Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Norway attacked

I was planning a different post for tonight but I am so upset about the attacks in and near Oslo, Norway that I can't stop thinking about it. I just recently read this article saying that over 80 people had been killed in today's attacks. Because both my husband and I have relatives in Norway, this is even more concerning. We have visited that most beautiful country and have met many relatives there. My maternal grandfather emigrated to America when he was 16. My husband's mother was born in America but many of her siblings were born in Norway before emigrating to America. We have close family ties to both Norway and Sweden but know our Norwegian relatives better. Some of them have come for visits to America and stayed with us. We actually named our son after one of my husband's relatives.

Norway is such a peaceful country. They suffered during World War II when the Nazis occupied the country. There are still strong feelings there about that war. When we visited Norway, my husband's relatives told us how their father had been taken to an internment camp in Germany for political reasons. We saw the small hide-away huts in the mountains when we stayed at a "hytte" or a cabin in the mountains near Bergen owned by a relative. There is where many hid from the Nazis during the occupation. It was an educational and emotional visit. My own relatives live in a town outside of Oslo where we also visited on May 17th, "Sytennde Mai", or Norwegian Constitution Day. It was such a wonderful sight to see the women and children in their national costumes or bunad. My mother was given the bunad of her Norwegian relative and wore it often to local events. It is a prized possession.

You can see here, that Norway has very strict gun regulations. One must show a need for a gun and prove that the guns will be properly stored. Ammunition is limited as are certain kinds of guns. Gun policy in Norway is not controversial and makes a lot of common sense. So for someone to obtain what is reportedly an assault weapon to shoot innocent youth camped on an island near Oslo is unusual, to say the least. There are very few shootings in Norway. The shooter must have had several rounds of high capacity ammunition magazines to shoot so many all in one place. Surely campers on an island would not have expected something this horrendous could be possible.

I am sure that as more information comes forth about the horrendous events in Norway, we will find out more about the shooter and where and how he obtained his gun. The fact that he was arrested must be a relief to the entire country. Meanwhile, we are awaiting word from our relatives that their families are safe.

53 comments:

  1. Now 91 dead. It's amazing what one man can do with an assault weapon. I heard from one relative in Norway. All is well with his family. He likened this home grown terrorist to Timothy McVeigh.

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  2. Dear readers,

    Several of you are on my case about not posting your comments. I guess I failed to mention that I won't post comments if you are just being a jerk.

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  3. "It's amazing what one man can do with an assault weapon."

    I's amazing what the pacifist mindset will convince people to allow to be done to them. "If I run and hide, maybe he'll kill someone else" isn't an effective response to this sort of situation.

    It wasn't his gun that made this possible, and it wasn't their lack of guns. It was decades of "don't get involved, your not competent, leave it to the professionals" brainwashing that is the core of the problem.

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  4. Jdege- I have no idea what you are talking about. It sounds like nonsense to me.

    I have now heard from another Norwegian relative. His family is safe But they are all upset as you can imagine. We are thankful they are OK but still feel the pain for the families of the victims.

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  5. Dear readers

    In the face of senseless gun deaths, calling me names and most especially a coward just doesn't lend itself to anything useful. If I thought there was a chance that some of actually wanted to engage in a thoughtful back and forth I would gladly engage. Such is not often the case. Some of you are just here to "pinch"me and be good trolls. Do remember that this is my blog and will not be taken over by the trolls. Others who read this simply don't want to read some of your unproductive comments.

    Have a nice day.

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  6. japete: "Gun policy in Norway...makes a lot of common sense."

    From your link: "self defense...is practically never accepted as a reason for gun ownership"

    So that would seem to indicate that you believe that not allowing gun ownership for self defense is "common sense"?

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  7. It seems to have worked well for Norway so far where as in our country where some seem to think they need guns everywhere they go, not so much.

