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Man dies of a heart attack after minors swatted him over his rare Twitter handle (techspot.com)
529 points by miles 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 580 comments

If you ever used Fidonet or BBS mail, this was Mark “Sparky” Herring, who developed the .QWK file format, that tragically died.


Please see this heartbreaking Twitter thread from Jason Scott on Sparky Herring and QWK


Thats tragic! :( I never met with that guy but I spent some time making an QWK program for RISC-OS (Archimedes). RIP Mark!

OMG - I loved .QWK and the universe around it. Indeed I often lament the wish that web forums would support something like QWK so I could use a reader/editor of my choice - web forums suck. What a senseless tragedy :(

I'm surprised this isn't higher up.

Maybe police should default to assume swatting and develop techniques to evaluate actual risk prior to storming in based on an anonymous phone call? It would be nice to know the stats on false alarms vs actual threats in SWAT deployments. Having a prior would help a Bayesian analysis.

> Maybe police should default to assume swatting and develop techniques to evaluate actual risk prior to storming in based on an anonymous phone call?

The article doesn’t say a SWAT team was deployed, just that the police responded to a call. The image of a SWAT team is just a stock photo.

The police also did not “storm” anything. The homeowner went outside with a gun in hand and they de-escalated the situation without “storming” or firing any shots.

I don’t really understand what you want the police to do in these situations where they receive calls about gun crimes in progress. They can’t just assume it’s a prank and wait around to see if anyone dies before they choose to send some police to investigate.

>The police also did not “storm” anything. The homeowner went outside with a gun in hand and they de-escalated the situation without “storming” or firing any shots.

In this case perhaps, but the parents' comment wasn't particular to this instance but generic.

And there are tons of cases where SWATing actually happened, unecessary force was deployed, and so on, sometimes even captured on camera...

>I don’t really understand what you want the police to do in these situations where they receive calls about gun crimes in progress.

The same procedure that is followed in civilized countries would be a good start.

> The same procedure that is followed in civilized countries would be a good start.

Bad accidents happen in Europe, too. Mostly it's because of bad int and armed forces breaking in to innocent people's homes, with children having trauma for life. Sometimes they don't even apologize.

EDIT: Sometimes it's not even by mistake but on purpose. In 2014 after islamist extremists killed journalists over publications of images offending them, some young people expressed their approval for the killing, including a 10-year old girl. Armed police stormed her apartment in the morning while she was sleeping and detained her for 11 hours:



What we do in the civilized world is we don't allow everyone to have assault rifles at home.

Meh. Almost no Americans own assault rifles. The VAST majority of weapons described as "assault rifles" in the media are nothing of the sort. An AR-15 is a civilian weapon that is just a semi-automatic hunting rifle that looks scary to people who are ignorant with regards to firearms and have been brainwashed by the propaganda from the anti-gun groups.

While it is true that you can own an actual assault rifle (defined as a rifle with full-automatic or select-fire capability), it requires a ton of paperwork, a lot of money, and you can't buy any weapon manufactured after 1986 (this was the so-called "Volkmer/McClure Act"). And as best as I can remember, per FBI stats, no legally owned weapon of this type has ever been used in the commission of a violent crime. Or if one has, the number was so small that it rounds to zero.

>An AR-15 is a civilian weapon

You, see, that's a culture problem right there...

A "civilian weapon" should be something more like their fists, or a stick they've picked...

An AR-15 would be very near the end of things to call "a civilian weapon" in a civilized country.

> A "civilian weapon" should be something more like their fists, or a stick they've picked...


> An AR-15 would be very near the end of things to call "a civilian weapon" in a civilized country.


Every AR-15 I've ever seen was either a .22 pistol or a 9mm pistol in army rifle drag.

Likely people have a mental association between ARs and crime not because of frequency but severity[1].

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15_style_rifle#Use_in_crime...

The media also has a large role to play in this.

Depends on how you define "violent". There was *one*--a guy used a machine gun to shoot up the *car* belonging to someone he was mad at (I forget the exact situation.) The car was parked and empty at the time, nobody was in danger beyond the inherent danger of firing without an adequate backstop.

Also, it should be noted that all such acts are in violation of the 2A (because the latter says nothing about hunting, sporting, or even self-defense).

> Also, it should be noted that all such acts are in violation of the 2A

Wait, are you saying that hunting/sporting/self-defense are in violation of the second amendment, or am I misunderstanding? Because that's certainly untrue.

There's a difference between certain rights not being enumerated in the Constitution and those rights violating the Constitution.

I misread at first, too, but I believe they mean that gun control laws, particularly ones that cite hunting/sporting/self-defense, are in violation of the 2A.

Ah, that makes way more sense, thanks!

Add "legally" to everything you said. Illegal? Its not so hard.

Dismissing the AR-15 and it's like as a "semi-automatic hunting rifle" is propaganda. The AR-15 type rifles are modeled very accurately towards what is issued to US servicemen and women. These are primarily targeted for hunting, but hunting a different animal than you're contending...

"Modeled after" - yes. But they are not functionally equivalent to the weapons issued to servicemen and women. They are in every sense that matters, functionally equivalent to any generic semi-automatic hunting rifle.

In fact, one could say that many of these media-demonized "assault rifles" are less "powerful" than common hunting rifles, as from a pure ballistic energy standpoint, many common hunting cartridges exceed the power of .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO rounds.

As the owner of a Mini-14--which fires .223 rounds--I think this comment is disingenuous. There are certainly rifles that fire more powerful rounds. But they are typically heavier, more unwieldy, and are bolt action and thus have a lower rate of fire.

Even a stock "hunting rifle"-type Mini-14 can shoot 10+ high powered rounds accurately in a very short length of time. With a pistol grip, an amateur could easily shoot and kill a bunch of people with one, essentially combining the ease of use of a pistol with the power of a long gun.

Common sense dictates that a AR-type rifle with a pistol grip and large capacity magazine is far more deadly for killing people than a technically more powerful .308 rifle.

> ease of use of a pistol with the power of a long gun

Tell me you have near zero experience with pistols or long guns without actually saying it. XD

> common sense

No. You’re inconsistent in your comparison: they make AR pattern rifles in .308. A .308 is more destructive than a .223. The military adopted .223/5.56 for logistic reasons, and you’ll find plenty of debate in the military about the inadequacy of the .223 round both in terms of effective range and penetration. This balancing act is a debate in the military going back ages. I can show you Ordnance Dept. memoranda from over a hundred years ago where this exact balancing act was being debated.

People like the AR pattern (in any caliber) because it’s highly customizable, made of modern durable materials, and is easy to maintain. That the military adopted the pattern for the same reasons shouldn’t come as a surprise. A good design sells itself.

Today, if you want a semi-auto .223 you’d be nuts to buy a mini-14 instead of an AR unless you’re into the mini for aesthetic or collector sentiments (which are valid reasons). But with the mini you’re getting a rifle you’d need to put a lot of custom work into to free float the barrel, you’d always be worried about protecting that wood stock and metal finish, and you’d find limited (by comparison) after-market mods. Also, you’d lose so many options for caliber interchangeability that you get with an AR. Hell, they even make a crossbow upper for the AR. Try turning your mini into a crossbow. :D the AR pattern is the most popular rifle for very good reasons and not because it’s somehow “more deadly” than another semi-auto of the same caliber.

> Tell me you have near zero experience with pistols or long guns without actually saying it. XD

This is a childish comment I would expect in a Reddit thread. I've gone to the range a number of times with my firearm, and more importantly, I've taken friends who've never shot anything before. Shooting a stock Mini-14 is incredibly easy for even a first timer. But, for a first timer, it still requires sitting and resting the barrel on something to get decent control.

A pistol grip makes it much easier to accurately shoot multiple rounds from a semi-automatic, especially free standing. That's been my experience and the experience of those I've brought to the range with me.

And that's where you have completely missed the point. This thread isn't about which gun can beat up which in a fight. It's about whether semi-automatics like the AR-15 enable novices to easily kill large numbers of civilians. The answer is obviously yes.

