Immigration Reform and the Zero Sum Fallacy

Mark Zuckerberg has founded a new immigration reform advocacy group: FWD.us.

From his Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post
“The economy of the last century
was primarily based on natural resources, industrial machines and manual labor. Many of these resources were zero-sum and controlled by companies. If someone else had an oil field, then you did not. There were only so many oil fields, and only so much wealth could be created from them.

Today’s economy is very different. It is based primarily on knowledge and ideas — resources that are renewable and available to everyone. Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn’t prevent you from knowing it, too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

Although I disagree with Mr. Zuckerberg’s characterization of the oil economy;* I am very glad that Mr. Zuckerberg chose to point out the zero sum fallacy because I believe it is behind many of today’s bad policies and bad ideology. The zero sum fallacy is simple: because you have something I cannot.

More specifically:
“Rich” people have money that the poor could have had and therefore we need to redistribute it.
Your chances of gainful employment rely on keeping out competitors by force of government.

These ideas are simply wrong and they hurt everyone.

The wealthy:
The wealthy earn their wealth by providing a product or service to others who value it enough to spend their resources on it. Real wealth is generated not by theft but by innovation, hard work and thrift. Bill Gates didn’t take his billions from the rest of us, he created products that allowed us to live better lives and do things more efficiently. The wealthy must also use their capital well or they will lose it eventually no matter how large the fortune is. When we take that money in order to redistribute it to others we squander it in two ways. Firstly the government has no competition and is therefore inefficient by nature, historically delivering only about 50 cents on the dollar to “beneficiaries.” Secondly by taking capital away from people who have demonstrated skill and ability to use and giving it to people who have demonstrated the opposite we lose much of the value of that capital. For example, as an entrepreneur I might expand my business or start a new one with my capital, this would help others by employment or valuable services. If the government takes my capital to give to others that potential is lost or lessened. Whatever impact I could have made with that money will be lost and granted to the government. Would you rather men like Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg spend their capital or the same entity that runs the DMV and Post office? Some taxes for limited governmental responsibilities such as defense and law and order are necessary; but the less the government does and the less capital it takes the better for all.

Immigration:
Zuckerberg eloquently stated why immigration reform is good: “…someone else knowing something doesn’t prevent you from knowing it, too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.”

Zuckerberg knows that when we keep engineers and scientists and other skilled immigrants here we all benefit. These men and women create more jobs than they take. They also are our future problem solvers, perhaps one of them will advance cancer research and prolong and save lives in America. Perhaps one of them will create a better more efficient engine to power our cars. Elon Musk the current founder of Tesla and SpaceX was an immigrant from South Africa. He has advanced electric cars and Space exploration. Who knows what Musk would have been able to achieve if he’d not been able to stay in America. Tesla employs 3000 people, SpaceX 1800- mostly good very highly paid. If we’d made the union argument that Mr. Musk would take away the job of a “deserving” America and shipped him back to South Africa we would have ignored the greater good of the many thousands of jobs Elon has created.

Many of you are now thinking: “What about the non skilled illegal immigrants that we have now.” The problem is our welfare state in general not illegal immigrants. Immigrants, legal or not will not come to the United States to work and contribute if there is zero potential of coming here in order to feed on our welfare state. In other words, if we reward work and productivity we will get more of it, if we reward dependency we will get more of that.

Zero Sum thinking focuses on stage one, we admit an engineer from India and he takes the job of an engineer from Ohio. This ignores the full picture, this same engineer might have started a business in Mumbai and done so well that he caused an American company with 10,000 engineers to close. Protectionist ideology doesn’t work, we have a global economy and we can all advance together if we stop thinking zero sum.

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*We keep finding more oil and new ways to get it, it is only zero sum in absolute terms not in the practical.

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Margaret Thatcher

Goodbye to the Iron Lady. She stood up to tyranny, wasn’t afraid to be unpopular in her defense of free markets and was never afraid to lead.

“Thatcher was a politician whose words carried big weight.”

“Our first meeting in 1984 laid ground to the relationship that was at times complex, but always even and on both sides serious and responsible…” “In the end we managed to achieve mutual understanding, and this was a contribution to the changing atmosphere between our country and the West, and to the end of the Cold War…”

Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Premier

“America has lost a true friend…Here in America many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history- we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.”

-President Obama

History will enshrine Margaret Thatcher as a transformational leader who helped defeat communism, promote freedom, and bring hope to the oppressed. Her penetrating words and compelling vision will last for generations.