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  8. from a New York Times article- " a portrait began to emerge of the main suspect in the case as a gun-loving Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threat of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration." The suspect fooled young kids into thinking he was there to help them, dressed in a police officer's uniform, and then he mowed them down point blank. He shot at kids who were in the water trying to swim away. Sick.

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  9. "Jdege- I have no idea what you are talking about."

    One guy with a rifle cannot kill 80 unarmed people, if the 80 unarmed people don't cooperate. This wasn't a Texas Tower-style sniper - he wasn't off someplace where he couldn't be reached. If it had been, there'd have been far fewer casualties, as people took cover.

    He had to hunt them down. For this to have happened, with a single shooter, he'd have had to searched over the island, tracking down the individuals in their hiding places, over a fairly extended period of time.

    During which, nobody fought back in an effective manner.

    "Run and hide" is the worst possible response to such an attack. You're best chance, and the best chance for everyone around you, is to attack immediately. Throw what you have, and charge.

    There was a time when that would have been the instinctive reaction of many within any group. There are many places in the world where this is still the instinctive reaction. But we've had 100+ years of progressivism trying to train "aggression" out of our culture.

    Truth is that every non-aggressive human culture is extinct or soon will be. And our response to this tragedy will be full of hand-wringing and sorrow for how they "never had a chance", and never a word of practical advice as to how to effectively deter such incidents, or to reduce their severity.

    Truth is they never had a chance because they were very carefully taught to be entirely defenseless. By generations of well-intentioned busy-bodies who are terrified of having to make a distinction between protective and predatory violence.

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  10. In this case, seems like Norway's "strong" gun control laws worked against them.

    Sad situation.
    B

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  11. Whatever jdege. Your comments never fail to amaze me for their extreme nature. You can read the account of what happened for yourself. It was at some points like an evil sniper. He enticed the kids to come to him as if to help them and then he shot them dead. He shot them in the water as they were trying to escape. They could not have defended themselves. Your version is just not true.

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  12. "It seems to have worked well for Norway so far"

    Perhaps -- but if there was honesty in this debate, it would be admitted that most of the places often held up as examples of having "worked well" happen to have laws that are more extreme than those that gun control advocates admit that they want to see in the US.

    And if Norway's laws are "common sense," it will be instructional to see if they keep them that way -- or if they become more extreme in reaction.

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  13. I haven't heard people complaining about their "extremist" gun laws in Norway or in most other countries. They understand what sensible restrictions are so people aren't shot to death every day in large numbers in most countries. It will be interesting to see if Norway examines their gun laws. I will be interested to see where and how the shooter got his gun and what kind of gun it was. In our country, we have mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting and do nothing. Other countries have common sense.

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  14. What jdege says has some truth in it. This person did not have fully automatic weapons (which are more imprecise than Hollywood would have you to believe). Reports talk of a handgun and a rifle. at best they were semiautomatic. in the worst case perhaps up to 30 rounds per magazine (which are illegal in Norway). most likely then, 10-round magazines. These weapons have to be reloaded at some point and if people use their instincts he could have been stopped, with or without firearms. to release, load, rechamber takes at least 3 seconds, more in a stressful situation or if the fresh magazines are not are handy. 3-10 sec. that's plenty. The shooter in Tucson was eventually stopped by a bystander with some guts, wasn't he? and he was stopped while realoding. and they were not all kids, age ranged from 13 to 30. some adult should have been in charge of security.

    it is a fact that we have grown over-civilized and unable to grab to our survival instincts when face by an emergency situation. we rely too much on "professionals". and we are left with duck and cover or run. I am prone to think that this is more true in a country so well know for being orderly and pacific, so much so that police carries on without sidearms.
    you can excuse those killed in the first few minutes, denial and shocks made them in, but the others?

    you have to ask yourself if there is anything that can be learned from this event in term of response, otherwise you are left with grief and puzzlement. not particularly useful.

