Observations about Ft. Hood

It's still too soon to know all of the details of the attack that occurred at Ft. Hood, Texas yesterday, but here are some of my preliminary observations:

1. Like many before it, this attack took place in a gun-free zone; gun-free zones therefore do not prevent attacks, and arguably make these attacks more successful.

2. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. In this case the police responded quickly, but the attacker still had time to shoot 41 people. That's a lot.

3. If anybody can be trusted to carry firearms at all times it is members of our military. Like police officers, hunters and millions of law-abiding citizens, they have been trained in the safe use and handling of guns.

4. Like police officers, members of the military are targeted for attack.

5. It's impossible to predict ahead of time who will attempt to murder someone, so attempting to restrict firearms to sane, stable people, or even to just police and the military, will not prevent this kind of attack.


  1. I enjoyed our conversation the other day, and I'll add my responses here.

    1. Gun-free zones do not entirely prevent attacks, but it would be reasonable to think there might be fewer attacks in gun-free zones (that's sort of the idea). This is an unobservable benefit, because we generally do not know when it works.
    It would be interesting to get some data on the incidence of attacks in gun-"full" versus gun-free zones, though it might be difficult to make fair comparisons.

    2. I heard something on the news that some of the casualties may have been from friendly fire. Sad and unfortunate, if true.

    3. I think there needs to be a distinction made for police: they are trained to use firearms in public situations. Knowing how to handle a firearm is not sufficient for using it responsibly.

    5. I know what you are trying to say, but you sort of contradict yourself. It might be better to restricted access to guns for in-sane, un-stable people, because we predict these sorts are more likely to use guns to murder. Again, this will not stop a determined attacker, but it may slow them down. We also never observe the cases where restrict prevents an attack.

  2. I am interested in any evidence that gun-free zones reduce the incidence or severity of gun violence. I believe that gun-free zones increase the severity of gun violence that occurs within them, but that's based on reason not statistics.

    I am reluctant to deprive someone of their civil rights based on their mental state, even though a strong case can be made for the practical benefits of doing so (e.g. literacy tests at polling places).