STEPHEN PADDOCK, MASS MURDERER
UNDERSTANDING, TRULY UNDERSTANDING THE MOTIVATIONS OF MASS MURDERERS IS ULTIMATELY IMPOSSIBLE AND PROBABLY A WASTE OF TIME.
“Then the Hatter opened his eyes very wide . . . but all he said was, ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’
‘Come, we shall have some fun now!’ Thought Alice. ‘I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles. — ‘I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.
‘Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the March Hare.
‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘that’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.
‘Nor I,’ said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, ‘than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers.’” From the fantasy novel, “Alice in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll
“All men are uncreated equal.” From the notebook of the psychotic mass killer, James Holmes, sentenced by the Court to life + 3,318 years for the murder of 70 individuals and the attempted murder of dozens of others, in a movie theater, in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012. After sentencing, the Judge, who heard the case, and, having had enough of Holmes, angrily said, “Get the defendant out of my courtroom.”
What motivates a person to commit murder and mayhem, to commit acts of unimaginable savagery and on a vast scale? News commentators, police investigators, and FBI agents speculate and ponder Stephen Paddock’s motivation, his rationale, his raison d’etre for committing a horrific, heinous act that defies belief, and they are left dumbfounded, even as they ponder the unthinkable, the unimaginable. Ultimately, though, for the rest of us, does the question of Paddock’s motivation really matter? Had Paddock survived, would his statements to interrogators provide the clues, the missing pieces to the puzzle? In other words, do rational, logical explanations even exist for inherently irrational acts? At the moment, investigators dismiss a political, social, or financial motive, which might otherwise provide a seeming basis or quasi-rational explanation for Paddock’s actions. But, the answer may simply boil down to this: If Paddock enjoyed shooting at metal ducks with an air gun at a penny arcade or when standing at a booth at a traveling carnival in his youth, perhaps, he thought, how much more fun it would be to shoot at thousands of “little ducks” way down below, as he stood at his perch at an expensive “carny” stand—a luxury suite (booth)—at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. Vegas, after all, is the largest, and arguably, most obscene carnival in the Nation. And, Paddock’s prize for “winning” by shooting the most “ducks?” Notoriety on a national and even international scale! Does that answer help? And, if true, can a sane, rational American wrap his or her head around that? Would one desire to do so? Would one wish even to try? Not likely.
To understand Paddock’s mental processes—to truly understand the inner workings of the mind of a madman—it is necessary for a rational sane person to be able and willing to share, intimately, Paddock’s perceptions, his experiences. But, would one wish to take that leap, were it possible? In that regard, consider a scene in the 1983 Sci Fi film, “Brainstorm.” In the movie, scientists, working for a high-end technology company, create a device that allows a person to tap, literally and directly into the thoughts and feelings and experiences of another person. Nefarious individuals see military applications for the device: brainwashing and torture; and they dictate the future of the company, moving it in that direction. They hook the device up to the mind of a psychotic and record the psychotic’s brain activity on tape. A scientist absent-mindedly leaves the device at his home where his child gets a hold of it. Out of innocent curiosity, the child places the device on his head. Once he does so, the child immediately links his mind to that of the psychotic, through the tape inadvertently running at the time, on the device. The child, transfixed in horror at the bizarre, discordant images coursing through his brain as linked to the brain of a psychotic–as the child’s mind “takes in” the full weight and gravity of psychosis–doesn’t have the wherewithal to remove the device. The result is not pleasant. The child suffers an immediate, catastrophic, and possibly irreversible psychotic break.
Now, back to Paddock. Apart from a possible motive, more troubling to criminologists is the conclusion that they seem to be required to draw. Stephen Paddock does not, according to investigators, as relayed to the public through news accounts, fit the conventional profile for a mass killer. That is perplexing, bothersome, troublesome to investigators.