    one lesson is that we have to teach our kids to be proactive and self-reliant during an emergency situation. help can be hours away. you regroup, assess, and counterattack. being a survivor and not being a victim is a state of mind that can be learned. and yes, a concealed carry permit, inexistent in Norway, could have helped. I always go camping with a .44 in my backpack. no cops in the woods and plenty of wildlife, but it's the two-legged version that I'm worried about.

    a shooter like this is not deterred by CCW bans, as this event demonstrate yet again. and, no, Norway gun laws don't make much sense (e.g. they never allow the possession of guns for self-defense, as if they are living in Wonderland; they have limits on the number of guns a person can own; storage laws make self-defense all but impossible). maybe they will reassess now. that would be another lesson that they could learn.

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  15. I just love how you guys contort yourselves into believing that this guy could have been stopped if only someone had had a gun. Actually, if you read the story, it sounds pretty impossible. You always forget that there was the element of surprise. Who would expect an armed crazed guy to show up on a remote island dressed as a police officer who faked people into thinking he was going to help them and then opens fire instead? So the people did what anyone would do- they panicked and ran for cover to save themselves. Then he ran around the island doing the same thing. He shot them point blank. These were kids and young adults for Pete's sake. .Come on you guys. Give it up. Sometimes people like this can't be stopped. Stopping people like this before they get their guns is the key. Yes, even that doesn't work all the time either. I admit to that. But Norway has made these type of weapons illegal to own for average citizens. Where did he get these guns? I will be interested in that. In the meanwhile, I suggest you guys quit trying to make up your own scenario about how someone could have saved the day if only. That is only a maybe and not a certainty at all.

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  16. Surprising...

    Newspapers: Oslo Must Not Restrict Freedoms

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903554904576464061922441504.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Surprising in that in the US, many newspapers (and perhaps this blog) would react in an opposite way: by clamoring to restrict freedoms.

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  17. Joan,
    First, I'm glad that all your friends and relatives over there seem to be okay. That is a good thing.
    Second, it is said that in pretty much any situation like this you run from a knife and attack a gun. The reasoning is that whereas neither a knives nor guns are magic devices it is easier to get a gun pointed away from you and for the moment harmless than it is a knife. It wouldn't have been easy and it wouldn't have been without casualties. As you said, he got the drop on them and even afterward was tricking them. I also realize that we're all making these comments from a comfortable place not currently under any attack and it's easy to play armchair commando.
    You suggest that we quit trying to make up a scenario about how someone may have been able to save the day and say that it is only a maybe. It is true that it is only a chance but that chance sure beats having to face such person with their bare hands, no?
    I also must point out that in this case, as in nearly every single other case of a mass shooting, it was people with other guns that stopped the madness. It is just tragically unfortunate that it took 90 minutes for those other guns to show up.

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  18. "Where did he get these guns? I will be interested in that."

    So far, we have only this:

    "Breivik is a member of the Oslo Pistol Club and has three weapons registered in his name, according to leading Norwegian newspaper VG, citing Norway's official weapons register. They are a Glock pistol, a rifle and a shotgun, VG reported."

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/07/23/norway.suspect/index.html?&hpt=hp_c2

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  19. Strict gun laws= " Gun violence is rare in Norway, where the average policeman patrolling in the streets doesn't carry a firearm. Reports that the assailant was motivated by political ideology were shocking to many Norwegians, who pride themselves on the openness of their society. Indeed, Norway is almost synonymous with the kind of free expression being exercised by the youth at the political retreat." From an article on the AP.

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  20. Yes, Atrius- it is unfortunate that it took so long. No one knew the guy was on the island until some campers across the lake reported gun shots. It took a while for police to get there since they had no idea where the guy was. And yes, it took a whole lot of people with guns to get the guy. That was the only thing to stop him. Police are trained for such emergencies. I'm sure they will review their problems getting to the scene.

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  21. I couldn't read the whole article posted by JayF but didn't see anything about changing their gun policy to make it less strict. I'm surprised you are thinking the U.S. restricts freedom given that we have among the loosest gun laws in the world. You guys should be happy about that. If you find a specific reference to the Norwegians wanting their gun laws to be less strict, please send it to me. Usually in the face of a horrendous mass shooting there are calls to make gun laws more strict.

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  22. Thanks, Jay. He must have had a whole lot of ammunition or high capacity magazines if those were the weapons he used. I also found this interesting- " NRK reports that Breivik does not have a military background and was exempt from Norway's mandatory military service. He has not had any special military training, it adds on its website" Given that all males have to serve in the military in Norway, I wonder why he was exempt? I suppose we will learn more about that later as well.

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  23. "But Norway has made these type of weapons illegal to own for average citizens. Where did he get these guns? "

    what weapons did he use? model? there is no information anywhere in the press.

    besides, you are misinformed. Semiautomatic weapons are legal in Norway. as ownership of up to 15,000 rounds per person is. Many hunting rifles are semiautomatic. Semiauto pistols are legal in Norway (as many participate in IPSC competitions). AR-15 style semiauto are legal in norway (http://www.triggerfreeze.com/docs/2006/IPSC_Rifle_norway.htm)
    AR-10 can be used for hunting large game.

    100% of the population have military training. and 32% of the population have a weapon in the house.

    excess of weapons were not the issue here. lack of self-defense skills and access to self-defense weapons is.

    what is striking here is the lack of security at a location where so many children where concentrated and where the prime minister was expected later during the day, and the fact that this person went on shooting for hours, not just a few minutes. hours. explain that.

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  24. Shooter dressed up as a police officer, and had the kids lined up for a "security check" and proceeded to open fire. (Fish in a barrel)

    Reports are that he had a "sub-machine gun"... The MP-5 is the standard issue military and police SMG. The fact that he had a highly restricted gun, and a police uniform leads me to believe that he was a police/military officer, or former officer.

    Tragic, but Norway's tight gun laws prove there is nothing you can do to stop deranged people from doing terrible things.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/07/22/norway-shooter-dressed-like-officer/

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  25. This is really sick. The gunman says that what he did was necessary. Really? Killing 92 people was necessary? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43857267/ns/world_news-europe/

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  26. I think I read that magazines can't be more than 10 rounds. I can't explain anything. Can you, Max? Why would the teenagers at the camp be armed? In Norway even the police don't carry guns. Their country has a very different view of things than ours. They ordinarily don't provide a lot of armed protection for their government officials but had to do so when President Obama was in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize because his life is in constant danger from nut cases and/or extremists who would love to take him out.

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  27. Yes, Rob, I heard the same thing and I agree that we can't always stop crazed people from doing deranged things.

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  28. "I just love how you guys contort yourselves into believing that this guy could have been stopped if only someone had had a gun."

    It wouldn't have made any difference, whether anyone in the crowd had a gun or not, if none of them had the mindset necessary for self-defense.

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  29. Apparently the offensive commenter from Lebanon, Oregon forgot about my admonition against foul, sexually explicit and offensive language on this blog. It is not acceptable and, in fact, is out of the main stream. Stay off of my blog, sir. You are not welcome and should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking you can write such offensive things in public. You will be remembered.

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  30. I imagine we'll learn more here about what actually happened, instead of speculation, as the police publish more information.

    I have two quick observations on this one though.

    First, it appears there's a very different mindset for self defense in Norway than here in the United States. In the Giffords shooting, we had individuals throwing objects and attacking the shooter - in Norway it appears as though they didn't attempt to fight back.

    Some of this might be human nature (to run, flee, try to escape) and I'm very sympathetic to that instinct - I think it's natural. I would hope here we would see something different happen.

    Second, there's a lot of speculation that having a firearm present wouldn't have helped a thing - and that's possible.

    But what I do know is that there were a large number of unarmed people - and having at least one armed person around might have made a difference. Truth is, we'll never know.