-Mitt Romney

“What Advocates can learn from Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey”

Most of us know Jackie Robinson, he was the first player to break Major League baseball’s color line in 1947. Few of us remember Branch Rickey, Rickey was the the GM for the Brooklyn Dodgers. As the story goes Rickey was eager to integrate the Dodgers and was considering Robinson.

From Wikipedia:
Rickey was especially interested in making sure his eventual signee could withstand the inevitable racial abuse that would be directed at him. In a famous three-hour exchange on August 28, 1945, Rickey asked Robinson if he could face the racial animus without taking the bait and reacting angrily—a concern given Robinson’s prior arguments with law enforcement officials at PJC and in the military. Robinson was aghast: “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” Rickey replied that he needed a Negro player “with guts enough not to fight back.”After obtaining a commitment from Robinson to “turn the other cheek” to racial antagonism, Rickey agreed to sign him to a contract for $600 a month, equal to $7,651 today.

Robinson lived up to his promise and let his play do the talking. He won a world series, a league MVP and was consistently one of the best players in the league. He excelled at all aspects and is given credit by some for innovating modern base stealing. He did not respond to angry fans and showed tremendous grace under outright hatred and abuse. We would all have forgiven Robinson if he’d lost his temper more often and fought back- the fact that he had the courage not to makes him a transcendent figure.

I think Robinson understood the racial climate of the times, segregation had been a way of life for so long and many saw no reason to change it. Among these people were extremists, truly hateful racists that were never going to be reached; but the bulk of the population were not so extreme and could be moved to change. By seeing athletes like Robinson and Joe Louis achieve excellence and greatness despite tremendous adversity from racial animus it elevated the moral cause for action to stop segregation and racial discrimination. Robinson went on to be a successful executive, the first executive VP of a major American corporation (Chock full o’Nuts), he also founded a bank and worked as a broadcaster.

Robinson knew how and when to fight- refusing to participate in an old timers game in 1969 to protest the lack of minorities in management and front office staffs.

Today it is frequently the advocates who shout the loudest that get the most attention. Part of this is our media saturated society- part of it is fundraising and rallying the base. Do these advocates reach the moderates whose minds they might change? I propose that they do not and only make issues more polarizing.

Gay marriage is one example, most people do not hate or fear gays. Conversely most gays just want to be tolerated and have equal protection under the law. Unfortunately many of the advocates that get the most attention are extremists. Gay groups that demand blanket acceptance and are downright hostile to religious people calling them ignorant or hateful. On the other sides fringe groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church or other hateful bigots get attention. Moderates are unlikely to change their minds and only become stronger in their views when they are called names and made to feel stupid, ignorant or hateful. You cannot fight hate with hate.

My friend- Adam, a gay man wrote a heartfelt letter to his mother explaining his feelings about her and his faiths and why he thought gays should be able to marry. He didn’t name call and he was respectful of her feelings while explaining his own. He gave her space to change her mind without pressure or ultimatums. He could have pointed out hypocrisies in her life or used stronger rhetoric that might have been more satisfying for a man who has faced quite a bit of adversity for his sexuality.

American’s opinions regarding gay marriage have evolved dramatically to the point where a slight majority now favors it in most polls conducted. Twenty years ago many gays were closeted and being gay was misunderstood by many Americans who didn’t even think they knew a homosexual. Over time gays have emerged, most of them seeking only tolerance in their communities. More Americans know and see gay couples and even families with children. They go to the same schools and in some case the same churches and temples. They live on the same streets and have similar lives. Moderates aren’t more accepting of gays because they saw a pride parade with militants french kissing in public or wearing provocative clothing. These kinds of displays only reinforce their position of being reluctant to tolerate legal gay marriage.

I encourage gay marriage advocates to be more like Jackie Robinson. Understand and empathize with the other side talk to them about their feelings and reasoning. Ignore the bigots and their traps. Provide solutions for the other sides problems. I think gay marriage laws would get more support if they all included protections for religious institutions. Take away the argument that churches might be sued for discrimination if they refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies. In our free society private people and groups must be free to discriminate not without social consequences but without force of law. There will be churches and organizations that will embrace same sex marriage and gays can make them even stronger with their patronage and encourage more of them.

Another huge debate in our society is gun control. Traditional we have had gun rights and are losing in some places while gaining in others so it is a different issue than same sex marriage. However the same philosophy applies, advocates like myself for gun rights need to understand the other side and reach out to it. The best thing gun owners can do is practice their right with extreme caution and responsibility. Gun accidents are at an all time low but there are still more than 800 senseless accidental guns deaths a year. As gun owners we must self regulate, there is no reason ever for a negligent discharge. We must be responsible for our guns and control them ourselves keeping them 100% secure 24/7. This is the most powerful argument for keeping the government from taking our rights. Gun owners also need to seek training and keep their skills up, so if they have to use them some day they are ready and effective.

Gun owners can take a cue from the gay community’s openess. Moderate gun owners need to let their neighbors know that they have guns and support the right of self defense. Moderates who don’t own guns need to see that for every stereotypical conspiracy nut with an arsenal there are 100,000 responsible sensible gun owners who take their right and their responsibility very seriously. Every day more than 1 million Americans carry a gun with them. They are next to you on the freeway, at the grocery store, walking down the street. Their guns do not pose any threat to you and in fact enhance your security even though you may choose to be unarmed.

We need to dial back on the rhetoric. I once posted a satirical comment on my facebook page urging the unarmed to post gun free zone signs on their houses. After an hour and one angry comment I deleted the post. While I don’t back down from the point- it was needlessly argumentative and polarizing. Some gun rights advocates have started posting a phrase ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ which means “come and take it” it is what the Spartans are reported to have said to the Persians when asked to surrender. I understand the passion and the righteous anger behind this sentiment. This kind of rhetoric might rally a base but it will turn off moderates closing their minds to our reasoning and evidence.

I have never been one to shy away from debate, I love it and am not afraid of arguments- I don’t take arguments personally and am rarely personally offended. However most people don’t want to argue or debate issues they believe. The develop strong opinions and don’t want to be challenged; they avoid conflict. Nobody wants to be wrong. It is rare that a person changes their mind overnight, it takes years and usually personal experience resonating with logic and information. Those of us who are advocates must remember this and do our best to be a part of this process. We have to learn patience and humility. We need to be more like Jackie Robinson was if we want to be a part of the movement towards the truth we believe in.

First “Do No Harm”

Physicians swear to first do no harm. Doctors must carefully weigh their treatments and interventions into the body to be sure not to do more harm than good. They must weigh the pros and cons, they utilize science to make informed decisions and to guide their patients.

If only government understood this simple idea. We have an activists government, a government that sees problems everywhere and is eager to solve them with laws, regulations, prohibitions and interventions of force. It is of course our own fault, we expect our government to take care of us. Governments have always existed to prevent force from outside their borders and maintain an army and defense. In modern times governments have become expected to do many more things. The government is expected to shepherd the economy to make sure the citizens have jobs that pay the bills. Governments are expected to care for the elderly and provide fairness in all things. Drugs are bad- so government must outlaw them and put those who refuse to obey in jail.

When politicians see a problem they immediately start thinking of how to address it with the force of government. All too often we pass laws thought to address a problem that create more harm than good. No one would argue that the disabled should be discriminated against so we passed a law, the ADA. Then we all moved on feeling good about our great society. But the result of that law was that fewer disabled people got jobs as businesses were afraid of the costs of accommodating them or being sued if they didn’t work out. It didn’t matter if a particular disabled person was happy to work somewhere under the conditions, the government wouldn’t allow it making that person a liability- and taking away that choice. Prostitution is demeaning to women so we prohibit it almost everywhere. But the demand remains and so now women who become prostitutes, some willingly some not, are at the mercy of the lawless streets. The intention is to get rid of the behavior we abhor but the result is worse.Regulation of industry is similar. The process was described in comical fashion by Ronald Reagan: “If it moves tax it, if it continues regulate it, if it stops subsidize it!”

In my debates I am often asked to prove that a particular law or regulation is harmful; shouldn’t the burden be on the government- the only institution with the compulsion of law to prove that it isn’t? Shouldn’t we expect our lawmakers to first do no harm? Shouldn’t they examine all the costs and weigh these against the proposed benefits of what they propose? The problem with laws and rules are that they rarely go away once passed. Year after year they persist despite all the evidence of their failure or high cost to benefit ratio. Whole industries thrive on these laws and protect them with powerful lobbyist and lawyers.

We have an ever growing nanny state, the only difference between Republicans and Democrats in recent years has been the size and scope of the nanny state. Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, a quasi Republican has gone after smoking, salt, and now soda in his city all in the name of protection. He has even tried to control the amount of pain killers doctors prescribe in the cities hospitals. We are more enamored today with safety and comfort than we are freedom. We expect to be protected and we have been all too willing to give up choice and freedom to do it. Let the citizens demand that their government first do no harm.

Oscar Pistorius & Gun Accidents

Virtually everyone by now has heard of the Oscar Pistorius saga. Pistorius is a very popular athlete in South Africa and made headlines at the 2012 Olympic games as the first para Olympian to compete in the regular Olympics. Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentines Day. Police have charged him with premeditated murder- but today he gave a compelling story of how he says he accidentally killed his girlfriend thinking she was an intruder. Police aren’t buying it and I will wait for the evidence before deciding what I think. For the purpose of this article I will assume he is telling the truth:

NYT:

In his affidavit, Mr. Pistorius said that he and Ms. Steenkamp had decided to stay in for the night. He canceled plans with his friends for a night on the town in Johannesburg, while she opted against movies with one of her friends. They had a quiet evening, he said. She did yoga. He watched television. About 10 p.m., they went to sleep.

In the early morning hours, he said, he woke up to move a fan from the balcony and to close the sliding doors in the bedroom.

“I heard a noise in the bathroom and realized that someone was in the bathroom,” he said. “I felt a sense of terror rushing over me.”

He had already said in the affidavit that he feared South Africa’s rampant violent crime, and later added that he was worried because there were no bars on the window to the bathroom. Construction workers had left ladders in his garden, he said.

“I believed someone had entered my house,” he said in the affidavit. “I grabbed my 9-millimeter pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom, and I thought Reeva was in bed.”

Walking on his stumps, he heard the sound of movement inside the toilet, a small room within the bathroom.

“It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder,” he said. “I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable. I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself.”

He fired four shots, then hobbled over to the bedroom, screaming for Reeva to call the police. But when he got back to the bed, she was not there.

“That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet,” he said.



Of course we now know that it was Reeva behind that door and she died tragically. South Africa is a very violent country and home invasions are much more common than in the United States. I understand why Pistorius felt the need to own a gun for protection. I also choose to own a gun and have quick access to it in my home. However, Pistorius made huge errors in judgement that he should pay dearly for. There is zero justification for shooting through a door before identifying a target or threat of any kind. Guns cannot be used solely in fear and absent reason and judgement- when they are horrible things happen. Accidental shootings are very low in the United States and have dropped substantially- even in raw numbers- despite multiplicative population growth.

Absolutely nothing is perfectly safe- having firearms in your home included. We all must chose between trade offs when it comes to safety and make reasonable choices that balance the desire to be safe and the desire for other things. Every time we get in an automobile we make a calculated risk. We balance the desire for mobility with the desire for safety. The same is true for firearms. I strongly believe that trained, cool headed people are safer with guns than without. Chances are good they will never need the weapon but the likelihood that they might need it someday is higher than the chances of accidentally shooting someone. Roughly 800 people accidentally die by guns each year, but guns are used 500,000 to 2 million times in the same period to stop a likely attack.

Properly trained gun owners know that above all else you never pull the trigger without being positive you are willing to destroy what is in front of it- and furthermore can control the gun so that a miss won’t hit someone else. Some gun owners keep loaded firearms under their beds or in a drawer- I understand this but I think it is a mistake. When we are awoken from sleep there is a time period where we are not completely conscious. I personally favor a biometric safe, in order to retrieve my gun I need to have the wherewithal to put my finger on the reader and open the safe. It is possible this delay could someday result in me being to late to defend my family- but I simply cannot assure myself that I will be ready to use that gun if I merely need to reach under the bed for it. Even if I lived alone and without children I would have the same approach. I am balancing the concern of a negligent discharge with the concern of protecting against a real threat. Likewise if I cannot see my target I cannot fire upon it- there have been tragic stories of family members shooting one another after mistaking their loved one for an intruder.

Unfortunately an attacker almost always has the benefit of surprise but  by putting obstacles in the way we make ourselves safer and much less likely to ever use a weapon. I have an alarm system, dogs- several locked doors and other layers of protection, my gun is a last resort.

If Mr. Pistorius is telling the truth- the guilt of being so negligent will be more punishment than whatever the criminal justice system will deliver. Don’t make the same mistake- if you choose to own a gun get yearly training and store it in a quick but secure safe whenever you don’t have it directly on your body- or are asleep.

Moral Clarity

Yesterday my 7 year old son told me a bold face lie. He lied for expedience about a test at school- he didn’t want to study so he said it had already passed. After he was exposed and admitted to the lie, my wife and I tried to explain integrity. I talked about meaning what you say and being honest even when it is tough to do so. My wife and I talked about the importance of trust and gave examples. We all want our kids to be honest with us and do what is right. As a society however we have lost much of our collective integrity and moral clarity.

The recent former LAPD shooter is a good example. Despite killing multiple innocent people not even directly connected to his grievance the shooter has generated significant support from many. Even some very law abiding and decent people have sympathized with his plight and assumed that he was wronged. The shooter, now deceased, has had his firing re-opened by the LAPD. I do not pretend to know if he was wronged or not or what if any was true in his published manifesto- I find it completely irrelevant. Have we gotten so far from moral certainty and discernment that a man can kill four innocent people and be praised by some and partially excused by others? Most of us have been fired unfairly before; many of us- myself included; have had others in the workplace lie about us in order to gain an edge. As your mother probably told you- two wrongs don’t make a right. The second this man decided to take a life he should have lost all credibility- he should have been strongly and unequivocally condemned by all. His manifesto shouldn’t have been published widely in the media- he should have been seen as the criminal lowlife murderer he was. It can be natural to root for an underdog and many have had poor dealings with the LAPD or police in general. When I drove most of the day for work I racked up quite a few trivial or unfair traffic tickets. Most of the officers I dealt with were unhappy and discourteous- I felt I was often treated unfairly. The LAPD has had major corruption scandals and officers have even been convicted of murder- I have no illusions about the LAPD. Most big organizations will have some major flaws. None of this justifies murder- the LAPD shooter may have been wronged- but the second he shot that innocent young couple he earned his violent death. People generally hate unfairness and perhaps that is why so many rallied to his cause- assuming his accusations were true. I think there is something else at play- moral relativism and a lack of clarity.

Moral relativism is a cancer that eats at the moral fabric of our society. We now are encouraged not to judge anyones behavior and we tend to focus on all the excuses instead of the morally deficient behavior of a person. Class and race play a role as well. Stealing from a rich corporation by illegally downloading software or music is deemed ok. Of course the reality is that the rich and powerful are rarely hurt much by these thefts- it is the lowlier workers that suffer as revenues dry up- but this is again irrelevant- theft is wrong either way. Young minority gang members who terrorize their own communities are merely victims of racism and “the system”.

Let’s be clear, no one has the same experience in life- fairness doesn’t exist. Some people have many more breaks than others. Some of us have loving parents and financial security some of us have neither. We do need to try to understand root causes and we do need to try to help the less fortunate- including criminals and especially children who are more reachable. However we also need to make judgements and hold people accountable on a community and societal level. Young men who impregnate women and then run shouldn’t be called “baby daddies” and they shouldn’t be able to walk with their heads high anywhere. They should be condemned by their communities and shamed by society until they take responsibility. Society should forgive people their transgressions but not without conditions and atonement. We need to remove the excuses as well and stop allowing some to absolve themselves of responsibility by always playing the victim. Being a victim can paralyze a person as they blame everything on some external force beyond their own control. Real victims exist but the successful are rarely without adversity; they just learn to rise above it and take responsibility for their lives.

Christianity is the biggest influence to my morality as it is for many others but I have known many men of great integrity and moral clarity who are atheists. My father is deeply religious and has abundant integrity, he is honest to a fault and carefully considers all his decisions. He is very careful never to take advantage of anyone, even when he has been taken advantage of by many. His deep faith allows him to keep things in perspective and he believes he will be richly rewarded some day. On the other side is my favorite teacher, Mr. R. I remember Mr. R. being in tears apologizing to the class for what I thought was a relatively harmless comment he made that embarrassed a student. He cared so deeply that he had hurt this girl that he visibly wept; even though everyone knew he had no malice and was only trying to be funny. I also remember him being deeply hurt when he found out that several students had cheated on a test. Morality need not come from faith or religion- but there is a basic morality that everyone should uphold. It can be relatively easily defined in the golden rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

As a child I remember several occasions where I thought I’d been treated unfairly and told my mother. My mother almost always sided with the adult or authority in question. When she did fight for me she did it without my knowledge or on rare occasions where she knew I was right. My mother reinforced personal responsibility and discipline and now I do that for my son. It is easier to make excuses for our children, to be on their side always- but this is a grave injustice to them. Our children need parents who act as parents not as friends.

