dale Carpenter and Orin Kerr. And frankly, their continued willing association with the blog taints much of what they have to say.

    Eugene Volokh thinks we should torture people explicitly for revenge purposes and our legal code should reflect that. Ilya Somin and Randy Barnett either want people to starve in the streets or are so dumb they don’t realize the inevitable outcome of their beloved FREEDOM! policies. David Bernstein is an unabashed likudnik.

    • Joe says:

      EV at times is a serious person but as I noted in the thread there, at some point, he does deep down, come off as a tool.

      Orin Kerr is serious and writes some good things about the 4A and was the designated sanity person on PPACA, but deep down, he supports Republican causes. He worked as an assistant of John Coryn, noted his support on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and though he was overly coy about it, probably thought the PPACA lousy policy w/o you know being for the public option or anything. He also went out of his way to favor Ted Cruz for Senate on the blog.

      Anyway, he repeatedly comes off as a passive aggressive sort, including telling people to be nice and then slyly making his own digs while getting all “huh? I don’t understand” when you call him on it.

      The comment stream on the blog is worth reading as well. Dale Carpenter is great but his support of the Elaine Photography case shows no one is perfect.

      • Richard says:

        I agree. Kerr is a Republican, makes no bones about it, but is a serious and thoughtful thinker. He often made the argument that Obamacare was clearly constitutional under existing commerce clause law (although disagreeing with it as public policy). Volokh is often very good, especially in his area of expertise, First Amendment issues. And as noted below, Somin and Volokh are good on Russian/totalitarian issues with personal insight coming from living under Soviet rule. Somin is horrible on Jewish issues, taking the position, along with David Bernstein, that any Jew who supports Democrats is a deluded fool

        But Volokhs support of armed teachers is really stupid

        • It’s worth pointing out that both Somin and Volokh follow the classic pattern of Soviet immigrants (a pattern that I’m only too familiar with from observing it in my own family and their circle of friends). Namely, they are unable to distinguish a conceptual space between the USSR and anything that looks like social democracy. The more politically illiterate among them (that includes basically all of them who didn’t grow up or go to college in the States) simply don’t understand how American politics functions at all; that’s not exaggeration, I routinely have to explain to them the basics of government structure. The more sophisticated among them (like Volokh and Somin) just have a bucket labeled “Statism” and everything they don’t like goes in the bucket and once it’s in there, it gets mixed up with everything else that’s in there too. I don’t seem them as being particularly “good” on any serious issues involving the former USSR.

        • Joe says:

          EV is good on the 1A up to a point but I think he is a bit johnny one note. His take on the Elaine Photography case & speech issues for public accommodations generally, e.g., comes off as somewhat shallow. Comments repeatedly flag complications but he ignores them.

    • J. Otto Pohl says:

      Orin Kerr doesn’t post that often, but is sometimes interesting and almost always reasonable. But, I don’t think I have ever seen any post by Dale Carpenter. I think some of the pieces by Volokh and Somin on how political violence in the USSR and other formerly communist states is remembered or more accurately forgotten are quite good.

    • Pestilence says:

      Those 2 may be worth reading, but while they’re in that cesspool, I’ll never know

    • Barry says:

      And David just posted a piece of sh*t urging people to go to law school.

    • Brandon says:

      hey now, don’t forget the worst-of-the-worst, Zwyicki and Lindgren!

      • Anon21 says:

        Lindgren, fortunately, only shows up once every few months to put out a transparently weak hit on Obama or some other liberal. His contributions really lower the tone over there, which is saying quite a bit when you remember they have Bernstein around.

  5. MAJeff says:

    These crackers have the Republican approach to life down pat: always more tax cuts and always more guns. Those are the solution to EVERYTHING!

  6. Joseph Slater says:

    I like the parts in the comments where folks make the usual teachers-are-so-dumb reflexive points they remember from debates about union rights but still support arming them. Sure, take away their pensions, collective bargaining rights, and dignity, but give them guns.

    • Pestilence says:

      Well it should make future union negotiations interesting

    • NotOnScript says:

      I’ve been thinking the same thing: wingnuts are now supporting turning teachers’ unions into armed militias? Well, I guess it’s right there in the Second Amendment!