    I'm just glad that we have laws here in our country that allow us to have a fighting chance in situations like this. But without the right mindset, they're useless.

    B

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  31. Thank you for your reasonable comments, Bryan. We may not agree with all of it, I do appreciate your usual reasoned approach to the discussion.

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  32. Some people are just evil.

    Unfortunately, it's very hard to figure out who those people are until they do something like this.

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  33. "Unfortunately, it's very hard to figure out who those people are until they do something like this."

    We can, though, work to make their potential victims as dangerous as possible.

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  34. "Why would the teenagers at the camp be armed? "

    the age ranged between 13 and 30, right? so well past the maturity age. do you think it is reasonable to concentrate 600 people of that age range for a political event and not having security details? especially when a prime minister is expected within hours?

    I hope Norway will grow out of their self-imposed naivite. for their sake. that's all. they are already well armed, well above say Massachusetts, where I live. they just need a different mindset....I'm a naturalized american, but I'm from Europe. I know how they think.

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  35. We've gone over this before, Max. It sounds like you are quite sure you know better than the Norwegians and all of Europe. It must be nice to be so self assured. But I don't buy your arguments and, apparently, neither do most of the countries of Europe, and for that matter, the world.

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  36. The number who died in Norway is the same as the number who die by gunfire in America EVERY DAY (including suicide and accidents).

    It's important to point out that that the assault rifle (which he claimed he needed for hunting!) and other weapons and ammo he used were purchased legally, and are legal here as well. There's nothing stopping the same thing from happening here:

    http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2011/07/confirmed-breivik-bought-guns-legally.html

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  37. Except in America spree shooters are highly likely to encounter armed citizens who will shoot back! Potential American mass murderers know this, which is why most spree shootings happen in what we like to call Victim Disarmament Zones, aka "Gun Free" zones like schools, government buildings and military bases (contrary to popular belief the soldiers don't just walk around with loaded rifles).

    --JMB's Ghost

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  38. Give me a time when someone has shot back at a spree shooter, JMB's Ghost. I mean an ordinary citizen with a gun.

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  39. Here is a great chart to compare U.S. gun deaths with Norway's. No comparison- http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compare/136/rate_of_gun_homicide/194,65,178,50,232,91,125

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  40. Here is an interesting article about the police in Norway being unarmed. I'm sure many of my readers will have opinions about this one. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/world/europe/26police.html?hp

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  41. "Give me a time when someone has shot back at a spree shooter, JMB's Ghost. I mean an ordinary citizen with a gun. "

    Here's a pile between the original post and the comments: http://www.saysuncle.com/2007/12/10/mass_murderers_v_armed_citizens-2/

    http://www.saysuncle.com/2008/05/08/a-recurring-theme/

    http://www.saysuncle.com/2010/01/08/one-armed-citizen/

    BTW-happy belated birthday, and glad to see your folks across the pond are ok.

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  42. Show me a mass shooting that didn't occur in a gun free zone and/or a non-permissive CCW state first. The Tucson shooting is the only one I can think of, and although an armed citizen arrived at the scene to late too shoot (and correctly assessed the situation I might add) it's highly likely that there weren't too many armed citizens at a meeting with a Democrat (who traditionally aren't the staunchest supporters of armed self defense). There's a reason that spree killers don't target places like gun shows and biker rallies...

    --JMB's Ghost

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  43. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14817480/detail.html

    Ask and you shall receive. Note that the church security guard was a private citizen with a license to carry a firearm, who was protecting the church of which she was a member. She was not an off-duty police officer or rent-a-cop. Also note that the killer had several guns and as much as 1000 rounds of ammo, so without being able to read his mind (even if he were still walking this earth) I think it's safe to say that he was planning a spree shooting.

