McArdle Wins Worst Newtown Reaction Award

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Photo: Riccardo S. Savi/WireImages

In what can only be seen as a malicious plot by Newsweek’s editors [Update: this is a long blog post, not a magazine piece] to ensure Megan McArdle’s reputation does not outlive Newsweek, the Daily Beast has published a 4,000 word essay by its new hire on how to stop massacres like last Friday’s. McArdle begins her essay with a prescient harbinger (“There just aren't good words to talk about Newtown.”) but recovers to churn out a fairly standard libertarian argument about why various government remedies won’t work. And it's true, to some extent, that various regulatory solutions all have complications.

The problem comes at the end when, having dismissed the standard liberal regulatory measures as unworkable, she has to propose her own solution. This is what McArdle comes up with:

I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. 

Are you kidding me? You think gun control is impractical, so your plan is to turn the entire national population, including young children, into a standby suicide squad? Through private initiative, of course. It’s way more feasible than gun control!

McArdle does allow that such behavior runs contrary to instinct. Well, yes. Teaching even fairly aggressive young boys who are learning football to avoid their self-preservation instinct and crash into their opponent full speed rather than shying away from contact usually takes rigorous, lengthy training. This is when they’re wearing a helmet and full-body padding and going up against a kid their age. Trying to get them to fling their bodies into danger in a situation where they’re in shock, have no protection, and are facing an adult with a gun rather than a kid with a football is beyond impossible.

Unless I am missing a very subtle parody of libertarianism, McArdle’s plan to teach children to launch banzai charges against mass murderers is the single worst solution to any problem I have ever seen offered in a major publication. Newsweek, I award this essay no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.