> A pistol grip makes it much easier to accurately shoot multiple rounds from a semi-automatic

In the military they require you fire from the hip a long gun and hit your target multiple times within a time limit before qualifying. There was no pistol grip.

We're not talking about soldiers with military training here. We're talking about untrained criminals, or people with mental illness, being able to easily shoot and kill a large number of civilians. (i.e. people without body armor, etc.)

Despite the fact that Republicans make fun of the arbitrary nature of what constitutes an "assault rifle"--semi-automatic fire, large capacity removable magazines, pistol grips, etc.--those qualities do make it easier for untrained people to quickly kill a bunch of people.

if they make it easier for untrained people to kill, then how come the military doesn’t use them when training? How come you can still find service weapons without pistol grips? The argument is that pistol grips don’t in fact make it easier it makes it more accurate. We don’t want less accurate, this argument wanting less accuracy was already tried in court and failed muster.

Also if you read the regulations why does it state where the location of the webbing of the thumb need to be if the important part is no pistol grip? In reality they are trying to ban AR pattern rifles, not weapons with pistol grips.

Everything else you mentioned makes the gun easier to operate for both criminals and law abiding citizens. Why do the minority get to ruin things for the exhaustively overwhelming majority when these rifles with these characteristics aren't even the problem?

Your statements just illustrate an off-hand lack of exposure/knowledge is all.

The mini-14 is patterned off of an actual full-auto military service rifle (with no pistol grip, fwiw), the M14, to sell to the civilian market. This is different than the AR, which was sold to civilians years before the military adopted a similarly patterned service rifle. So if we're talking about the evils of modeling rifles after full-auto military versions, your mini-14 is carrying more moral baggage than the AR. I think the M14 is still in service or was until very recently in the ME, again as a select fire weapon with no pistol grip.

So for small arms, I think the pistol grip matters far less than you're portraying it to in your comments. While valuable for control in a crew-served full auto, it really has two more "pedestrian" advantages in an individual rifle. It allows the receiver to transfer force in a more direct line to the shooter's shoulder and avoid/minimize the structurally weak point of the "dip" in the traditional stock's neck between the receiver and the butt. This makes the rifle far more durable and not coincidentally, cheaper to fashion. It also minimizes physical contact with the rifle along the bore axis which is valuable for aimed shots. You can basically fire the rifle with only the finger on the trigger and a little bit of thumb if that, with no danger of exerting downward or lateral pressure on the stock. Precision rifles in .300 WIN MAG, 338L and higher also use a pistol grip and it's not there because it helps them "spray and pray".

Does it help someone with a semi-auto rifle have more control than not when firing rapidly at moving targets (whether civilians, military people, or ducks)? I don't think someone who's trying to rapid fire with a semi-auto is going to notice one way or another, honestly. Guns designed specifically for off-the-cuff instinctive shooting of multiple moving targets in succession notably have never adopted the pistol grip (think field, double trap, and skeet shotguns).

You move from talking about the advantage of the pistol grip to just asking if semi-autos broadly "enable novices to easily kill large numbers of civilians". Not sure why it matters whether the targets are civilians or not for this purely functional question aside from the obvious appeal to emotion. Semi-autos do allow more rapid fire than other breech or muzzle loader designs, though I've seen people fire lever actions faster than you or I could fire a semi-auto but they definitely aren't novices. Kind of comes back to the question, though - if all semi-autos do this, why single out the AR patterned rifle? You brought up the comparison to the mini-14 suggesting there was something about the AR that enabled novices that wasn't present in your mini. I'm just telling you that that's not the case. To say the pistol grip matters all that much on either of these rifles is a hard speculative argument to make convincingly.

> Not sure why it matters whether the targets are civilians or not

It matters because civilians don't wear body armor. The .223 round has low enough recoil to be easy to control (vs .308, for example) while powerful enough to grievously harm or kill someone (quick Googling shows it has 2-3x more energy than a 9mm).

> I've seen people fire lever actions faster than you or I could fire a semi-auto

Rate of fire is only part of it. There's also the number of rounds the weapon can carry and how quickly you can reload. You're clearly more of an expert than I am, so I'll ask sincerely: Are there any lever action rifles that carry 20 or 30 rounds at a time? How does the time to reload compare to reloading a magazine?

If someone with a lot of professional training wanted to kill a bunch of people, they could probably do it with just about any firearm. And you can still have a mass shooting with "just" a 9mm pistol, as happened at UVA in 2017, where 32 people were killed and 17 more were injured.

But if a random criminal or nutjob wanted to do it, they'd be best served with an AR-type weapon with a few large capacity magazines. That's been the choice for the gunman in the Sandy Hook school shooting (27 killed, 2 injured), the Stoneman Douglas school shooting (17 killed, 17 injured), the Sutherland Springs church shooting (27 killed, 22 injured), etc.


Yup--doing things the way the military does them doesn't make you someone interested in killing. The military goes to a *lot* of effort to design things to do the job well, you can be pretty sure any bit of equipment the military uses will be good at it's job. It may be overengineered for civilian use (for example, the infamous toilet seats. Civilians don't care if their toilets throw splinters or make toxic smoke when they take battle damage, bu if it's going on a combat aircraft the military does care), but it won't be bad at it's job.

But they are typically heavier, more unwieldy, and are bolt action and thus have a lower rate of fire.

It's a continuum though. Go up in ballistic power from .223 only a little bit and you still find plenty of lightweight semi-auto rifles. And you can certainly find semi-autos all the way to at least 7mm Remington Mangum.

With a pistol grip, an amateur could easily shoot and kill a bunch of people with one,

Personally I have a lot of doubt about how much difference a pistol grip actually makes, but I could be convinced if anybody has researched that and has some evidence.

with a pistol grip and large capacity magazine is far more deadly for killing

A skilled operator can change magazines so quickly that I feel like magazine capacity is almost a moot point. To me the real distinction is binary "has a detachable magazine" or "does not have a detachable magazine."

Of course, I suppose in the context of how much damage an unskilled operator can do, then yes, a larger magazine is more "deadly" in a sense. But large magazines are not specific to the AR series. Even if the original manufacturer doesn't provide them, there's little reason in principle that someone else can't manufacture a higher capacity magazine for any rifle that uses detachable magazines.

> mag cap is moot

The kid in CT that murdered his own mother, stole her guns and killed all the students was dropping half-full mags and reloading. IIRC, law enforcement interpreted this behavior as mirroring his FPS “training”. That would seem to indicate capacity didn’t matter as much as simply having a detachable mag. The guy that shot up that Batman theater in CO or wherever brought in a 50 or 100 rnd drum mag (IIRC) and had it jam on him (as they do).

Exactly. We have a total of two mass shootings where magazine capacity had *any* relevance. One guy got jumped while "reloading"--but since his second magazine was damaged and wouldn't feed that's not really of much relevance--from a practical standpoint he was out of ammo. If he had smaller mags that might actually have increased the death toll because a dinged mag would have removed less of his ammo.

The second is the Las Vegas case--and in that case he had a ton of guns, mostly he was switching guns rather than reloading.

Detachable or not is the only meaningful distinction.

Well, other than having selective fire modes, they're functionally identical. And considering their rate of fire, and that full-auto is discouraged in most militaries, yes, I consider them equivalent.

And "generic semi-automatic hunting rifle" has become the AR-15. It used to be a bolt action, or maybe an Mini-14. But the whole benefit (and the social drawback) of widespread ownership of AR-15s is the high rate of fire, and the magazine capacity.

Comparing it to a bolt-action .308 isn't the point.

It’s a question of function which can be objectively determined. Guns are a very old technology and whilst elegant, are mechanically quite simple. An AR-15 pattern action is a semi-auto. One trigger pull, one round fired. Functionally identical to any other semi auto rifle. AR-patterned rifles are absolutely used for hunting a wide variety of game.

That it’s largely made of aluminum and composites means it’s lighter than steel and wood, and also more weather resistant. People like modern materials for good reason.