    Also, US citizens with a concealed carry permit are a relatively small number (about six million), and the number that actually carries on a regular basis is even smaller still. Spree shootings are also extremely rare, so in order for a shooting to be stopped by a CCer, you have to have the intersection of two extremely rare occurences. It won't happen often (not unless a whole lot more people start taking their own self-defense more serious), but it has apparently happened at least once. There is also the case of the guy who retrieved his gun from his backpack at the party to thwart the robbers who were discussing the option of killing everyone in the room. That also sounds like a potential mass murder averted to me.

    --JMB's Ghost

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  44. Thanks, LC. I knew you guys would provide me with something. The interesting thing is that many of the people with the guns got shot themselves. Most of the articles also said that they "likely" saved some lives. Someone in the comments section noted that you had better use that gun when you draw it because the shooter will certainly target you if you have your gun out. Also the commenter noted that you should be careful not so shoot the wrong person which would be easy to do in chaotic situations such as these. In most of these cases, the shooter was actually not stopped by the person with the gun, though.

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  45. YEs, JMB- I'm aware of that one and that's the one most often pointed out. The person in this case was employed as a security guard so not really a private citizen who happened to have a gun at a shooting scene. And that guard did save lives in that spree shooting.

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  46. Ok so some of the people who stopped the attack got shot themselves. Some where it is written that "greater love hath no man than lay down his life for another".

    In all of those cases, the responding shooter had made a decision that NO MATTER THE PRICE they would make a stand there. I have told my wife and children I love them more than life itself. If this were to happen and my efforts to save resulted in my demise, I am merely fulfilling my duty as a father.

    Life has no guarantees. You try to stack the deck in your favor but there are no do overs. Somehow suggesting as you do, that because the responding shooter did not walk away unharmed there is futility in the action is repugnant.

    If you were being assaulted and your husband intervened and lost a couple of teeth and a broken nose, would he care if he stopped the attack? How would you have felt if he said "I might get hurt, I'll go get the car so I can drive you to the hospital when they are done"? Or how about "I'll hide under this desk and hope they find someone else to hurt". Would that make you feel his actions were ok?

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  47. No, she was a private citizen with a concealed carry permit who worked as security for her church BECAUSE she was a private citizen with a concealed carry permit. The church had nothing to do with her getting or carrying a firearm.

    And like I said, the intersection of two rare events gets even rarer when the spree shootings predominantly gun free zones and states with non-permissive concealed carry. I'll try to come up with a list later and see how many could even have had the possibility of being stopped by a legal CCWer (there's always the off-chance that some otherwise law-abiding citizen who weighs the consequences and decides to carry for his own defense regardless of the laws might be there).

    --JMB's Ghost

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  48. Sweden considers changing its' gun laws in light of the shooting in Norway.
    http://www.thelocal.se/35158/20110726/

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  49. Sweden considers changing its' gun laws in light of the shooting in Norway.
    http://www.thelocal.se/35158/20110726/


    Great. Sweden doubles down.

    They take laws that demonstratively have NOT worked, and when they are demonstrated not to work, they . . . wait for it . . . do more of the same.

    Stupid is as stupid does, indeed.

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  50. Sweden is considering more common sense, actually. Good for them.

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  51. Uh-huh. It's worked so well so far . . . .

    Ask the families of the dead if they would choose to defend themselves or their loved ones, if they could.

    Go ahead. Ask them if they'd prefer to have the chance to defend themselves, or to go down like lambs to a slaughter.

    I'll wait.

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  52. So if this level of gun control completely failed to stop a determined terrorist, and ensured his victims lacked the most useful tools for defending themselves, how is more of this "common sense?"

    Isn't is either insane or uncommonly stupid?

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  53. I am so sorry for those in Norway. I also have family in Scandinavia and we have had some interesting discussion on the notion of gun control. As you mentioned, Norway has fairly strong gun control, yet this man still managed to cause such destruction. I wonder if it would have made a difference if looser gun policies might have seen an adult on the island with a gun that might have stopped the mad man before he killed all those innocents. We cannot change the past, only do our best to prevent a repeat. Regardless, my heart breaks for the families who have lost loved ones to this tragedy.

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