Today, computer programs and algorithms exist for explaining and predicting human conduct and behavior—explaining and predicting the hopes, wishes, desires, fears, and urges of each of us and to do so with amazing, frightening accuracy, and the creators of these programs and algorithms are getting better at it all the time, but, for all their successes, they may never be able to obtain a complete picture of what makes a person “tick.” But, that doesn’t stop them from trying. Stephen Paddock, a psychopath and psychotic, is a conundrum. And, those who seek to control all of us, don’t like that. They don’t like the conclusion they seem they must draw here: that their predictive programs, for assessing character flaws and predicting violent behavior in those individuals among us, who may present a danger to others, don’t always work. Clearly, those programs didn’t work in predicting Stephen Paddock’s descent to savagery. Perhaps it is enough to say that Stephen Paddock inherited his psychopathological makeup from his father, Benjamin Paddock. Perhaps it was just a matter of time before Paddock would explode—a matter of time before his super-consciousness (if he had any conscience at all), would be unable to contain his venomous ego personality, and that ego would fracture, allowing his lizard urges to emerge and predominate and control his actions. Ultimately, though, who can say?
The point of this narrative is twofold: one, that, at some level, with some people who exhibit abnormal, aberrant behavior—fortunately very few—any mechanism or tool for explaining and predicting dangerous, abnormal, aberrant behavior is difficult and most likely impossible. Breakthroughs in medical science, psychological modeling, and criminal profiling is, at best, still, obviously rudimentary.
News accounts report that Stephen Paddock’s father, Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber, con man, and psychopath, who, for several years, appeared on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list. Benjamin Paddock died in 1998. Did his son, Stephen, inherit his father’s psychopathological makeup. Perhaps. According to the old saw, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” News accounts report that Stephen Paddock has three brothers, according to the NY Times, in an article, published on October 13, 2017, titled, “Father’s History Could Offer Insight Into Mind of Las Vegas Gunman,” about Stephen Paddock’s father, Benjamin Paddock. One brother, Eric, we hear about quite frequently. Another brother, Bruce, we don’t hear much about. What we do hear about Bruce is not pleasant. He appears to be a “bad apple” like Stephen. News accounts of two other brothers is virtually or altogether nonexistent. As for Eric Paddock, Eric claims he is as mystified as everyone else is of his older brother’s, Stephen Paddock’s, atrocities. But, would the other brother, Bruce, one day contemplate and carry out a mass shooting like Stephen Paddock? Would Eric? And, what of the two remaining brothers that we do not hear about at all–the two remaining brothers for which there remains a palpable silence?
Writing an opinion piece for The New York Times, on October 11, 2017, titled, “Psychiatrists Can’t Stop Mass Killers,” Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry, says, “it’s true that many mass murderers do have a mental disorder, typically a severe personality disorder or a psychotic illness. But, this fact has almost no implication for how to stop them.” Still, Richard Friedman admits that, “even if you were to eliminate all psychiatric illness from the population, the rate of violence would drop by only about 4 percent.” In a parenthetical, Friedman says, “The contribution from mass killers is far smaller: In 2015, mass killings accounted for only 0.35 percent of gun-related homicides.” The tacit question posed in the article is this: How are American citizens to protect themselves from others who would harm them? That tacit question spawns another: Do we proscribe gun possession of those individuals, alone, who exhibit psychopathic or psychotic tendencies but who have not been adjudged mentally incompetent or who have not been committed to a mental asylum? Or, if we cannot know with any degree of certainty those individuals who exhibit a danger to others, which, according to Friedman’s “disturbing reality,” includes “healthy people in the grip of everyday emotion using guns,” do we proscribe gun ownership of everyone? Friedman answers these two questions in the concluding paragraph of his article.
In keeping with the Times’ abhorrence toward guns and gun ownership by the average American citizen, Richard Friedman concludes his article with this advice, that may be interpreted as an admonishment: “so let’s stop pretending we can detect mass killers in advance. But we can deprive them—and everyone else—of the deadly weapons they require to turn their impulses into carnage.” It is the phrase, “everyone else” that ought to give those Americans who hold dear the right of the people to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment, pause.
There are, then, two roads, two paths we might follow to constrain those who commit violent crimes with firearms since it is virtually impossible to decipher what motivates such individuals. Although these roads or paths start off at the same juncture, they eventually diverge, and diverge sharply. Where the paths begin, there is general agreement. Maniacs and criminals should not be permitted to own and possess or have access to firearms. That is a given. In fact, federal law already precludes convicted felons and those persons adjudicated mentally incompetent or who have been committed to a mental asylum from possessing firearms—any firearm. Under 18 USCS § 922 (d)(1), “It shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” And, 18 USCS § 922 (g)(4) sets forth that, “It shall be unlawful for any person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”
But, then, do we deny every American citizen his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms because, possibly, theoretically, at some indefinite time in the future, a person may commit a horrific act with a firearm? That is the conundrum facing those politicians who consider highly unlikely but theoretically possible contingencies to dictate what would inevitably amount to the evisceration of fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution.