The AR design (itself over 60 yrs old) is so popular because it is highly modular (customizable) and can be accurized to a high degree. And it should be pointed out that the military rejected the pattern design before adopting it.

So what is this “modeled after” quality you’re talking about? Firearm action designs are all quite old, and have been used by both the military and civilians since firearms were a thing. There was a time in the late 19th century when firearms designs in the hands of civilians outclassed (in rate of fire) the service weapons of the US Army. Gas systems on weapons are quite old, back to the 19th century again. What you probably think of as the stereotypical “hunting rifle” would fit the same profile as a military sniper rifle in service today (e.g. Remington model 700). Are hunting rifles “modeled after” sniper rifles? Or the other way around? It really is an artificial debate.

The hypocrisy (committed for purely political reasons, no doubt) is that in some of the states the semi-auto AR-15 and AK-47 have been banned while, say, Mini-14, Tavor, and SKS, which have exactly the same capabilities, have not - a decision made simply based on the "looks."

I don't think it's hypocrisy so much as ignorance. Most people recognize an AR-15 and Kalashnikov. But few now the origins of the Mini-14 nor the other weapons you've described.

> What we do in the civilized world is we don't allow everyone to have assault rifles at home.

It's not so uncommon to have a assault rifle from the military or other guns at home in Switzerland and their numbers are way lower than in the US [0]. It's not about having guns, it's about proper training and not giving weapons to psychologically unstable people.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-r...

Swiss military arms can be kept at home if they get a permit, but:

* They are not allowed to possess ammunition unless in special militias. Any ammunition bought or issued at ranges cannot be taken off premises.

* Purchasing ammunition for permitted private arms requires the same checks as buying the weapons, including permits, ID and a recent criminal record check.

* There are strict controls around storing and transporting weapons.

* There is no right to concealed carry.

* There are no stand your ground laws.

I'm very happy when Americans cite Switzerland in terms that equate it to the US because that implies a regulatory system like that in Switzerland would be appropriate to the US. That's a great idea.

You are totally allowed to store ammo at your house.

The ones that you get when you go do your mandatory shooting rehearsal have to be completly expanded but you can just buy a case and bring it back home.

With some friends we were going to the shooting range quite a lot and bought like 1000 rounds and stored them at one of my friend's place to take advantage of a bulk discount.

I was talking specifically about the issued military arms and ammunition in that comment, which is what the comment I responded to was about. I made a separate comment later about privately owned arms and ammunition but I could have been a lot clearer. Botched in the edit.

Hi, Switzerland here. I wish US americans would stop citing Switzerland as example for assault weapons allowed in Europe. It's one thing being allowed to keep the rifle at home, and an entire other thing being allowed to actually use it. The only reason Swiss are allowed the rifle at home is to be able to intervene quickly in case of war. And it comes with a lot of hooks so definitely no, police will not expect you being armed - not at home and even less on the streets.

Yes, you are right, the military rifle is only for the case of war or the mandatory military training. It's also wrong to believe that there is a military grade gun in every Swiss household, most people leave their rifle at the military or in one central weapons depot run by the state. I'm not sure, but aren't you allowed to shoot it at a gun range? (as Sportschütze) A friend from Zürich was talking about this topic, but my memories about this conversation are a little blurry.

From what I've heard it's way easier to get a gun permit in Switzerland than here in Germany and the Swiss are allowed to have guns you can't even dream of here (I'm talking about stuff like the semi auto H&K MP5, AR-15/AK derivates, etc.).

I lived near Zurich in the early 90s (Canadian) and would often see people headed off to military service on the normal, commuter trains with an assault rifle as part of their kit. I assumed everyone just took them home with them when their regular service was done and took them back when they revisited it next year. Most of my colleagues that did military service would go for a couple of weeks a year and loved it (you serve with people from the area you grew up in, I think, and they looked forward to seeing their buddies again, drinking some beer, etc.).

War with whom? IIRC Switzerland are traditionally neutral. Serious question.

> … was especially furious when he saw that German equipment was used to shoot down German pilots. He said they would respond "in another manner".[17] On 20 June 1940 …


It could be some neighboring state gets ideas... last time it happened was not even that far back.

It's a lot easier for the "other guys" to justify not occupying a country that's equipped to put up a good insurrection.

Counterpoint: Afghanistan.

It's become a rite of passage for empires to try and fail there. Next up, China?

anybody who tries to invade. the swiss aren't neutral to invasions of the homeland.

zee germans

Downvotes? Really? I was asking seriously, I do not know the swiss culture and I wanted to know the answer. Silly me for wanting to learn something.

Yes, but as a Swiss civilian you're allowed to own a great number of semi-automatic rifles, handguns, and standard capacity (20, 30, or more rounds) magazines as a private citizen, provided that you go through a licensing processes which isn't very tedious or expensive. The whole "Swiss men all have their service weapon in the house" thing is conflation/misunderstanding/ignorance, but in many ways Swiss firearms law is not terribly different from US firearms law in terms of what you're allowed to own and in some cases it's even less restrictive (CH doesn't care about barrel length on shoulder-fired weapons, for example). They key different is the existence of a license system.

The main thing that sets the US apart from other countries is not that civilians can own AR15s or similar weapons, it's that US law for the most part gives any adult the legal right to purchase and own firearms by default, provided that they can pass a background check. The United States and Yemen are basically the only countries that use this system. Basically every other country has some sort of tiered licensing system for firearms ownership, with varying levels of strictness. And as it happens, Switzerland is pretty unrestrictive in this regard. The Swiss "Firearms acquisition permit" looks essentially equivalent to the United State's "Form 4473" which is required for the majority of firearms transactions.


To clarify, are Swiss citizens allowed to use the assault rifles they keep at home to defend themselves or their property against criminals?

Not a lawyer, but as far as I remember in Swiss law a criminals live is valued higher than your property. There would have to be an immediate threat for someones live for it to be even considered justified self defense. E.g. in a armed robbery you are expected to hand over the valuables they ask for before defending yourself with force.

Edit: assuming we are talking about shooting the criminal not just use the weapon as a deterrent. No idea what happens in that case, but I reckon either or both civil and military justice are going to have a word with you.

To clarify a bit. By law, a human life is the "good" of highest value above everything else. Just committing a crime does not exempt you from that principle. Wether self defense was justified is judged by whether the level of force used was an appropriate reaction to the threat at hand. So not sure whether using a military weapon (assuming not going full automatic) vs. private actually matters at all, or if that would just be a separate violation.

It's a separate violation because you'd be breaking then also the military laws and regulations (see other comments why)

The problem with this is that you are trusting that the robber is only going to rob. Unfortunately, all too many shoot their victims anyway because the take wasn't as much as they expected or other reasons.

Calm, reasonable robber--of course you hand it over. Crazy methhead, if he makes a mistake and gives you an opportunity you very well might be better off taking it. America doesn't try to judge the situation in advance.

I don't disagree when looking at it in isolation. But my comment was specifically to Switzerland which has according to the department of statistics around 30 cases of robbery per year which basically never lead to physical harm. It is just not something you worry about in your day to day live.

Drug addicts usually want to be left alone and won't bother you. Exception being people chuck full of cocaine and alcohol in and arounds nightclubs frustrated about not getting layed.

The problem is being tackled the other way around by trying to keep poverty, inequality and thus acts of desperation low.

From an ealier comment:

> They are not allowed to possess ammunition unless in special militias. Any ammunition bought or issued at ranges cannot be taken off premises.

So potentially yes, but only if you mean using the gun as a club.

The earlier comment is conflating general Swiss firearms ownership with the service-weapon take home system in use with Swiss military conscripts.

Swiss gun owners are allowed to buy, own, and use ammunition. They may also use a privately-owned firearm in self-defense situationally, but the legal justification for use of deadly force in Switzerland will obviously be more stringent than it would be in the United States.




So there is a big difference to gun ownership in the US (and elsewhere).

It also varies dramatically between US states. If you shot a burglar in your house with an AR-15 in Florida the local DA might give you a medal. In New Jersey they would arrest you just for having the AR-15, and then likely charge you with murder.

(I'm not commenting on the morality of either state's laws; just pointing out that US states differ widely on gun laws.)

[Edit: I originally said California instead of New Jersey. NJ's laws are stricter but it appears that the vast majority of states allow much leeway when in your own home, so I might even be wrong about NJ.



FWIW, even before the advent of the recent wave of "stand your ground" laws, there was an older legal principle, that was very widely held, called "castle doctrine"[1] which comes into play in terms of killing a home intruder. The details still vary from state to state, but AIUI, many locales hold to a form of castle doctrine such that if you kill an invader who is actually in your home, you would be unlikely to be charged with murder.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine

That would prove very handy against vampires. Could they resist an invite to your home?

> It's not about having guns, it's about proper training and not giving weapons to psychologically unstable people.

This, so much.

In Switzerland there is a culture of responsibility about shooting rifles and guns. If you are gun aficionado, you are a member of the local "Schutzenverein" (Markmen's club). If you're not, people will get very suspicious. For the most part, these Schutzenvereins take care that their members are properly trained. And even though there are very young markmen (and markwoman), as young as 12 years old - they are introduced to a long and continued tradition of gun handling; they are taught that guns are weapons and not toys.

And by the way; every little village has it's own Schutzenverein.

I wish something like this existed in the USA.

Boy Scouts, 4-H, Lion's Club, and other shooting clubs are out there and very active. I shot in all three organizations competitively as well as the local smallbore club. There were and are Postal Matches as well, where they send you a target and you mail it back in after having shot it (there is a degree of honor system going on there, which I never saw abused).

Many towns in the US have their versions of Schuetzenvereins. Where I am in California (!), several surrounding towns have their own clubs with ranges, as well as one facility that is essential county-wide. The latter range has hosted national championships in a variety of shooting sports. My cousins took hunter safety classes at a public high school in Louisiana. The local public high school has an indoor range, but sadly it's just used for storage, now.

These things exist and are used in large numbers, but the press is actively uninterested in them because they near-universally lack blood or excitement. Just people safely enjoying shooting sports, preparing for hunting, or putting holes in paper for fun.

it did for me- it was called the boy scouts. We learned to maintain and shoot 22s (I was 12 at the time). Everybody in my family who has guns is responsible about them.

There is a whole responsible gun culture in the US which is overshadowed by a smaller number of extremely irresponsible people.

I'm of mixed opinions on this. I really believe we have a culture problem in the US of glorifying criminality and an eroding of the social (not govt) institutions that worked as "glue" for setting expectations of appropriate, socialized behavior.

BUT.. I also think these informal social systems can behave as classist and other discriminatory mechanisms. In the US, gun control is particularly tainted with its racist past in post (Civil) war years.

I think of Switzerland as an incredibly expensive place to live, a land of the haves and have-nots. My perception is that part of the luxury they enjoy by being a comparatively stable and peaceful society is a product of them being relatively small, culturally close-knit, having a "my-way-or-the-highway (to Italy)" kind of attitude. Great stuff, but I think it probably also comes at a cost that would be hard to endure if you weren't somebody who "fit in".

I could be very wrong about evaluating the risks vs. rewards. To be honest, almost all the gun enthusiasts in the US I know belong to some sort of organization, either members of a shooting club/range, organization, etc. We tend to regard those who aren't as merely being "leechers" off the contributions we make to the community, facilities, and political action, but not suspiciously as criminals. If I'm honest, my suspicion of you as a gun owner is raised by your behavior in gun handling (recklessness) and your demeanor [appearance + behavior + language + (dis)respectfulness to others (if all mimic criminal stereotypes)]. This is a form of discrimination that also has classist and racist risks but is a bit less institutionalized perhaps than gates to formal club membership.

It's silly to me that gun control groups in the US have tried to rebrand themselves as gun safety organizations, when they neither advocate or support any gun safety training in the US. They are the equivalent of a an "abstinence-only" sex educator living in Gomorrah.

I was taught actual gun safety at a young age, the responsibility inherent in handling and owning firearms, and the self discipline necessary to use them effectively. I am biased by the tangible and intangible rewards I've gained from that, so tend to think others could benefit from it as well.

Yeah, but these guns are registered too, so police will know what they have to expect.

On the off chance that that is pointed at US Americans: assault rifles are pretty rare, and are strictly controlled and registered in the US. Depending how much of the group "machine gun" you also describe as "assault rifle", they get even rarer, especially considering that any automatic weapons made since 1986 are outright illegal for all but police.

>but I do believe it's better than rolling in with tanks on innocent people's homes!

I don't think you realize the irony of bringing tanks into the discussion. When you say tanks and gun control in the same sentence here's what most Americans think of.






(NSFL) https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2F...

And that's probably not something you want to bring up if you're in favor of gun control.

That is neither here nor there. Assault rifles did not lead to this man’s death. They have nothing essentially to do with what transpired. The problem is that someone filed a false report. That’s where you need to focus. Filing false reports is what should be severely punished.

I understand this works elsewhere, but unfortunately in America we have a long history with firearms. Growing up in a rural area it’s normal, times have changed, AR are seen as normal in places where it was a shotgun or a ruger in the past.

Point is most discussions related to strict control on these rifles to me is mostly pointless, the genie is out the bottle if talking about curbing assault rifles they have been flooding the streets for over a decade at this point.

Me personally I also believe these things make America America, problems and all. It may seem like a weird worldview to some, but some love the fact America has this wild edge to it, it’s not perfect but if you’re living right and being responsible it mostly works out fine. We have old people like everyone else. Making our country work like other counties isn’t as common as looking at what other states are doing in my experience. And states have their own micro cultures that are more or less permissive of this stuff, again that’s what many love about the US

> but some love the fact America has this wild edge to it, it’s not perfect but if you’re living right and being responsible it mostly works out fine

There’s nothing quirky, loveable or wild about school massacres and an aggressive, poorly trained but hyper-militarised police force.

Your “oh shucks, we can’t help it because… well that’s just who we are!” message exacerbates the false notion that positive, widespread societal change isn’t impossible. Which benefits certain people, not least of all gun manufacturers flooding the country with high-powered weaponry.

I don't see people dying to get out of America. But there are plenty dying to get in, so perhaps there's something America has that outweighs whatever you think is going on.

By the way, you probably think far more people are killed by "assault rifles" than really are, judging by your hyperbole. In 2019[1], there were...364. By contrast, there were 328 million people in the US in 2019[2]. That means 0.000001% of the population, which, while tragic, is statistically insignificant.

[1] https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-...

[2] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2019/popest-n...

(bonus: breakdown of murders by state and by weapon: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-...)

Guns are too prolific and necessary. They prevent thousands of crimes every day. In addition to defense, we also use them as pest control for hogs and dear and other things and we are currently not killing enough boars, it's a growing problem, but I digress.

Due to enforcement issues any outright ban will just prevent law abiding citizens from defending themselves. There are certain cities that have failed in the last 10 years resulting in police response times over an hour. In the case of Detroit violence was consistently rising during that time until several perps were shot committing a crime and it was highly televised and then violence receded.

Guns empower women to defend themselves against people who could otherwise physically dominate them, as well as other minority groups who may face violence in their neighborhood. There are lots of countries with armed civilians that don't have school shootings.

There has also yet to be a reasonable technical classification that can identify a so called "assault" rifle from other rifle platforms.

Government tyranny is also real and legitimate threat to the population. Especially today with an ever invasive fed surveillance program, secret courts, and countries that are bypassing the bill of rights by offloading the violations to its allies. Oh and they are still discussing the legality of which and will seem to be in a perpetual legal battle over it. Many people argue you can't fight tanks/drones ect.. with guns but history Hong Kong is an excellent example and they aren't even armed, imagine if they were. They are willing to die for the cause and they would have the opportunity to escalate it to violence. The regime would have likely had to back down.