      • Joseph Slater says:

        Exactly. Plus, I love the little line in EV’s post about the possibility of a union contract or labor law getting in the way of this — but that could be changed. Hey, where’s my “right to work” as a teacher without being forced to carry a gun?

        • Aaron B. says:

          Actually he says they would volunteer.

        • Barry says:

          ” Hey, where’s my “right to work” as a teacher without being forced to carry a gun?”

          Same place it is under all ‘right to work’ laws – nonexistent.

        • David Nieporent says:

          Come on, Joe; you’re better than this, even if Loomis isn’t. EV was not remotely suggesting that teachers be required to carry guns; the “little line” about union contracts was about whether teachers could be allowed to take on this security role without extra pay.

          • philadelphialawyer says:

            Right, becuase being “allowed” to take on extra, possibly fatal, but certainly dangerous, duties for free is just what most employees want.

            And “allowed” is a pretty misleading word….if something is “allowed” what is to stop a “right to work” employer from insisting on it? “Sure, Mr. or Ms. Prospective Teacher, we will consider your application, but we are really looking for a concealed carry art teacher…of course, the concealed carry program is voluntary and you don’t HAVE to participate, but, well you know….”

            As Edgerin James once said when it came to doing extra workouts in the off season, “I may not have gone to college for very long, but I went long enough to know what ‘voluntary’ means.” Unfortunately, employers, whether they be the NFL or school boards, don’t, or, at least, pretend not to, when it comes to the peons they employ.

            “Allow” indeed!

    • Hogan says:

      But also make them targets. We can call it the “Shoot the Teacher First” Act of 2013.

    • SatanicPanic says:

      It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to make whatever bad happens in schools (shootings, union strikes, their childrens’ poor performance) the fault of teachers, because teachers have the nerve to work for the government.

    • RepubAnon says:

      The idea Mr. Volokh was presenting was to allow teachers to volunteer to both undergo basic firearms safety training and be licensed to carry firearms in their classrooms.

      Other than the obvious safety issues (here, the gun-grabbers would be elementary school students wanting to play with the shiny toy), I find it amusing that Mr. Volokh thinks that cash-starved school districts have enough money for guns, basic firearms training, and proficiency shooting at the range for elementary school teachers. These days, the underpaid teachers have to buy classroom supplies from their own salaries – now they’re expected to use their own money to buy guns and appropriate training as well?

      It’s also telling that Mr. Volokh feels that only minimal inexpensive) training would be required – after all, we wouldn’t want to spend real money on protecting the children (or educating them, or getting them health care), would we?

      However, I feel we should embrace the idea of required firearms safety training and licensing. The reason we’ve got such a large firearms industry is that one can purchase a feeling of empowerment for a few hundred dollars. I expect the glamour would lessen if, instead, one was first required to purchase and undergo basic firearms safety training, pass regular proficiency testing at a licensed firearms range, store the gun in a locked cabinet with trigger locks on each weapon – and purchase firearm insurance – before being allowed to buy a simple revolver. (Advanced training and special licenses would be needed for owning semi-automatic handguns and still-higher licensing for military-grade weaponry.)

    • Kyle Huckins says:

      Get them good an angry and then arm them. That should end well.

  7. Joe says:

    Mass murder of kids. First post on blog — “you know, some people ask if armed people can stop tragedies. here’s a few cases where some .. well, stopped them after they killed and/or shot a few people” … second post: “thought experiment! let’s, no stay with me even though this will sound stupid …”

    Follow-up to his “let’s find some stupid speech laws, rarely dealing with union or abortion or other left leaning subjects, or doing the hard work of actually formulating policies to deal with things like cyberbullying.” He does point out some stupid anti-religious laws to be somewhat consistent and provides some reason to his subject matter, but on certain issues, his knee-jerkish side comes out.

  8. Julia Grey says:

    I took the thought experiment seriously and noted that the security guards would be out in the halls and at the doors, and their sole job would be to stop an armed incursion, while the teachers would be inside random classrooms and distracted by their actual job of teaching. Therefore the security guards would be more likely to be effective in halting/limiting the shooter.

