Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Binghamton Murders

With economic hard times upon us, we will be seeing more violence like the horrors in Binghamton New York, and as a result more calls for gun bans. In light of that, I can only link to my post on the Virginia Tech murders from two years ago. I would just have to say more or less the same things over again.*

One small point: As you can see from this map (click to enlarge) New York does not have a shall-issue concealed carry law. What they have is what is known as a may-issue law. What that often means is that, technically, you can get a permit to carry a weapon, but you have to convince the police that you have a "good reason" to have a gun. (A lot of police seem to think that if there is a reason you might actually use a gun then that is a good reason to not let you carry one.)

If New York had, like most of the US, had a shall-issue law, that would have increased the likelihood that there would have been a law-abiding citizen near the atrocity who could have brought the killer down before he shot his last victim and blew his own brains out. As it was, his victims had to wait for the police to respond to a 911 call. The police did a good job of getting there fast (2 minutes, according to the police department) but even that was not fast enough to prevent any murders.**

... unfortunately, I can't make the same point about the multiple murder in Pittsburgh, a story that broke after I started to write this post, in which three police were on a domestic battery call were ambushed by the batterer. There just are no magic bullets for these things (no play on words intended).
* One thing I might change: in the original article, I suggested that the rules should allow any law-abiding person at a university or college to be armed. For reasons of safety, I would now probably support some sort of age-requirement for concealed carry, which could limit it to people 21 and older. Also, it might be good for schools to limit it to teachers and other school staff.

** Later: Looks like I spoke too fast in giving the police even this faint praise. According to this news story: "Police heard no gunfire after they arrived but waited for about an hour before entering the building to make sure it was safe for officers. They then spent two hours searching the building."


Ajlouny said...

If you are going to kill yourself and take down as many people as possible with you, would you try and do it at a Gun Show or an NRA convention? No, you go to a place where you know the people won’t be able to fight back.

Ann said...

What does no-issue mean? You may not own a firearm? Isn't that a violation of the Bill of Rights?

Incidentally, there was a case some years ago in Texas where a guy came into a buffet restaurant on a shooting craze, and two customers who were 'packing' took him down before anyone else was hurt.

Lester Hunt said...


All these statutes are about permits to carry a concealed weapon. So no-issue means no one can carry a concealed gun -- except, of course, for gov't agents.

That story about the restaurant is interesting. I wish someone would collect a bunch of well-documented stories and do an article about them. These incidents are typically not reported and only people who are intensely involved with the issue know of them.

Ann said...

Thanks for clarification, Lester.

The Texas story was told to me by my husband - it probably happened ten or more years ago. An angry man drove his pickup truck through the glass front of a Lubee's (sp?) cafeteria somewhere in Texas, and then began shooting. Many people lay down on the floor quickly, and two guys next to each other whispered that they both had their firearms and worked out a plan on the count of three to jump up and fire at the guy. It worked. Another patron was reported saying he had been frustrated that he'd left his gun in the car. The guys who had their guns definitely had an option available that those without did not. Sorry I don't have a link to this story - it probably was published in Texas papers at the time. Maybe in the archives somewhere now.

Lester Hunt said...

Sadly, the notorious Luby's massacre did not end that way. Twenty three innocent people were killed and then murder killed himself when he felt he had slaughtered enough. It was the worse such mass murder in US history until the VPI shootings. You must be thinking of Suzanna Gratia, who later testified in favor of Missouri's shall-issue law that she regretted obeying the then-in-effect law and leaving her gun in her car. During the incident she saw her unarmed father killed as he tried to subdue the murderer. Her mother was also among those murdered, as I recall. Apparently, the Missouri law passed.

Lester Hunt said...

Correction: I see in the Wikipedia article on the Luby's incident that the killer took his own life after being wounded by the police, when he still had plenty of ammunition left, so it looks like the police managed to save some lives in this case.

Alec Rawls said...

You can read hundreds of stories about armed citizens saving lives and stopping crimes in the NRA's "Armed Citizen" compilations. As far as I know, the NRA only posts its latest column, but Old Yankee has a partial archive.

Lester Hunt said...


Thanks for the links. I just noticed that the NRA also has a page that allows you to search their archives of these news stories here.

Max Kuenkel said...

In my local newspaper a reader commented on an article having to do with firearms, and said:

"[...]but more telling is that the liberal media NEVER applauds any legal or proper use of firearms. Ever."

I think I read somewhere that journalists have guide books or guidelines on how to cover certain controversial news stories. It might be interesting to see what those guidelines are regarding news stories about firearms.

Lester Hunt said...

I had never noticed it before, but that reader is obviously right. You can only wonder what the mindset behind this is. These people are ready enough to praise self-sacrificial acts of heroism (to use the usual term for it), like Capt. Phillips volunteering to be a hostage in order to spare his crew, but self-assertive acts of heroism they do not praise. Maybe they think the latter sort of praise would encourage non-heroic acts of violence. Or maybe they just don't admire self-assertion. Since this mindset is miles away from mine, it is difficult if not impossible for me to penetrate it.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good link from a good site

Your former pupil Todd

Lester Hunt said...

What a great clip! Too bad we missed seeing the actual fiery confrontation. Also, too bad the bad guy got away with a bag of cash. Hopefully, they will find it in his possession, eventually. Thanks.

Max Kuenkel said...

Interesting news story about the armed pharmacist. I'm surprised they didn't put a spin on it to suggest that the pharmacist should have been a passive victim, wait for the police and hope he didn't get killed in the meantime.

Here is a video of a guy who shot several robbers in his watch shop, on several occasions: