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January 13, 2011 08:06 PM UTC

At Least He's Not Your Congressman

  • by: Colorado Pols

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks had some thoughts about the Tucson shootings, but perhaps he should not have voiced them. As Roll Call explains:

A Republican from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ home state of Arizona suggested Wednesday that the shooting rampage that injured Giffords and killed or wounded 19 others could have been stopped sooner had there been more armed people at the scene.

“I wish there had been one more gun there that day in the hands of a responsible person,” Rep. Trent Franks told reporters Wednesday when asked about calls for stricter gun laws in the wake of the shootings.

Sure, several more people with guns shooting at each other would have made everything much better. It would have been helpful if there were more trained law enforcement officials with guns at the scene, but we have a hard time seeing how this would not have been worse had several more civilians opened fire. Even “responsible” people may not be particularly accurate with a handgun — especially in a crowded public area.  


55 thoughts on “At Least He’s Not Your Congressman

  1. My understanding is Rep. Giffords was the first one shot, and the was no time for anyone to react. And with a crowd of people running everywhere in terror, THE ABSOLUTE LAST THING I would want is some citizen gunslinger opening fire too. It’s ridiculous.

    Law enforcement train for years and know their weapons back to front. That’s why we have them.

    1. A civilian is somehow precluded from knowing their weapon and the law back to front?

      I’d go up against a number of the cops I know in a marksmanship contest.

      1. But having “just one more gun” wouldn’t have automatically made things safer or made the outcome of that event better than it was.

        See Dan’s post below on the guy who did have a concealed weapon.

      2. I can cut the hole out of targets on range too.  But, the last thing I would do is pull a weapon in a crowd with a killer shooting all around.

        Besides the obvious attention getter and drawing fire from the killer and most likely receive a few rounds from any police or protective service personnel trying to control the firefight, those shots would be deadly too.  How do you know you would be shooting the correct person and that your bullets would not pass through your victim and into others?  

        The fallacy of carrying a gun and being the “heero” (I covered the “heero” thing a while ago) in a firefight is just that.  When there is gun action the typical take down is by a cop or former cop.  This case was different, the killer stopped to put in another magazine and it was pulled from him.  Otherwise he would have gone on with the slaughter.  The man who was going to fire on the killer held his fire, he could not be sure of doing the job.  He was smart.

        I am so tired of the righties and their “I’m gonna be a heero” speech.  I suppose they should do that and see how much dead they are afterwards and the cops are saying they did not know the idiot was supposed to be the “heero”.

      3. Is nothing like shooting at actual people in a crowded place. Just because you can shoot up a piece of paper real well doesn’t mean those skills would translate into a situation like the one in Tucson.

        The bottom line here is that another person with a gun near Giffords does NOT mean that the outcome would have changed, and there’s a good possibility that it would have been worse if there were a crossfire of bullets.

        What’s the NRA like to say? “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Well, the same is true in reverse. Guns don’t make people safer just because they exist in a given situation.

            1. As much as you can.

              I still don’t understand why this guy making the right decision is being used as an example as to how you can’t trust CCW holders to make good judgments.

              1. ..and he said a number of times. He did not say that he exited the building with his weapon on fire, scanned the target area and id’d that the shooter had been disarmed and holstered his weapon.

                He said he almost shot the guy that disarmed the shooter. Barely.

                It’s luck, not training. I want CCW weapon guys to have the training, and then the luck.

              2. As Mr. Zamudio said, “My father raised me around guns … so I’m really comfortable with them. But I’ve never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted.”

                He was extremely lucky that he did hold his fire.  Yes, it was a good judgment, but not one that was driven by being properly trained.  Really, what kind of trained CCW holder would carry his handgun in his jacket pocket?  That just screams amateur hour.

              3. how you can think that ALL concealed carriers will be as dedicated and professional as you claim to be. Do you really not see that many will be ignorant, or careless, or scared or whatever in the environment when bullets are flying?

                The Wild West ended when citizens realized they were getting killed in the cross-fire of the cowboys and their shoot-outs. Most people DON’T want to return to those days. And in a Democracy, the majority does get to decide that sane, reasonable and rational regulations of weapons are allowed, even under the context of the Second Amendment.

                1. I’m sure there are stories, but just look at CO.

                  When’s the last time we had a controversial incident with a CCW holder?

                  And there are literally hundreds of thousands of licenses in our State.

                  1. how many opportunities have there been to prvent mass-murder in Colorado in the past few years? After Columbine, I believe there was one at the high school up in Littleton?

                    It is well withing the rest of our rights to regulate gun ownership and use and not violate the rights of gun owners. If the majority doesn’t want to return to the wild, wild west, then we are withing our rights not to do so.

                    And funny how conservatives are all for local control and state control until it is about an issue they think should be federally controlled. Just like the DC law banning certain firearms within city limiits. But all those defenders of gun rights have been doing a bang up job stopping the murders there, huh?

  2. Implied within his statement is the assumption that the responsible person with a gun would shoot the “bad guy” and not the “good guys.” That assumption is very important and is inappropriate. For instance, using what happened in Tucson as an example, what if someone had tackled the shooter and the the other person with a gun came out of the Safeway, saw the shooter and the person who tackled him struggling for the gun, and he/she drew his/her gun and shot the guy who tackled the shooter because he/she misjudged who the person was who needed to be stopped. Unfortunately, Rep. Franks is assuming instantaneous identification of who the person is committing the criminal act. That won’t necessarily be the case.

    This is not an argument for or against gun control. It is an opinion that just because other law abiding people may have a gun available does not equate to a good outcome.  

    1. Armed Giffords hero nearly shot wrong man

      The new poster boy for this agenda is Joe Zamudio, a hero in the Tucson incident. Zamudio was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed. He ran to the scene and helped subdue the killer. Television interviewers are celebrating his courage, and pro-gun blogs are touting his equipment. “Bystander Says Carrying Gun Prompted Him to Help,” says the headline in the Wall Street Journal.

      But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!'”

      But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.

      Zamudio agreed:

      “I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.”

      I’ve made this point sooooo many times on this site when the Gundamentalist thump their chests and say that “if I had a gun, I’d be bustin’ some caps in the perp!”

      Owning a gun does not make you a SWAT Team member or a Special Ops Soldier. Neither does playing “Call of Duty” – and the combination can be lethal in a real firefight. The training necessary to just function in a firefight comes from endless repetition on a firing range or in a tirehouse under realistic conditions.

      I do also love how the Gundamentalist community is hooting about how concealed carry laws have been vindicated. BULLSHIT.

      The meme has always been with Gun Freaks that if everyone is armed, then criminals are less likely to offend because they don’t know who’s packin’. Arizona has the most liberal gun laws in the nation, and it STILL didn’t prevent that kook Loughner from bringing a combat handguns and multiple rounds to a grocery store and kill people.

      1. He made the right decision.  Nice work.

        I’m a big fan of being as proficient with your weapon as you possibly can – it’s part of the responsibility of carrying, and knowing the law in and out is imperative.

        How do you know a cop would have told a different story than this guy?

        In fact, ask a cop sometimes if he’s ever been in a situation where he almost shot the wrong person.

        1. There was someone else there that day with a gun.  And it didn’t stop anything, and it almost resulted in a heroic person being shot (and kudos to the guy for having the training and presence to hold off…).

          Arming the crowd would not have altered the situation, and Rep. Trent Franks is blowing smoke up his supporters’ asses with his statement.

        2. Maybe Cops in Tuscon get only scant weapon training and time on the range, but that’s still much more than the average gun owner who picks up some cool-lookin’ 9mil at Sports Authority ’cause it was on sale.

          Again, I’m ok with Colorado Concealed Weapons law because (wait for it) you get trained! You get time in the classroom and the range before you get your permit.

          Getting a CW permit because you wrote a check to the State is a recipe for a  disaster….


  3. There were apparently other people in the crowd with guns, according to my gun-loving conservative law enforcement friend.

    One more gun?  There were already more guns; they didn’t change the situation, and Rep. Franks, if he knows this, is either reacting to the gun regulation debate that’s gone on since the shooting, or simply using the shooting to try and shamelessly promote his own support for less gun regulation.

    1. Outside of pandering to his base, I can’t see any point to this statement. If I understand it correctly, AZ already allows CWC without a permit. (Makes about as much sense as letting people drive without a license IMO.) Does this rep want to make CWC mandatory for everyone?

        1. I’m not arguing against CWC (other than the unlicensed part), just wondering if there’s any real point to this rep’s comment.

          BTW, my hunch about Vermont is that its demographics probably tell a good story about its violent crime rate – there are always patterns to be discerned when you look at them.

          1. …see above. Knowing the law about packing your 9MM in Starbucks is not the same as having real training on engaging targets in a combat situation.

            You can read about OODA or play “Call of Duty,” but the only way you can really know how to do it is practice it. And even then, when people are screaming horrifically, running around madly, and the smell of blood and gunpowder mixed together seems to be the only thing in your head, you’re going to make mistakes. Lethal ones.

  4. I do not know, but would assume Rep. Franks has had public events in the past and intends to have them in the future.  Which is safer:  (1) encouraging everyone over the age of 18 attending to pack a weapon, or (2) establish reasonable procedures so that no one, other than trained law enforcement, is armed.  He is advocating for the first option.  That is not rational.

    1. on how long it will be before Rep. Franks holds a large outdoors public event in Tucson and invites everyone to bring their favorite Glock loaded with 30-round clips?

      I think I’ll take . . . NEVER.

  5. I’m a pro-gun as we bleeding heart liberals come. I don’t own one yet, but once I’ve had adequate safety and marksmanship training, I will keep a firearm in my home for personal protection. I even agree with the argument that, in general, the more safe and responsible people in any given room have guns, the less likely it is that one criminal will feel safe starting a ruckus.

    But, come on, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that what might work on a would-be robber at 7-11 isn’t going to work on an schizophrenic terrorist with an automatic weapon. Never mind that, like two shooters Colorado remembers very clearly, many people committing large-scale murders like this intend to kill themselves anyway. What’s a gun supposed to do to stop someone who doesn’t want to survive?

    Hell, I have a hard time even believing that armed law enforcement officers in the crowd would have made a big difference. By the time Loughlin was able to reach the event and get within firing distance, there were going to be numerous casualties no matter who was present. Maybe sharpshooters on the roofs of nearby buildings, a la Obama’s outdoor appearances, would have been able to drop him as soon as he drew a weapon. But the average trained police officer would have been out of his or her depth and likely would have had to hold fire due to the presence of bystanders such as the brave woman who grabbed Loughlin’s extra magazine.

    The book “On Combat” provides in-depth information on how police officers and armed services personnel are trained in when and how to fire, if anyone’s interested. I think the author would agree with me that this particular shooter would have been neither deterred nor stopped by any armed presence short of a sharpshooter noticing his weapon before he fired.

    1. If the hypothetical sharpshooter would have been lucky, or incredibly cognizant, as Rep. Giffords was shot from a distance of only four feet, then, possibly, a difference could have been made by a professional.

      As sad as the event was (and I cried after I called Rep. Perlmutter’s office to comment on proposed legislation), Rep. Franks remarks only make me sadder. He should know better. That kind of crap from Palin, Beck or Limbaugh is maddeningly expected. But coming from Franks, it shows the Gun-nuts’ penchants for actually pushing against reason, whenever this happens.

      1. It’s always a shame to see political discourse about gun rights turn into a push and pull between extremists. Ban ’em all or arm every man, woman, child, and houseplant? There’s a middle ground and I think most gun owners are already standing on it, but rarely do we hear of it from the politicians who make gun issues part of their platform.

    2. As a gun owning liberal, I completely agree.

      Although used in strategic military training originally,  OODA has been used on a tactical level as well and good dynamic police shoot/don’t shoot training shares elements as well.

      OODA–Observe, Orient, Decide, Act–is the decision making chain that occurs.  What do I see, what does that mean, what do I do about it, do it.

      The notion that bystander simply by having the means (a gun) to take a certain action (shooting), would there by make the correct decision on what action to take without any training on either observing or orienting the information is ludicrous.

      A greater tragedy is more likely to result as guns are pulled out from hiding when everybody is armed.

      Untrained observers will make observation errors on who the first shooter was, they will get tunnel vision and improperly orient themselves and not see the bystanders resulting in collateral damage, they may decide to act as he describes, but without training the odds increase of a disaster.

      This is why the police and military train…a lot.

      1. Particularly the mention of sensory distortion, including tunnel vision, experienced even by expert first responders when firing in this sort of circumstance. An average gun owner unprepared for these distortions would likely panic.

        Really, when an average gun owner deters a criminal in a public place, it’s going to be simply by drawing his or her firearm. If the would-be criminal doesn’t stop or run when they see they aren’t the only armed person in the vicinity, it becomes a situation unlikely to end well for anyone.  

    3. It seems to me the best response to this tragedy would be to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and to limit the clip sizes.  Something like thirty shots were fired before he tried to reload.  Limiting clip sizes to about 10 bullets might have prevented 20 shots from being fired.


      1. But the limit disappeared when the assault weapons ban wasn’t renewed.

        30-bullet magazines have been selling like hotcakes all week because people are afraid that what you suggest might actually happen.

      2. At worst a smaller clip size is just a little less fun at the firing range. At best it saves lives. Easy call IMO.

        As for the assault weapons ban, I think we can pretty much all agree that nobody who isn’t actually trying to raise a militia (per Second Amendment) needs an assault rifle, but I’m not sure I  see a compelling argument for reinstating the ban.

        The major sticking point for me is simply that it is impossible, without unreasonably restricting civil liberties, to prevent crazy people from having access to materials that could kill an equivalent number of people. Look at Palestine–incredibly tight restrictions on what can be brought in, yet bombs still don’t seem to be hard to come by. I don’t see any good reason a civilian should have an assault rifle, but I’m not convinced that the benefits outweigh the small encroachment on constitutional liberties.

          1. If you’re in a situation, as a civilian, when a standard load in a handgun is not enough, your in too much trouble already.  Extended clips aren’t much use outside of fun at the range.

        1. ..but I want it based on consensus of experts, not a bunch of folks running for re-election.

          The epic S**** H***** and Laughing Boy gun control thread had some asides from me about the definition of a”combat weapon” and not the politically-consumable term “assault weapon.”

          I know what a combat weapon looks like versus and everyday firearm. Just like I know the dif between erotica and pornography. I just can’t make a list.

  6. Why do they think every civilian with a gun is Wyatt Earp, and the bad guys are wearing black hats (or keffiyehs)? Is it willful ignorance or base pandering?  NO, you can’t say both. And you can’t say Franks is crazy.  

  7. A bunch of civilians whipping out guns and firing probably would have led to more casualties.  The gunman was stopped by people going after him with their hands and a chair, probably a much better option in a crowd than a bunch of amateurs blasting away.

  8. My thought is that if I was law enforcement coming to the scene where you didn’t know exactly what was happening or how many shooters there were, anyone who was law enforcement would see anyone NOT in law enforcement (ie: civilians with guns) as potentially part of the THREAT, not “help.”  Unless they were wearing their “I’m a good guy with a gun shirts” of course!  

    1. there probably were several guns in the area.  Most people don’t automatically think confusion=bring gun out.  Minds don’t think that quickly.

      What’s worse is that I wouldn’t have thought this was necessarily a gun issue at all.  This guy obsessed for years.  It’s not like if he wouldn’t have been able to get a legal gun that one day he would have found a stamp in his pocket and thought, “It’s a sign!  Letter campaign part X!”  In fact, when you consider the alternatives to getting whatever his point was across in a way that he felt was necessary, it could’ve been much worse.

      But no, instead of having the probably reasonable discussion about AZ’s gun laws (I can’t think anyone was reassured when this weapon was apparently legal), this guy goes straight for the “gunfights are good” scenario.  So now I do think it’s a gun issue after all.  I don’t want people this dumb having easy access.  “I’m not armed.”  ???  “I done shot him ’cause ifn’ he was lying about having them thar arms he was probably the shooter.  Why else lie?”

    2. I believe it was, said that he told one of the group who, along with him, was involved in tackling and subduing the guy.  This other guy had picked up the gun and the older military man told him he’d better put it down right now as any authorities arriving on the scene might think he was the shooter.  How tragic would that have been? Nobody was injured in the melee that ended the shooting by stray hands, feet or chair.

      It’s one thing protecting yourself with your gun on a lonely highway or at home against an intruder, quite another to start shooting at someone in a crowd of innocent people not knowing if any particular person also wielding a gun is an attacker or a defender.

  9. The only ones who would have had a clear line of fire at Loughner were the same ones who were in HIS line of fire: the victims.

    Yes, Rep. Franks: what a shame that Rep. Giffords and the other victims weren’t carrying heat. “They were asking for it.”

    1. This is what he had to say about President Obama:

      ”He has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity.”

      – Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), on President Obama’s decision to fund international family planning organizations that support legal abortion, Sept. 26, 2009

      His office tried to walk it back later but I would like to see the media question him about this quote every time they talk to him, over and over and over.  

      Of course he was playing to his base but enough asking him about that quote might eventually make him think before he speaks like this about the President of the United States.  Enough is enough!  Show a little respect!

  10. I wrote this 3 years ago in the Post.  I don’t see any need to change a single word.

    Once again, a disturbed young man has proven that as long as guns are cheap, so is life. When disaffected students with little income other than their allowance or minimum-wage jobs can afford to buy high-powered weapons, even the NRA should feel ashamed.

    The perceived absolute rights granted by the Second Amendment may not let us ban guns completely, but it says nothing about guaranteeing easy and affordable access to guns of all shapes, caliber and killing power. So I propose a local, state and national excise tax on guns, much as we do for cigarettes. And I’m not talking about a few cents or a couple of dollars per weapon. Considering the estimated $100 billion annual costs associated with gun violence in America, the tax should be in the hundreds of dollars for most handguns, leading to several thousand dollars for assault weapons and the like.

    For the committed hunters, I would allow a cumulative, incremental break based on their record of hunting permits over the years, and then only for hunting rifles. No AK-47’s for shooting Bambi! And no city slicker “born-again hunters” buying up licenses the week before going to the gun show. For youngsters just starting out hunting with their dads – guess what, they can borrow Dad’s guns for a few years – I’m sure the family will have plenty to choose from.

    I don’t kid myself that this won’t happen again, and nothing will have changed then either.

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