    Secondarily, the security guards would be UNIFORMED as such, and would therefore be less likely to be mistaken for perpetrators by the police. Armed civilians roaming the joint would be more likely to be shot by mistake by late responders.

  9. Rarely Posts says:

    And, a teacher regularly interacting with dozens (sometimes hundreds) students in close proximity, focusing on their teaching and discipline, will be perfectly capable of keeping each of the students from ever snagging the gun. Because, as a student, I never participated in stupid pranks or misbehavior, and I never witnessed another student do it either. Moreover, the teacher’s variety of obligations in teaching and disciplining students will in no way increase the risks of their distraction as compared to, say, a security guard who’s sole obligation to maintaining security.

  10. Speak Truth says:

    Why we think we need to discover solutions to these problems when others have better outcome?

    1) El Al Airlines never gets bombed although they are the biggest target of all.
    2) I don’t see mass murders in Israeli schools much either. What are they doing that is working for them?

  11. J.W. Hamner says:

    I dunno… it might be Glenn Reynolds who opens his anti gun control op-ed with a Burroughs quote. You know, the dude who got drunk and shot and killed his wife.

  12. Joe says:

    If one wants to be a strong supporter of gun ownerships, instead of going this route, perhaps you can address stopping the mentally ill or troubled individuals by various policies that make it more likely the violent few among them won’t abuse guns. This will only take you so far as well, of course, but “more guns” isn’t the only solution.

  13. Let’s introduce firearms into classrooms full of students, and put them on the persons (or in the desks?) of teacher who are otherwise occupied trying to do fifty things at once.

    Sure, that’s a great idea. Have you ever seen an older teacher try to operate a DVD player?

  14. LosGatosCA says:

    Guns don’t fail, they can only be failed. I’m not seeing the most obvious alternative being suggested anywhere: give the kids gun training in pre-school and require every elementary school to arm the students to return fire. The let the pro-gun, anti-abortion god sort it out.

    The root of the problem isn’t the gun worshipping culture, it’s that people of all ages don’t understand their societal obligations to uphold the gun culture on every level and not get distracted by the collateral damage of living in the greatest civilization in the known universe.

    You can’t make a armed militia without scrambling a few brains.

  15. Speak Truth says:

    Ya’ know I can see Erik’s point, here.

    The unions have dumbed down the current pool of teachers so much so that today’s schoolteachers may, indeed, be just too stupid to train in the safe and effective use of firearms.

    Good call, Erik

    • pete says:

      Kindly change your nym to Dunning–Kruger

    • You have neither the intelligence nor the spine to last a single day as a teacher.

      You would curled up in a corner with wet pants within 20 minutes of walking into a middle school classroom in Lowell.

    • dave3544 says:

      I like that unions can dumb down a pool of teachers. I’m guessing that the thought is that all the smart people who want to be teachers look at the state-bankrupting benefits, lifetime job security, non-stop vacations, and insanely high pay and say “No thank you!”

      Or do all the smart teachers move to non-union states where education is so much better without the unions dumbing everyone down?

      What’s the mechanism unions use? Union meetings? Dues deduction? How do they dumb down that pool, exactly?

    • RepubAnon says:

      “There are parts of our vast country where the people are lucky enough to have teachers who know so little about the theories of teaching that they impart to their pupils more information than the law demands.” (Source: Our Country’s Future – published in 1889.)

      Conservatives have been bemoaning the terrible consequences of “professional educators” on the public schools for over a century now. Odd how they keep repeating the same tired ideas over and over again – and how people keep listening.

      Of course, they knew better than to propose arming teachers in the late 1800s…

      • RepubAnon says:

        The 1889 date isn’t a typo, either: “Our Country’s Future” was endorsed by “President Harrison” and “ex-President Grover Cleveland.” It also has a chapter on “The Demon of Divorce” and other issues that the right has been citing as evidence of society’s imminent collapse for over one hundred years. If the theories were valid, one would have expected collapse long ago.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        I should look this book up.

    • Leeds man says:

      The unions have dumbed down the current pool of teachers

      I suspect most teachers are smart enough to be able to google “Israel gun laws”.