That doesn’t bother Richard Friedman. He ascribes to one path: a kind of Minority Report scenario. Since, as he says, no one can know for certain who, among the citizenry, will one day go off the deep end, everyone should be deprived of firearms ownership and possession, under the cold calculated and bizarre assumption that anyone may, probabilistically, devolve into a mass murderer, even if probabilistically, the odds of any rational person devolving into a psychotic mass murderer are virtually zero. Keep in mind, though a singularly important fact that any clinical psychologist or psychiatrist should know and it is one that Richard Friedman alludes to in his article, through the statistics he cites. It is that the vast majority of individuals, including even those who suffer from severe, acute psychoses, very few are likely to transform into mass murderers. But, then, while logic dictates restraint, hysterical overreaction is all too often the norm when it comes to gun laws. See, exempli gratia, Symptom-Based Gun Control, 46 Conn. L. Rev. 1633 (May 2014) by Frederick E. Vars, Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law, citing, Jeffrey Swanson & Marvin Swartz, The Navy Yard Shooting and Mental Illness, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY NEWS (Sept. 20, 2013) ‘(explaining that post-Heller, the United States faces the difficult task of trying to keep guns out of the hands of certain ‘dangerous people’; that ‘we often don’t know who the dangerous people are (until it’s too late), and the people that we might assume to be dangerous (say because they have a mental illness) mostly are not’; and that psychiatrists’ predictions of gun violence ‘aren’t much better than a coin toss’ so ‘reducing gun violence in the tiny proportion of mentally ill individuals at risk is a vexing challenge’).” See also, Balancing Public Safety with the Rights of the Mentally Ill: The Benefit of a Behavioral Approach in Reducing Gun Violence in Tennessee, 45 U. Mem. L. Rev. 671 (Spring 2015), by M. Roxana Nahhas Rudolph, J.D. Candidate, citing, generally, Jeffrey W. Swanson et al., Preventing Gun Violence Involving People with Serious Mental Illness, in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis 33, 35 (Daniel W. Webster & Jon S. Vernick eds., 2013) [hereinafter Swanson et al., Preventing Gun Violence] (‘But it is also true that crisis-driven law is not always carefully deliberated and that the results can make things worse and be difficult to undo.’); and Andrew J. McClurg, The Rhetoric of Gun Control, 42 Am. U. L. Rev. 53, 66 (1992) (“Emotions may move us to act, but reason should control the course of that action.” (citing Madsen Pirie, The book of the Fallacy 58 (1985)). Roxana Nahhas Rudolph writes: “Mental illness has become a current focal point of gun control legislation. The recent tragedies involving gun violence and mass shootings across the country have left many Americans demanding stricter and better enforced methods of denying firearm access to mentally ill individuals. Unfortunately, the demand for increased gun control legislation has resulted in misguided and discriminatory legal remedies that are grounded in emotion rather than statistic. Due to highly publicized mass shootings like those in Newtown and Aurora, the public perception is skewed toward assuming that mentally ill persons are inclined toward violent behavior. Although some degree of public safety concern is warranted, the fear associated with mental illness is generally disproportionate to the actual risk of harm posed to society. Recent empirical data indicates that Americans with mental illness commit less than 5% of societal violence. Therefore, reactionary gun laws that focus exclusively on mental health are unlikely to result in any significant nationwide reduction in gun violence.” This being the case, we are, nonetheless faced with hysterical overreaction that seems, unfortunately, to be perfectly reasonable to antigun proponents: namely those antigun groups, and antigun legislators, and antigun mainstream media organizations and commentators, and other liberal, smug complacent voices. Their antipathy toward guns is visceral. They adamantly oppose civilian gun ownership and possession. And they hold those who seek to own and possess firearms in utter contempt, surmising, absurdly and viciously that anyone, among the civilian population, who desires to own a firearm must, ipso facto, have something wrong with him (or her).