School shootings are about mental health and bullying and the relationships they have with adults around them. It's easy to make a bomb. If people want to inflict mass violence they will, we need to fix the root issues.

>There’s nothing quirky, loveable or wild about school massacres and an aggressive, poorly trained but hyper-militarised police force.

Neither of which has anything to do with the second Amendment, and ready, free access to firearms. The school shootings have much more to do with our criminally underfunded education system, and so overfunded law enforcement with terrible perverse incentives, warrior instead of Guardian ethos, and the complete dissolution of all semblance of high-trust culture through incubated multi-decade corruption.

Solve the right problems first. When teachers can't even count on specialists to help with the hard cases in schools, and social workers are stretched as thin as they are, that's what sews the field with the seeds of desperation or anger driven slaughter.

And don't think it'd not happen without the firearms. Once you go over the edge, you find a way.

> There’s nothing quirky, loveable or wild about school massacres

This is the result of the negative consequences of a given freedom, and you could say similar things for any given right. This isn't isolated to just the Second Amendment, though, it's true of all rights.

First Amendment: "There's nothing quirky, loveable, or wild about hate speech or anti-Semitism".

Third Amendment: "There's nothing quirky, loveable, or wild about keeping the National Guard from being able to quickly and efficiently respond to medical emergencies in areas far from bases."

Fourth Amendment: "There's nothing quirky, loveable, or wild about letting murderers go free just because of bureaucracy"

I imagine most people would agree with the above statements. I imagine most people would also agree that these rights are all super valuable and provide lots of utility. The "Wild West" aspect of America that most people find appealing, though, is the view that America tends to weight the individual rights side of the balance really heavily (with the tacit acknowledgement that the negative side of things is also bound to be bigger as well).

> and an aggressive, poorly trained but hyper-militarised police force.

No contest here, such police forces are a problem and I think lots of second-amendment advocates would agree.

Almost no individual owns an assault rifle in the US. It is nearly impossible to do so legally.

yes, extremely expensive also: https://dealernfa.com/product-category/machine-guns/all-tran...

kalashnikov for $30k, as example. registered lower for m16 cost $20k at least.

> it's basically only organised crime gangs that have weapons other than hunting rifles

Do you really believe this? Any evidence?

Here’s some to the counter, your average anti gun dem buying an AR-15: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/interactive/2021/anti-...

Do you also understand your average hunting rifle is a lot more powerful than these supposed other weapons? Here’s .223 on left and 30-06 (aka “hunting rifle”) on right: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2a-YzMNCllQ/UPd-W05xMaI/AAAAAAAAAW...

What exactly is that universal "same procedure" that "civilized countries" (please leave such flamebait out btw) follow?

The primary reason this wouldn't happen like this in most other countries is that it's unlikely that the home owner would turn up with a gun - if they did, police would be pointing theirs too. Really the main missed opportunity here seems to be the call of the neighbor, which could have been used to coordinate, but overall it sounds like the one swatting death which really was a dumb accident.

(1) Regular police (as opposed to SWAT or SWAT-like equipped units) are dispatched for things that are not riots

(2) Police checks and verifies first, as opposed to kicking doors in shooting because a 13 year old made a call.

(3) Police is taught not to be trigger happy, even if there are reports - or actual sighting - of the suspect carrying a gun, knife, etc.

(4) Police doesn't get military surplus equipment fit for war, nor does it use it in civillian cases.

(5) Police doesn't equate a report of someone selling/doing drugs, with a chance to storm the place guns a blazing.

(6) Traffic police doesn't get to shoot you if they stopped your car and you had the audacity to walk out towards them. That's not even a thing.

(7) The police is taught to discern low-risk and high-risk situations, and not e.g. treat a guy with a knife 30 feet away, or a small black boy playing in a park as a threat.

(8) The police is taught to be an aid to the citizen, not to see everybody as a threat.

Some pointers:





The entire point here is that almost none of those generic (but very real!) issues really apply in this specific case for once (especially given the call number2 applies a bit, as I already said). "Police responding to a call about a shooter are armed, actually encounter someone with a gun, point guns and tell them to drop it, gun gets dropped, nobody gets shot" sounds like something that could happen in many places and is not a useful example for cops being way to fast to shoot people.

>The entire point here is that almost none of those generic (but very real!) issues really apply in this specific case

Yes, but we already covered that - that it's not specifically about this case.

Even specific to this case, the reality of surrounding circumstances and events is significant.

We very recently had country-wide protests on the topic of police brutality with very minimal consequnce.

Those surrounding circumstances almost certainly informed this man's decision to own a firearm and his decision to brandish that firearm while figuring out what was happening on his property.

The assumption here is that the stress of the situation was the cause of his heart attack, and ultimately his death.

What ever happened to giving someone a phone call to assess the situation?

SWAT teams in the United States are primarily used for serving high-risk warrants. Their purpose is not riot control.

> It's not just that there are fewer guns elsewhere

I'm sorry but it seems to be the main factor though. When the probability of the suspect carrying a gun is very low, you are not that motivated to use yours.

> (many countries have heavy hunting population, and people will use shotguns, close themselves in their house if they're accused, etc).

That's completely different. You can't really hide your hunting weapon in your jacket. People don't walk around with their weapons in the town. The culture is completely different. Even in a country where many people do own weapons (Switzerland) it's very rare that someone would use them for crime.

It wasn’t a dumb accident, and law enforcement isn’t to blame in this case. The police response was deliberately incited by a group of malicious individuals. How can minors, who typically are given lighter sentences, be discouraged from “swatting”?

Swatting only seems to exist in the us (afaik?) with a heavily militarized police force full of agro authoritarians trained to prioritize violence and force.

All countries have idiot teenagers…

Maybe we can take the model of other countries that have idiot teenagers but no swatting problem?

Unfortunately the prevalence of guns in America is a seriously mitigating factor on behalf of police blame for swatting here. With ~15,000 gun homicides every year, >20,000 gun suicides, and several tens of thousands of additional shootings, you can’t fault the police for expecting a call about gun violence to actually involve gun violence.

Thus just isn’t true. There may be more gun violence in the US, but all countries police bring guns when responding to respond to reports of guns.

I believe the point is that in America, police SOP is to assume every call will involve guns because of the demographics of the country.

Sure but my point is that this is irrelevant to swatting, which by definition involves a claim that guns are involved.

I really really don't think suicides explain or excuse strong aggressive action. The cops themselves are most likely to die or get injured in car accident - due to them being on streets a lot.

America does not have significantly more homicides then other western countries. Most gun homicides are people who know each other shooting each other in dispute. And they are clustered in high violence places making the rest of America safer then average.

> America does not have significantly more homicides then other western countries.

The US has 2-5x the murder rate of peer nations.

US 4.96/100k

Canada 1.76

UK 1.20

Germany 0.95

Japan 0.26

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intenti...

The usual argument is that if you exclude gang violence then the number is way lower. However, if you arbitrarily throw away the number one cause of violence in other countries, surprisingly enough, their numbers are also way lower.

The murder may count as gang violence whenever one of person is associated with gang - even if actual event happened due to jealousy or other crap. And being associated with gang can be also just due to who you know.

The point is, gang violence as aggregate is not meaningfully different from other violence.

> gang violence as aggregate is not meaningfully different from other violence

This is just false. The reason gang violence is separated out is that gang violence is perpetrated against other gang members.

I.e. the gun violence rate for non-gang members is dramatically lower.

It doesn’t mean gang violence is not a problem. It does mean that unless you are in a gang, the US doesn’t have a high murder rate.

I'm sure for young men growing up in certain neighborhoods, opting out of gang membership is less straight forward than you make it sound.

> is less straight forward than you make it sound.

Where do you think I comment on the ease of opting out of gangs?

Where the violence takes place in public, the relationship between the perpetrators and victims, the fact that both parties are usually armed, that bystanders are often caught in crossfire, the motives for the violence being beefs over territory, and the minimal events required to trigger the violence.

Except for those and more, it's just like any other violence.

Why exclude gang violence? The US has armed gangs.

