Armed Parishoners Avert Massacre

(p. A1) WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas — A gunman opened fire at a church in Texas on Sunday morning [December 29, 2019], killing two people with a shotgun before a member of the church’s volunteer security team fatally shot him, the authorities said.

About 250 people were inside the auditorium of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, near Fort Worth, when the gunman began shooting just before communion, said Jack Cummings, a minister at the church.

Mr. Cummings said the gunman was “acting suspiciously” before the shooting and drew the attention of the church’s security team. The team, he said, has existed for at least 10 years and is made up of members of the church’s congregation who are licensed to carry firearms and practice shooting regularly.

“They saved a lot of lives today,” Mr. Cummings said. “Because this thing would have been a massacre otherwise.”

For the full story, see:

Patrick McGee and Mihir Zaveri. “‘This Would Have Been a Massacre’ if Not for Church Security.” The New York Times (Monday, December 30, 2019): A9.

(Note: bracketed date added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated on December 31, 2019, and has the title “Shooting at Texas Church Leaves 2 Parishioners Dead, Officials Say.”)

Schools Are Safer Today Than 20 Years Ago

(p. A9) Americans believe schools are more unsafe today than they were two decades ago, according to a new poll — even as federal data shows that by most measures, schools have become safer.

. . .

A survey last month of 1,063 adults by The Associated Press and the N.O.R.C. Center at the University of Chicago found that 74 percent of parents of school-age children, and 64 percent of nonparents, believed schools were more unsafe today than they were in 1999. Only 35 percent of parents said they felt “very confident” that their child was safe at school.

. . .

Their fears run counter to the data presented in a federal report released this week. School is still among the safest places an American child can be.

Homicide is a leading cause of death for American youth, but the vast majority of those deaths take place at home or in the neighborhood. Between 1992 and 2016, just 3 percent of youth homicides and 1 percent of youth suicides took place at school, according to the federal report.

School crime levels decreased between 2001 and 2017. The number of students between 12 and 18 years old who reported being the victim of a violent crime at school over the past six months dropped from 2 to 1 percent. Incidents of theft, physical fights, the availability of illegal drugs and bullying also went down.

These changes echo the national drop in crime.

For the full story, see:

Dana Goldstein.  “Schools Are Safer, Even if They Feel Less So.”  The New York Times (Saturday, April 20, 2019):  A9.

(Note:  ellipses added.)

(Note:  the online version of the story also has the date April 20, 2019, but has the title “20 Years After Columbine, Schools Have Gotten Safer. But Fears Have Only Grown.”)

Women, the Elderly, and Poor Blacks Benefit Most from Carrying Guns

(p. A17) A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that there are now more than 16.3 million concealed handgun permits in the U.S., up 1.83 million since last July. Far more people carry guns today than in 2007, when there were only 4.6 million permits.
. . .
Women are largely fueling the increase. Among the eight states that had data from 2012-16, permits for men grew by 22% and permits for women soared by 93%.
. . .
My research has demonstrated that the two groups that benefit the most from carrying guns are the likeliest victims of crime (poor blacks in high-crime urban areas) and people who are physically weaker (women and the elderly). Dozens of published peer-reviewed studies find similar results.

For the full commentary, see:
John R. Lott Jr. “Women and Minorities Bear Arms.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 20, 2017): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 19, 2017.)

For Homicides, School Is Safer Than Home or Neighborhood

(p. A13) While homicide is among the leading causes of death for young people, school is a relative haven compared with the home or the neighborhood. According to the most recent federal data, between 1992 and 2015, less than 3 percent of homicides of children 5 to 18 years old occurred at school, and less than 1 percent of suicides.
“Especially in the younger grades, school is the safest place they can be,” said Melissa Sickmund, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.
. . .
Chris Dorn, a senior analyst at Safe Havens International, said that after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, his organization saw an uptick in demand for its services, completing 1,000 school security assessments in one year. Interest is even greater now. By this fall, Safe Havens expects to have done 1,000 assessments just since the Parkland, Fla., shooting in February.
The group tells schools that the biggest safety risks have not changed, and are less likely to be mass shootings than “petty theft, assault, child abduction due to custody issues or sexual predators,” Mr. Dorn said.

For the full story, see:

Dana Goldstein. “Grim Tally Obscures Statistical Reality: Schools Are ‘Safest Place’ for Children.” The New York Times (Wednesday, May 23, 2018): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 22, 2018, and has the title “Why Campus Shootings Are So Shocking: School Is the ‘Safest Place’ for a Child.”)