Dare it also be said that the kind of action called for, stemming from Friedman’s conclusion, is altogether inconsistent with the right of the people to keep and bear arms as codified in the Second Amendment. Since the chances that a rational person may become a psychotic killer is so infinitely small as to be ludicrous in the extreme, it follows, logically, that an appeal to statistics is hardly a reasonable basis upon which to enact draconian laws, inhibiting rights and liberties under the Bill of Rights of our free Republic. When faced with the fact that statistics do not support the imposition of draconian gun laws on the American public, Richard Friedman and those sympathetic to his reasoning proceed from the standpoint that gun ownership and possession must be curtailed for the sake of “public safety,” however remote the danger of gun violence, either by normal, rational individuals or by those suffering from serious mental psychoses. We see, then, that the expression, “public safety,” operates as little more than a makeweight, little more than an excuse by federal and State legislatures and federal and State bureaucrats who seek to obliterate legitimate exercise of the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
What this means is that State and federal legislatures and State and federal government bureaucrats would allow lunatics and maniacs—the lowest common denominator in society and however few in number who do represent a danger to others—to dictate the extent to which the rest of us—millions of sane, rational, honest, law-abiding, but otherwise ordinary American citizens. The lowest common denominator in society serves, then, as the excuse, the impetus to denigrate and restrain and constrain the right of tens of millions of the rest of us: the sane, rational, honest, law-abiding but ordinary Americans who simply wish to exercise their fundamental, natural right of the people to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Restrictive firearms laws that oppress the fundamental right of the people to keep and bear arms do not, of course, make legal or logical sense. Such laws cannot, then, be justified either in law or in logic, but they are enacted anyway: ever more of them, and all of them sold to the public as a panacea, as a seemingly common-sense but clearly “over-the-top response to a limited threat that is deliberately and shamelessly blown out of all sensible proportion by the mainstream media in order to further an unlawful agenda–de facto repeal of the Second Amendment. Let us also be ever mindful of one indelible hard fact, lest we, in an inattentive moment, forget, as encouraged to do so, when inundated with waves of emotional rhetoric. It is that these restrictive gun laws that ostensibly serve the interest of public safety subvert, at once, the right of millions of ordinary, law-abiding freedom-loving, rational American citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones with a firearm. Legislators who enact draconian gun laws do so, either oblivious to or, more likely, keenly aware of, but irreverently dismissive of the fact that sane, rational, honest, law-abiding, but average, ordinary American citizens do defend themselves with firearms, and do so tens of thousands of times per year, according to even the most conservative estimates, and, by other, likely more accurate estimates, well over one million times per year. *
What is beneficial to the individual—armed self-defense—is considered disadvantageous to society; so sayeth those who claim to seek to maximize public safety and who believe that public safety and armed self-defense are incompatible. If one must go, it is, then, “armed self-defense. That is what the antigun proponents and what their highly secretive, inordinately powerful, and exorbitantly wealthy benefactors want. That is what they all work tirelessly toward. That is what the antigun proponents and their benefactors intend to achieve through lies, evasions, and “half-truths;” through manipulation of statistics; through audacious use of tragic events; through media propaganda; through all manner of devices, orchestrations, contrivances, and dissimulations–all designed to induce fear, confusion and volatility in the masses–all to further their anti-Second Amendment aims, their anti-Bill of Rights agenda, their internationalist goal for a one-world government.
Prior to the seminal Second Amendment Heller case (District of Columbia vs. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), made applicable to the States in McDonald vs. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010)), the notion that the individual’s right of self-defense must take a back seat to public safety—the well-being of the collective, “the hive” over the needs of the individual—flourished, was, indeed, taken as axiomatic; but this is no longer true. But that doesn’t stop the antigun crowd from continuing to make its case in the political arena, thereby patently ignoring the weight of U.S. Supreme Court law, and of logic, and of ethics as understood by the founders of our free Republic, the framers of our Constitution.