  16. brandon says:

    Alternate, equally plausible and more carefully considered thought experiments:

    – install tear gas systems in schools parallel to the sprinkler systems

    – affix balls-and-chains to everyone’s ankles, so if they do decide to go nuts with a gun, at least they can’t go from one place to the other very fast

    – require everyone to wear glasses that make them super nearsighted, whenever they go out of the house

    – ban guns, give everyone swords instead

    – ban school

  17. Aaron B. says:

    Let’s say Volokh’s thought experiment is just a facade for advocacy and he honestly thinks this is a good idea (as uncharitable as that interpretation is). I still think it’s a useful thought experiment, because it forces us to think about whether or not law-abiding citizens being armed would do a good job preventing further violence. I know the default response at this blog is “it just turns into a firefight and more people get hurt,” but I think it’s important to actually defend our position on that issue rather than just snark are way through it, since this is actually one of the arguments the pro-gun case turns on.

    • Hob says:

      How is that any more “useful” than the last 10,000 times we’ve read the same exact shit? Why do we need Eugene Volokh to “force us to think”, and why is it important for commenters at this blog to engage in public debate with his regurgitation of such a familiar right-wing chestnut? You can’t seriously believe that none of the people responding here have been through this argument before.

      • Aaron B. says:

        Speaking from personal experience as someone who did competitive debate for eight years, the number of times I’ve heard a thoughtful, interesting, enlightening and accurate gun control debate can be counted on one hand. I think we should take the debate seriously, because addressing other peoples’ concerns in a thorough, reasonably charitable way is the only way we’re ever going to make social progress on building a consensus. Given that none of us are actually policymakers I think it’s safe to say that if all we’re going to do is argue about it on the Internet we might as well do so in a way that will advance the discussion.

        • Hob says:

          Again, you are assuming that the people currently engaged in angrily making fun of Eugene Volokh have never actually given any thought to their opinions (“forces us to think”?!), and have never tried speaking in a more “thorough, reasonably charitable” way to pro-gun people in their own lives who might actually listen, and who aren’t saying totally fucking insane things like “let’s arm kindergarten teachers.”

          That’s a rather insulting assumption, and not one that “advances the discussion.”

        • Hob says:

          I can see how someone who did competitive debate for eight years would think that everyone should talk that way, though. I don’t mean that as an insult– just that competitive debate is a very specific pursuit that encourages a certain point of view that isn’t very often applicable to the rest of life.

          People in the non-competitive-debate world, if they hear person A say something extreme and blatantly stupid that flies in the face of their own personal experience, and then they hear person B say “Well, let’s consider your argument there; I think that might actually have some negative consequences,” are unlikely to think “Oh good, person B is making a thorough, respectful argument.” They’re more likely to think one of the following: 1. “Person B is kind of weird and perhaps not very smart, because person A is obviously just an idiot or else was just trying to get a rise out of us”; 2. “Person B is being sarcastic and pretending to address that stupid idea seriously, as if this were a debate team or something”; or 3. “Huh, I thought person A was just an idiot or was just trying to get a rise out of us, but apparently he was making a policy argument that is worthy of serious discussion.”

          • Aaron B. says:

            Jesus. I’m not saying you’re a disengaged idiot who’s never given serious voice to their opinions about gun control. My point is precisely that even though you may have had this debate a hundred times before, do it again with good cheer and a willingness to listen. That’s the only way we’re ever going to make any progress. Even if you in particular don’t need Eugene Volokh to “make you think” (why are you getting so hung up on this?) use it as a springboard to start the debate all over again.

            On how engaging with people whose arguments you think are stupid is a bad idea: clearly you’re not being fair. If I were trying to engage with the Westboro Baptist Church it’d be one thing, but the spectrum of reasonably respectable political discourse is pretty fucking broad. If the head of the NRA is espousing this line – and they are clearly at least trying to run with it – it’ll at least get a decent amount of play in nutter circles and on the Internet. Most Americans support either the same or less restrictive gun control. We need to engage the arguments, now, or else you’re just fiddling while Rome burns, and you need to be a lot less dismissive about which opinions are “obviously stupid” if only for purely practical reasons.