I think the argument is usually in the context of "it's mostly people involved with gangs, it doesn't change much for the murder risk for a 'normal citizen'"

The US also has considerably higher wealth inequality than the other countries you've listed, and hence higher motivation for violent crime:


That said, I wouldn't consider those countries directly comparable as far as their position in the world, and how their culture is affected by that position. Russia is probably it's most direct peer, and is comparably closer when looking at wealth inequality and homicide rate.


We also have a much higher per-capita rate of incarceration regardless. Perhaps it isn't that we have a lot more murders because of guns, but because we're a culture that likes to solve problems with violence following our government's example.

Think about this number 5 for a moment. Using a simplistic statistical model it means that you have a ~0.4% risk of getting murdered by a gun over a 80 year lifetime. That's not far off of COVID as an unvaccinated individual. Now compare how people react about that news...

2018 US murders: 15,000

Covid deaths in last 15 months: 625,000 (500k/year)

So 30 times more likely to be killed by covid than by murder.

Not if you are below about 70 years old.

Most people who die in covid are old. I'd think most people who get shot, are younger

> Not if you are below about 70 years old.

As another commentor noted:

> However, if you arbitrarily throw away the number one cause of violence in other countries, surprisingly enough, their numbers are also way lower.

I replied to "So 30 times more likely" -- but it's not, it's either a lot higher, or a lot lower.

Fall accidents are also dangerous once you're old, doesn't mean it makes sense to compare that with gun violence or swatting

Vehicle deaths (2019): 37,595.

I'm aware of the difference, but it just means a different probability distribution. COVID's is likely very spikey, i.e. only there for a couple of years until you've successfully vaccinated, which we potentially already have, or until efficient treatment is found. Gun violence is there to stay with you throughout your life until society changes. Good luck.

We're doing something about COVID though. Even if some people are shouting "it's my right to have COVID", the vast majority of the population won't accept that stance. That's simply not the case with gun control.

There are many terrible consequences for health from COVID besides dying.

Herring approached the police with a gun drawn. That's how things happen in America. In any case, showing a dominant amount of force is imperative for safety in this country where guns are common.

That's just the facts. If we want the police to disarm, we need to first disarm the population. We shouldn't be sending police into armed situations with inferior weapons.

I would argue that showing a dominant amount of force is the norm not an imperative.

Police justify many actionsl/systems/norms based on the fact that their job is dangerous. However they have also, in doing so, created a situation where anything they do to reduce risk to themselves is valid. That hits a limit at some point

You could insist that police behave in a way that actually puts them at some risk…i.e., not presume they will be attacked or to be unarmed. We could decide that that risk is worth it as a society and insist upon it just as we insist that essential workers put themselves at risk during covid to feed us.

If potential risk is always used to justify force, eventually the risk will be gone because force will be the default.

> In any case, showing a dominant amount of force is imperative for safety in this country where guns are common.

Seems like treating every encounter as struggle for dominance instead puts you all in more danger.

Well yeah. But that's America's culture.

So lets take a step back. There's two sides to this encounter. It is common for Americans, when they feel like they're in danger, to approach situations with a gun drawn.

Police, knowing that other Americans will approach them with guns drawn (since criminals see Police as a threat), will also approach with guns drawn.

And guess what? The gun advocate will point out that everyone acted as an adult in this situation. No gunfire was exchanged. The heart attack was unfortunate, but this is actually one of the better situations.

Compare / Contrast instead with say: Breonna Taylor. The Police begin to knock down the door, someone gets confused and shoots at them. The Police shoot back killing Breonna Taylor.


You can't deny that the job that Police do and put themselves in means that Police are expected to get shot at. Changing this expectation will require more than just changing how Police operate, it also means changing America's culture to not have so many freaking guns.

Police are much less likely to be shoot at then rumor has it. Including by "criminals" which is quite wide category.

I also find it ridiculous that a country that says it is OK to defend your house with gun, also says it is OK for police to create situation in which people think they are attacked by violent strangers - where those strangers are cops.

Do you mean superior weapons such as gas grenades?

Guns are the worst, they need line of sight, overpenetrate, protective measures are ineffective, and they might not take the actual target either.

(Only tasers are worse.)

> Only tasers are worse.

Only tasers are worse at killing people. They're perfectly adequate for their intended use; allowing an officer to halt a person who presents a real danger to the officer, when alternatives are not available.

You are right that the homicides are highly clustered, but that doesn't mean there aren't more of them than in other countries.

However, what is happening is that most of those homicides are criminals killing other criminals and aren't very relevant to non-criminals. This greatly changes the balance of value vs risk to the average American.

The typical self-defense use of a gun is simply showing it and making some scumbag run away.

I don’t see that as a counter to what I’m saying, that seems like part of the model of those other countries.

> Swatting only seems to exist in the us

I don’t think this is true. I personally know of a case in the UK where due to a false report of a gun, an armed squad was sent to someone’s house.

It may not be discussed as casually as it is in the US, but every country has armed police and they deploy them when they expect guns to be involved.

There’s a fundamental difference between an UK “armed squad”, and SWAT in the US.

perhaps you could describe that “fundamental difference”???

The culture of policing in both places.

So if someone calls in to the UK police that there's been a shooting and a murder and the person has a gun, the cops don't show up with weapons and ready to shoot? How does that work?

Sure, police culture is very different, but this is irrelevant.

It’s just false to claim that swatting is a US only phenomenon or a function of police culture.

It is a US-only phenomenon. So far nobody was able to show an example of this happening in other countries.

Why are you making a false statement when you could easily have checked for yourself?


The article clearly says it was the first such occurrence. Also, it’s not clear this really was swatting, in that nobody was endangered: the police didn’t storm the house.

Yeah, there's definitely swatting in the UK.

The use of armed police there is a big deal though. My friend is a police officer in the UK and has a firearm and riot gear for armed responses, and they very rarely use it. When it is used, there's loads of reporting to ensure its use was justified.

I think you would be surprised at the amount of reporting that happens after similar events in the US.

I am an investigative reporter covering US law enforcement and crime. Let me know if you'd like to see some examples of the documentation I am referring to.

> Swatting only seems to exist in the us (afaik?)

[citation needed]

as someone who typically is very proactive about citing my comments (see my post history) I'm going to claim 'afaik' - as far as I know - as a citation in this case because I'm clearly indicating a nonauthorative claim here.

This would be a case where you're asking me to prove the negative...can you find instances of Swatting occurring with similar resulting violence in, lets say, Japan or Western Europe?

> law enforcement isn’t to blame in this case. The police response was deliberately incited by a group of malicious individuals.

If a system can be easily manipulated from the outside to produce negative results, the outsider is easily to blame the first time it happens.

Swatting has been a problem for over a decade[0]. If the system remains vulnerable to the same attack for that long, the system administrator is at fault for failing to resolve the issue.

[0] I was lazy so just looked up what UD thinks, the second definition is dated 2007, so that seems like a reasonable date to consider "over a decade" https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=swatting

>How can minors, who typically are given lighter sentences, be discouraged from “swatting”?

People will call the cops with BS accusations and fake threats (e.g. bomb threats, etc) all over the world, including calling them on people.

SWATing however only (or 99%) happens in the US, where the police charges like bulls, is trigger happy, puts their own "safety" over anything else in comical degree, gets military surplus equipment in bulk, and has the impression they are in an action movie...

The news popularized SWATting as a something that in the US leads to the target's death, because those cases are more "newsworthy". There are probably many more cases that end up with no deaths or injuries but still a lot of psychological trauma. But this still means that SWATting in the US can be used to good effect with the intention of getting the target killed or at the very least seriously harmed. You can view it as a combination between contract killing (the caller) and manslaughter (the shooter).

But the Police needs to pay for overreacting, not for showing up like in this case. The Police showed up and "admirably" defused the situation, probably only because the target was white. But if you incriminate showing up in force the initial response will be to stop showing up, and much later to do it in a more peaceful fashion, like with 1-2 people at the door and the rest of the platoon in military gear being hidden.

