« N.Y. Times To Gun Owners: Be Reasonable You Crazy Freaks | Main | Swiss Minigun, The World’s Smallest Revolver »

March 04, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Shots at its new location: www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots.

New gun debate site: Mea culpa or public service?

Most of the farm-country pickups parked in front of the rural high school I attended had gun racks in their rear windows, many filled with squirrel guns and deer rifles.

It never occurred to me at the time that I was either particularly endangered or protected by the private arsenal in the parking lot. But school shootings over the past decade have made me revisit my own experience in high school.

I’d like to think that the proximity of guns to my school – this was prior to “Gun-Free” zoning – made shootings less likely. Or at least the scale of them far less severe.

The scenario I imagine will be familiar to anyone who has thought of alternatives to a mass shooting. First, the ability of potential victims to easily fetch a gun would neutralize the sort of predatory behavior that these shooters have displayed. They have preyed on helpless victims, and when confronted by law enforcers or students who fought back they typically have killed themselves.

That’s classic bully behavior, and I would like to think that student with access to guns would be deterrents to mass murder.

At the very least, I expect that a student with a rifle in his or her pickup might be able to stop a school shooter before they could rack up the body count, responding in kind after the first couple of shots. In many of the nation’s schools, law enforcement is a long way off and seconds count when a shooter is on the prowl.

Gun-free zones, I maintain, have made students more vulnerable, not safer.

These perspectives are not new or unique to me, but they are getting a wider audience with a new web site from a surprising source. It’s www.gundebate.com and its sponsor is Eric Thompson, the Green Bay, Wisc., man who runs a number of virtual gun stores. His www.topglock.com was the source for high-capacity magazines and a holster used by Stephen Kazmierczak, the Northern Illinios University grad student who killed five people last month. The Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, obtained a Walther P22 from Thompson’s www.gunsource.com.

Does that make Thompson complicit in gun violence? He doesn’t think so, but his role in two of the most recent school shootings, the “unfortunate twist of fate” that made him the common denominator in the shootings, prompted the launch of gundebate.com. Thompson says he wants to move the national conversation about gun control, public safety and gun violence into a broader context, to promote what he calls “constructive dialog” about guns. He is inviting gun writers on both sides of the issue to contribute to the site, which features reader forums, a news tracker and background information on gun control, gun-carry laws and 2nd Amendment issues.

Will it make a difference? Will mass shootings in America’s schools be a disturbing footnote to history? Will America’s students someday be able to drive guns to school? I’m not betting on it, but Thompson is taking a brave and necessary first step to promote an open, unbiased conversation about guns, gun violence and public safety. Because of his proximity to the issue, he’s the right person to launch this discussion. His site deserves attention, no matter which side of the issue you’re on.

- Andrew McKean


melvin edwards

Can't remember the last time I read about a "suicidal" nut case shooting up a police station, gun show, or hunting camp. It seems that they much prefer schools, where their victims are certain to be unarmed and helpless. Perhaps my logic is flawed, but from this I conclude that the availability of weapons for defense serves as an effective safe guard against such attacks.


I don't feel like guns in the parking lot would reduce the kind of shootings taking place at schools.. The shooter usually go into room and lock the door and shoots several individuals, then him/her selfs. It usually happen quickly, without warning.

Jim Kiser

One of the things I continue to notice is that everyone I read about in any situation whether it is a rapist, a shooter or a thunderstorm is the lack of situational awareness on the part of victims. People just do not pay attention to what is going on around them. Until people do pay attention to their surroundings they will continue to be caught unawares by bad people etc.


First, most of these shooters of innocents need the gun because they either feel powerless without them or seem to be acting out their own bullying scenario in which they lash out indiscriminately. My apologies to Jim Kiser, but even situational awareness won't pick up the time of attack for most of these.

Second, Sarg is also partially incorrect because there have already been two shootings which were ended quickly by a student in one event and a teacher in another event who each went to the parking lot to retrieve a firearm to stop the shooting and end the attack - it's just that they weren't widely reported because they used firearms to stop the sttacks and the press didn't want to feed the self defense argument.

Third, Melvin is correct because these shooters are 'amateurs' in the area of firearms and go to places where they will be dominant and, they hope, unchallenged. As happened in the church guarded by the parishoner, she surprised him and shot him in probably the LAST place he expected to encounter an armed person.

Because of these kinds of incidents, I carry very often now, and won't let my wife (who won't carry) or daughter (who's too young) go to the mall, or movies or other larger gatherings without my being there, armed. Both sons have carry permits and are proficient with their chosen handguns - and carry whenever they legally can. We all would rather be judged by 12 than be carried, or have other innocents, carried by 6, even though our state doesn't have the Castle Doctrine, yet.

I do congratulate Eric Thompson for his brave and needed actions to start the dialogue of both sides. I hope that we can show many who don't know the facts and are only reacting emotionally can be persuaded that we're not here to promote violence, but rather to control it through the right kind of intimidation - that the lawless are afraid to act out of fear of immediate and decisive action by another citizen.

However, I'm realistic. (Like the abortion 'argument') I'm sure that there are many die-hard people who can accept nothing less than the complete elimination of all private ownership of firearms, especially handguns, and they will continue to politic against us. We have to accept this, but again, kudos to Eric. I will definitely go to his site right after these comments are posted.

Jack Morris

With regards to the terrible situation at Virginia Tech., I think there would be several people still alive if the Holocaust survivor could have been armed while he was trying to protect his students.

steve thompson

times surely have changed/I once borrowed 15 dollars from a teacher to buy a pistol from a student at school.we kept it in the parking lot but it was there no problem .HOW would people feel, if the laws were changed so women could only vote in local elections? then in a few years they would lose that right also. The gun laws in this country are being eroded away ,slowly a piece at a time. maybe after these rights are gone then it may be possible we all lose our right to vote. i'm not sure what the answer is to guns in school, but even 1 of the crazies wouldn't be so crazy if he knew guns were there .The right to bear arms should not be infringed upon . 6phunter