We do no service to the immoral when we make excuses for them or try to justify their actions. We owe them accountability most of all. Our young men are especially vulnerable, they need strong and steady leadership- they need to be taught right and wrong. They need limits and boundaries- in the absence of these things they lash out and test the limits of their egos. For some this leads to a violent, criminal life. Let’s not take the easy or politically correct way out let us do our best to be moral leaders in our spheres of influence. Live by example first- but do not be afraid of speaking out and holding others accountable.

Law Enforcement Compared to CCW Permit Holders

Police officers have a difficult and sometimes thankless job. They deal often with the worst among us and have a duty to engage bad people acting out violently. As a regular citizen with a gun- I do not seek out confrontation or criminals. I don’t have to respond to domestic violence calls or protect anyone other than myself and my family. This means I am much less likely to ever need to use my gun than a police officer. In fact even most cops never have to even fire their weapons at another human being.

Having said all of this I do worry that the wrong kind of people are drawn to police work. Some officers have authority complexes and short tempers. Police officers should be cool headed clear thinkers- and many are, but some operate on short triggers and don’t deal with stress very well.

There has been a lot of talk recently about CCW (Concealed Carry Weapons) permit holders and gun crime. Some in the media such as Mother Jones have made the inaccurate claim that CCW holders haven’t ever stopped mass shootings. The also warn about CCW permit holders accidentally will shoot innocent people. I was flabbergasted when some in the media used the story of Joe Zamudio to argue against CCW permit holders. Zamudio helped restrain the Gabby Giffords shooter and was armed that day.

Zamudio: (Interview 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!’ “

Zamudio then realized the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter after a brief struggle and then helped restrain the real shooter. Zamudio made the right call and didn’t pull the trigger.

In fact I have had trouble finding any case of a public shooting where a CCW permit holder shot an innocent person- none. Even the cases where they stopped a shooting such as the principle in Alabama they have only had to brandish the weapon. Maybe a reader can point one out for me, and I fully acknowledge that it could happen. Nothing is perfectly safe and we have to balance public policy for the greater good.

I also recently came upon this story, from the mass shooting in Oregon back in December. Nick Meli, a CCW permit holder saw the shooting going on and had taken cover to assess the situation.

Meli:

“As I was going down to pull, I saw someone in the back of the Charlotte move, and I knew if I fired and missed, I could hit them.”

Meli kept his eyes on the shooter and watched as he ended his own life. Meli, only 22 years old, assessed the situation and made the right call. He was ready for action but showed restraint because he could have made the situation worse by missing his target.

Now lets contrast that with the accidental shooting in Torrance early this week by the LAPD. A ex-cop is targeting LAPD officers and their families and has killed three people so far. The LAPD was on high alert and had stationed officers to protect specific targets identified as high value for the ex-cop. The suspect was known to have a dark grey Nissan Titan and had shot from this truck prior. At least 7 officiers where at the scene and prepared for possible combat. Around 5am a blue Toyota Tacoma entered the neighborhood. It was driven by a 47 and 71 year old daughter and mother delivering newspapers. The suspect is a 270lbs large black man. We do not know all the facts, it has been reported that the lights of the truck were off and that the truck accelerated away after the first shots were fired (which is reasonable of course) and was then fired on again by more officers. The lawyer for the women says that no audible warnings were given before the shooting began. Thankfully despite at least 46 shots one woman was wounded twice in the back and the other wounded from glass.

The LAPD has extensive training and resources like night vision and helicopters, (not reported what these cops had in this case) things the average CCW permit holder does not. In this case they also had the element of surprise and were ready to engage. These cops were on edge and it seems to have caused a major lapse in judgement. In my comfortable “armchair” I would ask why force was necessary before any id was made. Clearly the target was well protected and these ladies were not even close to engaging the actual target but merely in the vicinity. I would also question why it wasn’t obvious that this was a different truck driven by two older women. Clearly the officiers at the very least had flashlights.

I am not ready to convict these officers and I am certain they thought they were engaging the bad guy. More information will come out and the city ( taxpayers) will probably rightfully pay out a few million dollars to these poor women. The officers may lose their jobs.

CCW permit holders do have accidents and also do commit crimes but they are rare and according to some research on par with law enforcement. It is clear that with the power to carry a gun comes tremendous responsibility. It is also clear to me that being a police officer doesn’t necessarily make a person more qualified to carry that responsibility.