          • David Nieporent says:

            I think EV was trying to have a serious discussion with intelligent people, not the commenters at LGM. Nobody would be foolish enough to try to get the people here to think. That’s the difference between the VC and LGM communities: the latter is simply about talk radio-style ranting and snarky oneupmanship about how awful everyone who disagrees with left-wing orthodoxy, while the former is about promoting meaningful discussion.

  18. Left_Wing_Fox says:

    One of my old teachers, a former military vet, was fired after he lost his temper and threw a stapler at a student.

    In this same school, I’ve seen teachers storm out of class and slam the door behind them in frustration, and one slap a student for calling her a bitch.

    Yeah. Arming teachers is a WONDERFUL idea.

    • Aaron B. says:

      Well, let’s frame it as an objection, then. Arming teachers is dangerous because it lowers the bar to violence, and even otherwise reasonable teachers might do something awful, or at least the unreasonable ones would be more likely to? Or perhaps it would encourage more authoritarian behavior in the classroom, to the detriment of their students, because the teachers are constantly aware that they have access to the ultimate threat of force.

      • Linnaeus says:

        There’s also the issue of proper security of the gun. If the purpose of having armed teachers is to enable them to respond to situations such as this, then they will need to have the gun close at hand, probably on their person. I can think of any number of situations in which a teacher, either through neglect or by a deliberate act against a teacher, loses possession of the gun she or he is armed with. Now you’ve got a gun loose in the hands of someone who will likely use that gun to harm someone else.

        I just can’t see arming teachers as a serious policy proposal.

        • Aaron B. says:

          What if you gave the teachers a key to a lockbox in their classroom with a gun inside it?

          • Hogan says:

            Then the shooter knows whom to kill first.

          • Linnaeus says:

            There’s a couple of problems with that:

            First, it defeats the purpose somewhat of having armed teachers, because, as I mentioned above, the purported value of having armed teachers is so they can quickly respond to (and possibly eliminate) a shooter in the school. Now they have to take another step first to get to the gun, which they may not be able to do in an active shooter situation because they are either getting shot at or performing emergency duties to keep their students safe.

            Second, there’s the danger of theft. A school district that arms its teachers will have to make it known that it has done so, and I don’t see how it will be able to keep secret that guns are stored in classrooms. This would make them targets for theft either by outsiders breaking into the school or internally by a student (say, from junior high age and up) or someone else who is not authorized to have access.

            I just don’t see any advantage here. On top of that, we’ve got school districts that are barely paying their employees and for books,etc. Now they’re going to pay for guns and training? No way.

            • Aaron B. says:

              Okay, I think you’ve got a really solid point here. Teachers carrying sidearms seems way too vulnerable, but many security measures (the safe, for example) are overly cumbersome, particularly if they’re trying to get out the gun when they should be preparing the kids with lockdown measures. I can’t think of any security measures that are highly secure but don’t take long to get around in the case of an emergency, which seems to defeat the whole point of the policy, whatever its other problems.

              And, I’m really not trying to be pedantic here. I just think if we don’t take ideas seriously for a second it’s hard to do a good job refuting them.

      • Hob says:

        No, let’s not “frame it as an objection.” It’s not as if there’s a serious policy proposal that has to be argued against with the utmost care and rhetorical skill, lest everyone be persuaded of its apparent benefits. Volokh said an idiotic and horrifically inappropriate thing that is insane on its face for many reasons– not subtle reasons, but common-sense ones like the one Left_Wing_Fox just gave, which I don’t think anyone has any difficulty understanding without your genteel reframing.

        • Aaron B. says:

          Okay, except judging by the comments on Volokh Conspiracy, this will actually persuade some people. So you can either be hyperbolic and refuse to engage, or make all those “obvious” and “common-sense” objections explicit so we can have a real discussion about it.

          Your attitude strikes me as the kind that encourages political oppositions to do things like boycott referenda rather than oppose them – like you’re so worried about sullying yourself by condescending to argue reasonably with people who disagree with you that you never get around to, you know, actually opposing them. Maybe instead of indignity we can proceed from the premise that our opponents are not all idiots and fools.

