Cute animal videos and bubbles

Okay, time for some fun stuff.  NPR’s Planet Money ran a cool little experiment in which you watch 3 videos of incredibly cute baby animals.  You can try it out here.

A slow loris, a polar bear, and a kitten

I loved the slow loris video and thought I wouldn’t be taken in by the kitten, but damn if I wasn’t.   Here they explain what the results mean (can’t really give them away before you watch the videos).

Friendly Fire

Okay, I’ll let this be the last in a spate of gun-related posts for a while.  Conservatives have long-argued that “more guns equals less crime” (as the title of the infamous book based on fraudulent data) in that presumably if everybody out there is packing heat, criminals will be much less likely to go around shooting, robbing, etc., as they never know when they’ll encounter an armed citizen.  Obviously, there’s potentially all sorts of problems with this idea, but Will Saletan in Slate brings up one I hadn’t really thought about too much.  You put guns in the hands of well-meaning, but untrained citizens and really bad things can happen:

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.

When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he’d had, he answered: “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.”…

This is a much more dangerous picture than has generally been reported. Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer’s identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn’t use his gun. That’s how close he came to killing an innocent man. He was, as he acknowledges, “very lucky.”

That’s what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person—a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you’re dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd. It happens even among trained soldiers. Among civilians, the risk is that much greater.

From a simple cost/benefit perspective, the advocates of simply having more armed citizens are ignoring the fact that surely in many cases well-meaning citizens such as Zamudio would in-fact make the wrong split-second decision.  That’s quite a cost.  Imagine the compounded tragedy of Zamudio’s trigger finger had been just a bit more itchy.



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