Why is newsworthy in scare quotes?

Quotation marks [0]. Because I wasn't trying to express my own opinion about the newsworthiness of reporting on SWATting incidents that result in deaths compared to those which don't. So I quoted the term used most often with regard to this kind of news.

Why assume the scare? And how did the rest of my comment imply it? Absent any reason to infer that particular meaning how do you support your decision to take the least charitable interpretation?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

> SWATing however only (or 99%) happens in the US

[citation needed]

Impossible to reach all minors with so many absent parents.

Sometimes these events are like getting struck by lightning, and all we can do is install lightning rods to lessen the statistics.

In this case that might look like further anonymity or public service announcements explaining to people that if you share your address some crazy person may end up killing you (somehow).

> What exactly is that universal "same procedure" that "civilized countries" (please leave such flamebait out btw) follow?

Flamebait language beyond, US cops deploy SWAT teams on regular warrants and non-violent crimes. US cops seem to love their swat teams.

> The primary reason this wouldn't happen like this in most other countries is that it's unlikely that the home owner would turn up with a gun - if they did, police would be pointing theirs too.

Like, it is legal to own the gun, but if you have one cops are free to shoot you?

As I understand it, SWAT teams are seen as very prestigious by both police officers and departments. IMO it stems from the fetishization of all things ‘tactical’ which is common in American culture. Many cops say their goal is to join SWAT rather than the normal progression of detective, captain, etc.

Anyway, I suspect this leads to SWAT teams wanting to justify their existence by responding to as many situations as possible.

It is a complicated issue, though. In a country where many people own assault rifles that massively outgun a cop’s pistol, SWAT teams are kind of a necessity.

Most regular cops carry patrol rifles in their vehicles. They are almost never outgunned.

> Like, it is legal to own the gun, but if you have one cops are free to shoot you?

That's in no way what I said, and not what happened here for once?

They literally can wait around and see if anyone dies, according to the supreme court ruling declaring that they have no obligation to protect anyone (in the U.S.).


Sure they legally can do that. But a police department's goal shouldn't be do do the minimum necessary without breaking the law. Their goal should be to be as beneficial as reasonably possible.

I would argue their response shouldn't be to storm in with military flashbangs either, which is a typical response causing serious physical harm - burns, deafness, blindness. I refuse to believe there isn't a middle ground.

Like what happened in this case? Where they appear to have responded appropriately?

there is ban guns..

I mean I'm totally fine with that, though I'm led to believe this is a fairly contentious issue in American politics haha.

If we end up in a situation like in today's Cuba, there would be nothing the people can do to stop the government from doing whatever they like.

This is already the case and has been for decades. The army is far, far better equipped than a ragtag band of militia. Individuals with guns would only add to the chaos.

The individual military members are going to have quite the moral quandry about firing on its own people in a free country which was at least attempted to be built on integrity.

I agree, but also the situation you're describing is no longer a 'free country' so much as anarchy or an attempt at strong-handed rule. I'd liken it much more to the cultural revolution and the tank man.

There is already a tool for that: a General Strike. It's easier to pull off too and brings governments to their knees in weeks if not days.

How is that working out in Hong Kong?

I'm not sure why you would conflate a city-wide strike with a general strike. Maybe you could explain that part before I answer.

From Krebs on Security (linked to from Jason Scott's Twitter thread):

> Unable to disengage a lock on his back fence, Herring was instructed to somehow climb over the fence with his hands up.

> “He was starting to get more upset,” Billings recalled. “He said, ‘I’m a 60-year-old fat man and I can’t do that.'”

> Billings said Mr. Herring then offered to crawl under a gap in the fence, but when he did so and stood up, he collapsed of a heart attack. Herring died at a nearby hospital soon after.

Agreed, but all too often there has been a forced entry. I think they should be resorting to cameras first.

> I don’t really understand what you want the police to do in these situations where they receive calls about gun crimes in progress. They can’t just assume it’s a prank and wait around to see if anyone dies before they choose to send some police to investigate.

If they assumed it was a prank, there's a chance nobody would die, unlike in this case where they did make sure somebody would.

Is that the point you're making?

> The homeowner went outside with a gun in hand and they de-escalated the situation without “storming” or firing any shots.

"De-escalated it" to the point where the homeowner had a heart attack and died. Without the video, this just looks like poor police work, and of course a heinous crime by the original caller.

The headline says there was a swatting, though.

Why would anyone go outside to meet the police with a gun in their hand?

"He went out the house with a gun, because he heard someone was on his property,"

Sentence is about 6 words too long.

You don't think the police tazered the guy here? Since he died of a heart attack my guess is they did. Police in other countries typically doesn't use tazers.

I'm a homicide researcher in Chicago. There were over 4000 shootings and 769 homicides here last year. AFAIK, there were 0 swattings here.

So, I don't think it would be a good idea to set "assume it's a swatting" as the default response to 911 calls for service in response to violent crime. At least for Chicago.

I assume you mean deaths from swattings. There are swattings every year in Chicago.

Say more about homicide research in Chicago? That sounds super interesting. (I'm a software developer in Chicago.)

I do the same for another major city, but I actually work for the dept and crunch more than just homicide numbers. Assuming poster isn’t with a dept or maybe city gov, Honestly it’s not that exciting to be on the outside crunching murder numbers. Me and op work in similar jurisdictions, and he seems to have a good grasp on his stuff, so I hope he’s working with the dept.

It’s MUCH more interesting to get a job with the dept as they let you run wild on all their data from fleets to police locations, investigations, digital stuff like facial rec etc. most depts need good analysts too in beleaguered cities so go against the grain and join up, you’ll love it. Not to mention the security and benefits. Lot of my work revolves around holding cops more accountable that to me is the most interesting stuff, not crime analysis.

Just had a meeting yesterday where the majors were asking me how our team can figure out what aspects of a detectives investigation leads to the maximum likelihood of case closures and identifying the largest factors for example. As much as Twitter/nonprofit/outsider crime analysts have access to open data, some stuff you gotta be on the inside to access let alone move the needle vs. just reporting analysis to followers. Highly encourage anyone reading to consider…


I've largely been focused on implementing recommendations from a PERF report on Chicago homicide investigations [0] after years of attrition in the Bureau of Detectives collided with a massive spike in violent crime (in 2016, following the Laquan McDonald murder). My main projects have centered on developing CPD's capacity for recovering video evidence (mainly CCTV) in homicide and shooting cases, as well as teaching a special detail of detectives how to convert footage from proprietary codecs to standard codecs in a forensically sounds way (so that the footage can actually be viewed by less technologically savvy detectives and assistant state's attorney's). You can view seeking-to-identify focused samples of collected footage on CPD's YouTube channel [1] (although these are not representative of the breadth of footage now collected on each homicide). It's not as polished as LAPD's productions [2], but that's to be expected considering the well developed entertainment and digital media workforce in LA.

Although I do want to praise Chicago for it's willingness to make data available publicly. I had been pushing for years to get shooting data posted publicly and we just got that added to the data portal in May [3]. Additionally, the Cook County State's Attorneys Office puts a lot of their case data on the CCSAO data portal [4]. These are only a tiny fraction of the tables in CPD's or CCSAO's respective data warehouses, but as far as public data ecosystems go, Chicago's is the least bad I've worked with of major US cities. Working with LAPD's or NYPD's open data is a real pain.

[0] https://home.chicagopolice.org/homicideclearancereport2019/

[1] https://youtube.com/c/ChicagoPoliceNews

[2] https://youtube.com/c/LAPDONLINE1

[3] https://data.cityofchicago.org/Public-Safety/Violence-Reduct...

[4] https://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov/browse?tags=state%27s+a...

Wow! You and I actually have very similar roles.

Too much time on the internet can give people a distorted view of things.

How many times did the SWAT team do something useful last year in Chicago?

Hundreds. You may be surprised to learn this, but shooters and killers often violently resist being arrested unless they face clearly overwhelming force. A lot of murderers and shooters have been peacefully arrested by CPD tactical officers.