Americans Increasingly Buying Guns for Self-Defense

(p. A11) A new study of gun ownership in the United States notes a shift: Americans are increasingly interested in handguns, the types of small weapons that are easily hidden and used for self-defense, rather than rifles and shotguns used for hunting and shooting sports.
The study, conducted in 2015 by researchers from Harvard and Northeastern, sought to better understand the size and composition of the country’s gun inventory. It found that handguns made up 42 percent of the country’s privately owned firearms, up from 34 percent in 1994.

For the full story, see:
JULIE TURKEWITZ and TROY GRIGGS. “Looking for Security, More in U.S. Pick Up a Handgun.” The New York Times (Sat., OCT. 15, 2016): A11.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 14, 2016, and has the title “Handguns Are the New Home Security.”)

Estonia Encourages Citizens to Own Guns to Defend Freedom

(p. A4) Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.
. . .
(p. A10) Encouraging citizens to stash warm clothes, canned goods, boots and a rifle may seem a cartoonish defense strategy against a military colossus like Russia. Yet the Estonians say they need look no further than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to see the effectiveness today, as ever, of an insurgency to even the odds against a powerful army.
Estonia is hardly alone in striking upon the idea of dispersing guns among the populace to advertise the potential for widespread resistance, as a deterrent.
Of the top four nations in the world for private gun ownership — the United States, Yemen, Switzerland and Finland — the No. 3 and 4 spots belong to small nations with a minutemen-style civilian call-up as a defense strategy or with a history of partisan war.
“The best deterrent is not only armed soldiers, but armed citizens, too,” Brig. Gen. Meelis Kiili, the commander of the Estonian Defense League, said in an interview in Tallinn, the capital.
The number of firearms, mostly Swedish-made AK-4 automatic rifles, that Estonia has dispersed among its populace is classified. But the league said it had stepped up the pace of the program since the Ukraine crisis began. Under the program, members must hide the weapons and ammunition, perhaps in a safe built into a wall or buried in the backyard.

For the full story, see:
ANDREW E. KRAMER. “TURI JOURNAL; Wary of Russia’s Ambitions, Estonia Prepares a Nation of Insurgents.” The New York Times (Tues., NOV. 1, 2016): A4 & A10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 31, 2016, and has the title “TURI JOURNAL; Spooked by Russia, Tiny Estonia Trains a Nation of Insurgents.”)

“We Can Fight Back When Our Lives Depend on It”

(p. A23) San Jose, Calif. — I’LL never forget the first piece of safety advice I got when I began my transition from the male body in which I was born to the female body I now occupy: Carry a whistle. If I was attacked, I was supposed to blow it in hopes it would alert some do-gooder to dash into a dark alley to break up a brutal hate crime.
The idea was not only preposterous, it was also insulting. The implication was that I, being transgender, wouldn’t be able to save myself. But I didn’t need a whistle; I had a gun.
Since the attack in Orlando, Fla., many L.G.B.T. groups have been calling loudly for laws restricting gun ownership. But if anyone should be concerned about protecting the individual right to bear arms, it’s L.G.B.T. people. We need to stop preaching nonviolence and voting for politicians who don’t protect us.
Violence toward L.G.B.T. people is real. We are victimized at far greater rates than other minority groups. We often face multiple assailants. The attacks are frenzied and quickly escalate from harassment, to fists, to something altogether different. People die.
If you find yourself in a violent encounter, you’re lucky if you get three seconds to react. If you want to save yourself, you have to go on the offensive. And a whistle isn’t going to cut it.
. . .
But every day, Americans use guns to defend themselves, and they don’t even have to pull the trigger. The mere appearance of a firearm can save their life. Just last week, Tom G. Palmer, now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote in an op-ed article in The New York Daily News about an episode in his 20s when he flashed his pistol at a group of men who were threatening to kill him because he was gay — and they retreated.
This is a call to L.G.B.T. people to take their own defense seriously, and to question the left-leaning institutions that tell them guns are bad, and should be left to the professionals. Become a professional. You’re allowed. That’s what the Second Amendment is for. We can fight back when our lives depend on it.

For the full commentary, see:

NICKI STALLARD. “The L.G.B.T. Case for Guns.” The New York Times (Weds., JUNE 22, 2016): A23.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

After Hiding Under Desk, Student Wants Gun to Protect Self and Others

(p. A1) ROSEBURG, Ore. — A week has passed since J. J. Vicari huddled underneath a desk while gunshots exploded in the classroom next door. Now he is thinking about guns. Not about tightening gun laws, as President Obama urged after nine people were killed at the community college here. But about buying one for himself.
“It’s opened my eyes,” said Mr. Vicari, 19. “I want to have a gun in the house to protect myself, to protect the people I’m with. I’m sure I’ll have a normal life and never have to go through anything like this, but I want to be sure.”