In truth, if armed self-defense is incompatible with anything, it is incompatible with foreign law that fails to recognize the right of American citizens to utilize firearms for self-defense. An individual residing in Australia–namely, a subject of the Queen of England–says this:
“ ‘[It is] actually not that hard to own a gun. But, you do have to have a genuine reason. You have to be a member of a target shooting club, or a hunter, and you have to prove it. For hunting, you can get written permission from a landowner who says you are hunting on his land. Or, you can join a hunting club. Pistols [handguns], on the other hand, are heavily restricted. All applicants undergo a background check by the police and there is a mandatory [thirty] day cooling off period for all license applications, both long arms and pistols. Firearms safety training courses are mandatory as well.’” As cited in the law review article, “Check ‘Mate’: Australia’s Gun Law Reform Presents The United States With The Challenge To Safeguard Their Citizens From Mass Shootings, by Denise Cartolano, 41 Nova L. Rev. 139 (Winter 2017).**
You will note that the individual, who made the statement and who lives in Australia, made no reference to “armed self-defense.” Obviously, armed self-defense isn’t considered a genuine reason for owning and possessing a firearm in Australia. And, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the past U.S. President, Barack Obama, and the woman who had claimed the “throne” of the U.S. Presidency and who had her ambitions and hopes dashed, a second time, Hillary Clinton, would–both of them–emulate the Australian example, seeking to thrust it on the American people.
Isn’t armed self-defense, though, a legitimate basis for owning and possessing firearms? You would think that no one in Australia would need a firearm for self-defense. If that assertion is false, we don’t hear of such reports; nor do we hear of instances where Americans have utilized a firearm for self-defense. We never see DGU (Defensive Gun Use) statistics reported or even alluded to in the mainstream media. We don’t encounter DGU statistics in mainstream news accounts because those who seek to demolish Americans’ sacred right of armed self-defense would undermine their own argument in favor of dismantling the Second Amendment. Antigun proponents and the secretive benefactors who bankroll their efforts relish the latest national gun tragedy because that serves to promote their agenda—an agenda that is antithetical to the preservation of the core of our Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms—one salient fundamental right that defines us as Americans and distinguishes us, in a positive vein, from all other populations on this planet.
If we attempt a one-to-one match of each instance where an innocent American lost his or her life to an armed gunman to an instance where an innocent American preserved his or her life by wielding a firearm, the difference between loss of life to an armed assailant to preservation of life by an armed law-abiding American would be on the order of one life lost to hundreds of thousands saved. Of course, every innocent life is precious. But, to deny the right of any one innocent American to possess a firearm on the ground that more guns in the hands of sane, rational, law-abiding but “ordinary” Americans equates with more gun violence is a proposition at once not only false, but hypocritical. It cannot be the value of human life then that the antigun crowd is most concerned about, their assertions to the contrary. It is the desire to destroy the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, partly for its own sake, and partly predicated on odd aesthetic grounds and obtuse ethical ones, and on the desire to make ready the wrapping of this Nation into a new world globalist order–one necessitating a new constitution; one conformable to the political, social, legal, and financial structure of the European Union.
The saner approach and one consistent with the fundamental, natural right of the people to keep and bear arms is to expand, not restrict, the fundamental, natural right of the people to keep and bear arms, so that individuals are best able to defend themselves from those who seek to harm them. But that idea is anathema to those who seek de facto repeal of the Second Amendment, even, though, an armed citizenry would likely significantly reduce the number of innocent individuals injured or killed in a mass shooting incident. Consider: “American massacres, in which dozens of unarmed victims are mowed down before police can arrive, astound Israelis, who note what occurred at a Jerusalem [crowd spot] . . . : three terrorists who attempted to machinegun the throng managed to kill only one victim before being shot down by handgun-carrying Israelis. Presented to the press the next day, the surviving terrorist complained that his group had not realized that Israeli civilians were armed. The terrorists had planned to machinegun a succession of crowd spots, thinking that they would be able to escape before the police or army could arrive to deal with them.” “Under Fire: The New Consensus on The Second Amendment,” by 86 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 150, by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz.
The New York Times, the bastion of hate toward exercise of the natural, fundamental right codified in the Second Amendment has, in the last several days, published a plethora of Op Ed articles, damning not Paddock, the maniac responsible for horrific gun violence, but “the gun” itself. This is nothing new for the Times newspaper. The curious thing is that most of the writers for the Times use the tragedy to promote an agenda, essentially calling for the dismantling of the Second Amendment, even though no present gun law or contemplated gun law would have prevented the horror that transpired in Las Vegas.
Nicholas Kristoff, in his editorial, appearing in the Op Ed section of The New York Times, on October 5, 2017, titled, “We Can Act Before the Next Mass Shooting,” (titled, “Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Vegas Strip Attack” (in the digital version, posted on October 2, 2017)) calls for, what he refers to, as “modest steps we could take that would, collectively, make a difference.” What are those modest steps? We have seen them before. In fact, we have seen them many times. Apart from one of them that Kristoff mentions, they are nothing new.