          • Left_Wing_Fox says:

            The data says that more guns means more deaths by guns. Common sense says that risks of theft, accident, and emotional escalation of violence increase with ease of access. That’s a lot of downsides when you are adding them solely for the purpose of deterring spree killers.

            • Aaron B. says:

              I don’t think any of those arguments are as commonsensical as you think. They need to be clearly explicated and justified with hard evidence, over and over, if they’re going to help advance the discussion.

              • Left_Wing_Fox says:

                They have been. They get ignored.

                A lot of people are not going to be convinced by evidence. They have emotional reasons for wanting to be armed: fear of crime (and often of visible minorities), fear of the government, machismo, culture, custom, insecurity, whatever.

                They aren;’t going to be swayed by rational argument anymore than a creationist is going to be swayed by evidence for evolution if they fear losing their faith, or a liberterian convinced of global warming, if they fear government intervention to solve the problem.

                Some people may be swayed by data, but ultimately it calls for dismantling, subverting or overwhelming those emotional reasons with more compelling narratives.

                • Aaron B. says:

                  I’m not sure those strategies are mutually exclusive, especially once you recognize that the most compelling counter-narratives don’t necessarily paint your opponents as mendacious fools. I’m all for narrative-building, but there needs to be a point at which we take our opponents seriously or the narrative goes nowhere. This is pretty obvious, but the less marginal your opponent is, the harder it is to marginalize them, and the more strategically advantageous more welcoming narratives become. And right now, we are losing the gun control debate.

          • Hob says:

            I must say you’ve got some balls to tell people that they are being condescending, after you’ve just said that they would’ve never bothered to think their opinions through unless Volokh forced them to do so, and that you don’t think they take politics seriously enough to even vote against a referendum. Kindly keep your inept mind-reading to yourself.

            The way to “make the obvious, common-sense objections explicit” is to say what they are. That’s what people have been doing here, though you seem not to understand that because they’re not using enough polite circumlocutions for your taste.

            I would be awfully surprised if many people who are not idiots or fools have real confusion (as opposed to a rhetorical position of confusion) about a point like “Giving guns to stressed-out teachers in chaotic classrooms full of tiny children is a stupid, dangerous idea.” The rationale behind the last three words is provided by the whole rest of the sentence. When I talk that way to people it doesn’t mean I’m assuming they are idiots, it means I’m assuming they’re not. If I told you that you probably shouldn’t eat broken glass because it has sharp corners on it that might cut your mouth, esophagus, and stomach, and you could start losing blood, which would be bad for your health, you might start to think that either I’m making fun of you or I don’t think you are very smart.

            • UserGoogol says:

              I think you’re massively underestimating the number of idiots out there. Quite a lot of people hold profoundly idiotic beliefs, in no small part because “common sense” varies wildly from person to person and is fraught with error and inconsistency. And Volokh is at least book smart, so he shows that idiocy is not a matter of a mere lack of intelligence.

              The world is full of idiots and you’re not going to get rid of them just by ignoring them. You have to fight the bad ideas at their root and slowly nudge the conversation in the right direction by persuading the borderline idiots.

              • Aaron B. says:

                Exactly. And I don’t think you do that by calling them idiots, but by slowly, calmly repeating your points and being willing to engage, even when the discussion infuriates you.

              • Hob says:

                Good Lord– I am not saying, as Aaron thinks, that you don’t need to tell anyone why an idea is bad because they should just know from common sense. Look at the comment that started this thread. It made a very clear point, and it did so using reference to real-life experience and with a note of humor– both of which are effective tools in debate. Aaron’s immediate response was to rewrite it at greater length, in more academic language, removing all references to real-life experience; he’s claiming that that’s the only way to engage in a serious discussion, and I think that’s absurd. I wasn’t offering a manifesto against rational thought, I was responding to specific annoying statements made by someone who seems to be more interested in argument as a game (note that Aaron hasn’t offered any opinions about the subject at hand, other than 1. Volokh is doing a valuable thing and 2. maybe we could put the guns in boxes).