For the full story, see:
JACK HEALY and JULIE TURKEWITZ. “Common Response After Killings in Oregon: ‘I Want to Have a Gun’.” The New York Times (Thurs., OCT. 8, 2015): A1 & A18.
(Note: the online version of the article was dated OCT. 7, 2015.)

Missouri Teachers Trained to Defend School with Guns

SydowAaronPrincipalFaiviewSchool2013-04-26.jpg “Aaron Sydow, the principal of Fairview School in West Plains, Mo., monitoring the halls. After the Newtown, Conn., shooting, the Fairview school board authorized paid training for staff members so that they could be armed.” Source of caption: print version of the NYT article quoted and cited below. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A10) WEST PLAINS, Mo. — At 8:30 on a cloudy, frigid morning late last month in this folksy Ozark town, the superintendent of an area school strolled through the glass doors of the local newspaper office to deliver a news release.

Hours later, the content of that release produced a front-page headline in The West Plains Daily Quill that caught residents off guard: “At Fairview School Some Employees Now Carry Concealed Weapons.”
That was how most parents of Fairview students learned that the school had trained some of its staff members to carry weapons, and the reaction was loud — and mostly gleeful.
“Sooo very glad to hear this,” a woman whose grandchildren attend Fairview posted on the Facebook page of The Quill, adding, “All schools in America should do this.”

For the full story, see:
JOHN ELIGON. “Rat Kidneys Made in Lab Point to Aid for Humans.” The New York Times (Mon., April 15, 2013): A10.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 14, 2013.)

Chicago Gun Ban Laws Do Not Stop Chicago Gun Deaths

(p. A1) CHICAGO — Not a single gun shop can be found in this city because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades, too, until 2010, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that was going too far, leading city leaders to settle for restrictions some describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban. Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.
And yet Chicago, a city with no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, finds itself laboring to stem a flood of gun violence that contributed to more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013, including a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday.
To gun rights advocates, the city provides stark evidence that even some of the toughest restrictions fail to make places safer. “The gun laws in Chicago only restrict the law-abiding citizens and they’ve essentially made the citizens prey,” said Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

For the full story, see:
MONICA DAVEY. “Strict Gun Laws in Chicago Can’t Stem Fatal Shots.” The New York Times (Weds., January 30, 2013): A1 & A18.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date January 29, 2013, and has the slightly different title “Strict Gun Laws in Chicago Can’t Stem Fatal Shots.”)

Entrepreneur Defends His Store with Gun

SpinelliAnthonyDefendedStore2011-06-05.jpg

“Anthony Spinelli, outside his store in the Bronx on Thursday, was called brave for shooting a man suspected of trying to rob his shop.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A23) On Arthur Avenue, a group of men piled out of Pasquale’s Rigoletto restaurant onto the sidewalk to pay their respects to a sudden local hero.

“Anthony, we love you,” they shouted across the street.
They summed up the local sentiment about a man, Anthony Spinelli, celebrated for protecting his livelihood. On Wednesday, Mr. Spinelli pulled one of two licensed guns in the store, and shot one of the three people suspected of trying to rob his Arthur Avenue jewelry store at gunpoint.
The Bronx neighborhood seemed energized by the event, which people here saw as a testament to the toughness of one of the last Italian neighborhoods in New York City.
“You don’t come in and try to take a man’s livelihood,” said Nick Lousido, who called himself a neighborhood regular. “His family’s store has 50 years on this block, they’re going to come in and rob him?”
On Thursday, Mr. Spinelli, 49, had returned to his shop and sized up the broken front windows and the mess inside. He said that a man and woman had entered his store, and the man had held a gun to his head while the woman had gone through jewelry drawers and stuffed jewelry into a bag. He said he had feared for his life, and that he was still shaken.
. . .
Next door to Mr. Spinelli’s shop is M & M Painter Supplies, which has photographs of Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa next to a paint color chart on the wall.
“He’s a very brave man,” said the store owner, Ernie Verino. “He had the gun, and it takes guts to use it.”

For the full story, see:
COREY KILGANNON. “Merchant Shooting to Defend His Store Is Celebrated as Hero of Arthur Avenue.” The New York Times (Fri., February 18, 2011): A23.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated February 17, 2011 and has the title “After Shooting, Merchant Is Hero of Arthur Avenue.”)