In Part Two of this Article, we look at Kristoff’s “modest steps” that he argues “would, collectively, make a difference,” and we explain why these “modest steps” would not make a difference.
*We rarely, if ever, see mentioned in the mainstream news statistics and articles involving defensive use of firearms. We do not see statistics and articles involving defensive use of firearms because those who seek to demolish Americans’ sacred rights and liberties—those who control the mainstream media—will never acknowledge that defensive use of firearms exists. They will jump on the latest national tragedy to promote an agenda antithetical to the preservation of the core of our Bill of Rights—the one document that best defines us as Americans—but fail to acknowledge successful use of firearms in one’s self-defense.
But, legitimate evidence exists that average law-abiding Americans use firearms defensively hundreds of thousands, even millions of times a year and, given that fact, even a mass shooting incident pales in comparison and significance to the many, many lives that are saved every year due to the fact that such Americans choose to exercise their fundamental, natural right to keep and bear arms. Consider:
“For almost a decade scholars have been debating about how many defensive gun uses (DGUs) occur annually. Gary Kleck and colleagues, citing a series of polls culminating in the 1993 Kleck-Gertz survey, argue that at least 2.55 million people use a firearm for protection against criminals each year. Hemenway and others, relying on the National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVSs), contend that only about 55,000 to 80,000 victims use guns against offenders in a given year. The estimates are wide apart and their academic champions staunchly defend their respective figures as correct and accurate, while dismissing the opposing figures as invalid and implausible.
Neither side seems to be willing to give ground or see their opponents’ point of view. This is unfortunate since there is good reason to believe that both sides are off-the-mark. Below the main shortcomings of the two approaches and some of the keys issues of contention are discussed.
First, it appears that the estimates of the NCVSs are too low. There are two chief reasons for this. First, only DGUs that are reported as part of a victim’s response to a specified crime are potentially covered. While most major felonies are covered by the NCVSs, a number of crimes such as trespassing, vandalism, and malicious mischief are not. DGUs in response to these and other events beyond the scope of the NCVSs are missed.
Second, the NCVSs do not directly inquire about DGUs. After a covered crime has been reported, the victim is asked if he or she ‘did or tried to do [anything] about the incident while it was going on.’ Indirect questions that rely on a respondent volunteering a specific element as part of a broad and unfocused inquiry uniformly lead to undercounts of the particular of interest.
The only known significant source of overestimation of DGUs in this survey is ‘telescoping,’ the tendency of Rs to report incidents which actually happened earlier than the recall period, such as reporting a six year old incident as having happened in the past five years. It is likely that telescoping effects are more than counterbalanced by Rs who actually experienced DGUs failing to report them. Nevertheless, it is worth discussing how much effect telescoping could have on these estimates. In evaluating the ability of crime victims to recall crime events in victim surveys, the U.S. Census Bureau selected a sample of crimes that were reported to the police, and then interviewed the victims of these known crime events. Using a twelve month recall period (the same as we used in the present survey), they surveyed victims who had been involved in crimes which had actually occurred thirteen to fourteen months before the interview, i.e., one or two months before the recall period. Of these ineligible crimes, 21% were telescoped forward – wrongly reported as having occurred in the twelve month recall period.
Since the months just before the start of the recall period will show the highest rates of telescoping, the rate should be even smaller for crimes which occurred earlier. Nevertheless, even if it is assumed that the 21% rate applied to events that occurred as much as one year earlier, thirteen to twenty-four months before the interview, telescoping could inflate the DGU estimates for a one year recall period by only 21%. Adjusting the 2.5 million DGU estimate downward for telescoping effects of this magnitude would reduce it to about 2.1 million (2.5 million/1.21=2.1 million), an adjustment which would have no effect on any of our conclusions. Telescoping would inflate estimates based on the five year recall period even less, since the ratio of memory loss errors over telescoping errors increases as the recall period lengthens. Nevertheless, it should be stressed that this is just a numerical demonstration. There is no reason to believe that these modest telescoping effects outweigh the effects of Rs failing to report DGUs, and therefore, no reason to believe that these estimates are even slightly too high.” “Policy and Perspective: A Call for a Truce in the DGU War”, 87 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 1462 (Summer 1997), by Tom W. Smith, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago.