                As for the number of idiots in the world, of course there are many; I never said otherwise. I just said that anyone who’s not an idiot can understand a statement like Left_Wing_Fox made– and anyone who can’t is unlikely to be swayed by a more debate-team-like approach.

            • Aaron B. says:

              If there was a serious danger I might eat broken glass then that’s exactly the thing to do. Look around, man – this isn’t a country with an overwhelming consensus in favor of gun control and a few nutters who keep blocking it. We are living in a society where a significant minority finds even proposals as radical as Volokh’s potentially desirable, and a majority thinks further gun control would be a bad idea (look at the polls). If you keep pretending “common sense” and calling your opponents idiots is going to so that work for you, all you’re really doing is making the problem worse.

          • Hob says:

            You know what, maybe you’re totally right. What the Volokh commenters (clearly a good representative sample of the U.S. population) really need is someone like you to lay it all out for them in the proper style. Why don’t you go on over there and let us know how effective you are at changing their opinions? Your example will show all the misguided, politically disengaged elitists like us how to talk to the people of America.

            • Aaron B. says:

              My critique of you isn’t that you’re elitist or politically disengaged, it’s that you’re an asshole.

              • Hob says:

                Be that as it may, I don’t think you have any idea how you sound when you pop up here telling everyone that they’d accomplish more if they’d only rewrite their arguments in your style, while totally ignoring the substance of the very clear statements they’ve made, and explaining that you know these things because you were on a debate team for eight years. Speaking in a calm, low tone of voice doesn’t make you not an asshole.

                Also, I’ve seen absolutely no evidence that you are interested in arguing with people with differing opinions; all you’ve done here so far is to offer rhetorical lessons to people whose opinions are more or less the same as yours. My suggestion that you practice your skills over at Volokh– i.e. to demonstrate exactly what you think we should be doing– was not entirely unserious. In any case, I’ve derailed the thread enough and won’t be continuing this.

              • Speak Truth says:

                My critique of you isn’t that you’re elitist or politically disengaged, it’s that you’re an asshole.

                That’s really very funny

    • David Nieporent says:

      Yes, because slamming doors is pretty much equivalent to shooting people. There are somewhere between 200,000,000 and 300,000,000 privately owned guns in the U.S. (different estimates from different sources). If getting frustrated or angry were just one step away from the proverbial ‘going postal’, there’d be millions of people shot to death every year.

      When you see someone with a car, do you think “Oh, no! That person might just snap and decide to run me over if he gets angry!” So why do you think hat having a gun means the person is likely to start shooting without reason?

      • Manta says:

        “When you see someone with a car, do you think “Oh, no! That person might just snap and decide to run me over if he gets angry!””

        Actually, you should think that: but owning a car has clear advantages, that owning a gun does not, and those advantages are deemed (not by me, btw) to outweight the dangers of having crazy, drunk, and/or drugged people driving around.

  19. DrDick says:

    In the real world, however, one of the teachers at that school was armed and owned several weapons. Her son used them to kill her and 20 children. Availability of guns is one factor strongly linked to higher homicide rates.

  20. Sly says:

    So you can’t trust us to evaluate our peers or have collective bargaining power, but you can trust us to bring lethal weapons into our classrooms.

    This is the dumbest shit.

  21. swearyanthony says:

    I feel he missed out by calling it a “thought experiment” rather than a “modest proposal”. People might miss his Swiftian brilliance.


  22. Withheld says:

    Reposting as a main thread as opposed to a reply. (Apologies if that’s bad.)

    Consider if teachers all had guns. Ignore the possibility that a teacher has a lot of BS as part of the job and could have a really bad day. What are the odds of an accident?

    What are the odds of an accident for a trained gun owner? Whatever they are, note that there are almost 4 million full-time teachers and loads of administrators and part-time staff. Let’s say that 10% of those have guns. So take those odds for one individual and multiply them by the hundreds of thousands of people who now pack heat in their classrooms. How many accidents have to happen before people see it as a bad idea?

    That Volokh took such a simplistic view of gun issues was grotesquely unreasonable and showed (to me, anyway) that he gave little serious thought to his so-called thought experiment.

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