**The author of the article, Denise Cartolano, Attorney Advisor for the Executive office for Immigration Review as part of the Department of Justice’s Attorney General’s Honors Program, is obviously well-credentialed, but, she presumes, in our estimate wrongly, that Australia’s draconian gun laws are, for the most part, consistent with American law and that they can and should be implemented here in the United States. She clearly does not support the notion of armed self-defense in this Country, tacitly emulating Australia’s highly restrictive gun laws. She points out, as alluded to by the Australian subject, whom the author quotes in her law review article, that, while “Australia’s gun laws include a provision to show a genuine use for owning, possessing, or using a firearm [p]ersonal protection, or self-defense, does not qualify as a genuine reason to own a firearm in Australia. Only ‘reasons relating to sport shooting, recreational shooting, [or] hunting, collecting, and occupational requirements’ are valid reasons for gun ownership or use in Australia.
As discussed, the Supreme Court of the United States’ cases Heller I and McDonald held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the home for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense, and that the Second Amendment applies against the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Therefore, in light of the Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, it follows that the United States cannot implement a law that excludes self-defense as a genuine reason for owning, possessing, or using a firearm.”
Is this to suggest that the author of the article, Denise Cartolano, is supportive of the Heller decision and of the Second Amendment? No! The author concludes her article, asserting, “What is clear from the glaring statistics and media coverage of multiple mass shootings occurring at elevating rates in the United States is that the gun control issue needs to be tackled and new legislation implemented. Members of federal and state legislators need to start a conversation on gun control and work collaboratively to establish policies that effectuate change. The murder of innocent American citizens at the hands of those with firearms is an issue of national importance and should be a bipartisan one. America’s culture and climate of gun ownership needs to be analyzed and reevaluated in order to spare the United States from another mass shooting tragedy. Australia was able to implement sweeping legislative reform regarding gun control only twelve days after one mass shooting event. As discussed in this Article, the United States can effectively implement most of the Australian gun control legislation and should work towards making that a priority.” While the author, writes a compelling account of mass shootings in this Country and adequately dissects Australia’s draconian National Firearms Agreement, her failure to take into account, or, for that matter, even to mention the fact that the American public utilizes firearms defensively hundreds of thousands or, conceivably, millions of times in any given year, and her failure to take into account the import of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, even as she acknowledges the import and purport of the Heller and McDonald cases, weakens, considerably, and, in our estimate, fatally, the force of her message, although, certainly, antigun groups would find her argument compelling.
But, for those wondering what Australia’s National Firearms Agreement mandates, Denise Cartolano provides this succinct statement, citing, Kelly Buchanan, Australia, in FIREARMS-CONTROL LEGISLATION AND POLICY 16, 17 (2013).
“The National Firearms Agreement: (1) prohibits automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles; (2) stiffened licensing and ownership rules–for example, the private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited unless conducted and registered by a licensed firearms dealer; (3) instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took approximately 700,000 assault weapons out of public circulation; (4) requires licensees to demonstrate a genuine need for a particular type of gun–self-defense does not qualify; (5) requires a firearm safety course; (6) determined that licenses cannot be issued until after a waiting period of not less than twenty-eight days and for a period of no more than five years; (7) mandates that licensees need to comply with storage requirements and submit to inspection by licensing authorities, subject to immediate withdrawal of license and confiscation of firearms in certain circumstances; and (8) requires separate permits for the acquisition of every firearm.”
The author, Denise Catalano believes that “most” of the Australian Firearms Agreement can be implemented, which is to say, she believes that most of the Agreement is compatible with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and to the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Heller and McDonald. We, however, believe that Catalano’s assertion is a stretch, at best, even if some members of the American public would like to see an Australian style firearms law enacted. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton certainly would. U.S. Senators Schumer and Feinstein would, as well. We, though, definitely would not. Enactment of any of these measures is inconsistent with our Bill of Rights. Keep in mind that Australia doesn’t have a Bill of Rights. Whatever rights and liberties Australians enjoy only exist, if at all, by grace of the Queen of England and, so, can just as easily be revoked as granted to the Australian subject by the Queen, through the Governor-General, the Queen’s Representative.
Copyright © 2017 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.