You can see the use of force incidents that resulted in complaints here, on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability case portal [0] (although not all of these involve tac officers). You can also see the statistics on rates of use of force in this dashboard [1], and see what counts as use of force (as well as when use of deadly force is authorized) here [2].

It's important that people actually check up on their police departments. Police serve a vital and life-saving role in society, but they have to be actually monitored. Just assuming they're all bad gives cover to the bad ones and discourages good ones from signing up, and as someone who checks, I can tell you that the people most abused by America disproportionately call the police for help, and many of their emergencies are truly harrowing.

[0] https://www.chicagocopa.org/data-cases/case-portal/

[1] https://home.chicagopolice.org/statistics-data/data-dashboar...

[2] https://home.chicagopolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/G0...

“ abused by America ”

what does this mean?

It's a cool little rhetorical trick that let's us redirect and spread blame around to everyone.

This is a problem technology can help with. Emergency dispatchers could at least verify that any cellular call came from a tower near the supposed address or a landline call is nearby.

I'm not saying police shouldn't respond if the call comes from an IP gateway or a different state - but dispatch should tell them confidence is low and in that case police could approach the scene much more skeptically.

Maybe ask caller to connect via FaceTime or similar for serious cases? IIRC most phones already share precise caller location when calling 911. Everything else should be treated as spam.

> Maybe ask caller to connect via FaceTime or similar for serious cases? IIRC most phones already share precise caller location when calling 911. Everything else should be treated as spam.

That obviously won't work, because you can't expect people in legitimate emergencies to do something like that. Say they don't even have one of those apps installed, is the 911 dispatcher supposed to talk them through installing Zoom before they send help? That's literally a Kafkaesque nightmare (or straight out of a political attack ad).

Honestly, I think the most realistic way to solve this is my making investigations into SWATing really high priority (e.g. dedicated FBI people investigating these crimes), and then handing out heavy, punitive sentences as a deterrent. The only reason anyone does this is they think they can get away with it (and often do). I think it'd stop once that impression is changed.

Don't know much about Android but every iPhone comes out of the box with it. And it shouldn't even be an option, but default. Like smartphone makers should enforce this. Probably require you to stream from both cameras.

> Don't know much about Android but every iPhone comes out of the box with it. And it shouldn't even be an option, but default. Like smartphone makers should enforce this. Probably require you to stream from both cameras.

It's just a terrible idea. I'm guessing it took less than a minute to come up with it, and you spent that time thinking of reasons to support it and almost no time thinking about the problems with it. It's just that bad.

Some obvious problems:

1. You didn't consider the most popular smartphone OS at all.

2. Not everyone has a smartphone.

3. Not everyone who has a smartphone knows how to use all the apps on it, or can figure a new one out in a stressful situation.

4. How exactly do you think someone who's actually being threatened would prove it to the police over a video call (reveal their hiding place to take video of the perp with the gun)?

5. Don't you think the SWATter (or whatever you call them) could fake a video call using some accepted service, like they already fake phone calls?

6. What if there's no data at their location, or the signal is too poor for video but good enough for voice (like my parents' basement)?

7. Etc. (I could go on, but I think I proved my point)

8. They are using a landline.

If they call landline you already know precise location…

Definitely not the case with VOIP. I had a case where a roommate in college had to call 911 on our VOIP phone (bad cell service in the house) and we were connected to a dispatcher in a different state (where I had lived previously). I doubt if most people remember to update their location with the VOIP provider when they move.

Does this apply to VOIP? A lot of POTS phones here in Norway are plugged into the network router not a physical landline.

Yes all of those are issues that don’t even take a second to figure out. But it’s a step forward.

> Yes all of those are issues that don’t even take a second to figure out. But it’s a step forward.

Most of them are dealbreakers. A few even show that your solution won't even properly address the SWATting problem it's ostensibly meant to solve, even ignoring the bad tradeoffs.

I'll grant you it's a step, just not a step forward.

"I think someone is robbing my house, I'm currently hiding in the attic"

"Great, let me send you a calendar invite for a Microsoft Teams meeting. Can you do 13:30? Oh no wait, my supervisor has a clash then... how about 14:45?"

So some of the big online streamers get swatted very frequently. They are generally reluctant to talk about it because they don't want to encourage the behavior. But a couple of the ones that live in Austin have revealed that they have an arranged visual signal they can use to tell the officers "we're ok this is just a swatting call."


I don’t see anything in the article that claims an actual SWAT team was deployed here, or that the police did anything wrong or irresponsible.

There was a report of an armed gunman who had already killed someone on this guy’s property, so cops went to search for him. What exactly would you have them do differently?

> "He went out the house with a gun, because he heard someone was on his property," Fitch explained. "He sees all these cops around him, and they ask if he is Mark Herring, 'put your hands up,' so he tosses the gun away from him to show he's not a threat, and [put his] hands up."

If not a SWAT team, a large armed response.

What do you propose as an alternative? They can’t send unarmed cops to respond to reports of gun violence, and it wouldn’t be responsible to simply send one cop.

By all accounts, the police responded appropriately and de-escalating the situation when the man came outside with a gun.

I don’t understand what people want to be different about this situation, other than for the police to become clairvoyant so they can know when reports are false before they get there.

> By all accounts, the police responded appropriately and de-escalating the situation when the man came outside with a gun.

Whose accounts would those be of? Is there a video available for review?

The original Minneapolis PD's report on George Floyd was the only official account of the events prior to the medical examiner's report, and was specifically written to be as detail-free as legally possible.


> it wouldn’t be responsible to simply send one cop

Does that even happen in the USA? I'm in the UK, and I can't remember the last time I saw a solitary cop - they patrol in pairs here.

I've heard serving UK police officers elsewhere online say that their department's standard response to reports of hostage situations is to send one officer to drive past the premises in either an unmarked car or their personal car* to see if the report checks out.

In general, cuts to the police have made single crewing a lot more common.

*With the exception of dog handlers, British police aren't allowed to drive home in their patrol cars.

For low priority stuff it's common enough I'd say it's the standard.

>What do you propose as an alternative

Send the drones ahead. Flying, walking, tracked, wheeling.

Like that wouldn’t cause a heart attack?

Why send the officers at all and risk their lifes, can't we just install weapons on the drones? Oh yea we probably can. dramatic evil music starts

>What do you propose as an alternative?

From the police that regularly chokes people, shots unarmed men, women, and even kids, and likes to play with military gear, and are trigger happy?

Probably one can't expect much of them, anyway.

A competent police would have set up some kind of barricade to stand behind, call for the person to come out, try to watch the house from afar to see what's going on, and in any case, not have several people stand with drawn weapons aiming at a person...

Yes, when there's a report that a gunman has already shot someone, the police should respond by... hiding.

Of course not, they should respond Hollywood-style, so that they create chaos and even more people get a chance to be shot, Mexican Standoff style.

After all if "a gunman has already shot someone", the police can obviously bring that person back to life by charging into the scene guns ablazing...

And, as many SWATing cases have shown us, "when there's a report that a gunman has already shot someone" it's necessarily true!


i dunno but "swatting" seems like a decidedly american thing so how come its not a problem in other countries?

What happens in your country when the police receive an anonymous phone call about a violent crime in progress at a residence?

Not by sending a SWAT team....


Here you can see we have more crime per 1000 then America. But we have significant less gun crimes and/or violent crimes then US. Also violent crime with murder and murder crime. 1 more trivia item is that we actually have more police officers per capita then America.

Not sure what to conclude. Gun restrictions seem not to curb crime but seems to curb violent crimes and murders. Or maybe we are just less violent :) I'm not sure.

But what I can conclude is that our Police doesn't have to go many times to violent crime scenes and when they go the chance someone is armed with a gun even less likely....

Not really what I asked. If the police get a report of an ongoing violent crime, do they respond? If they respond, do they send more than one or two officers? Are those officers armed?

If the answer to all of those questions is "yes", then congratulations, you have exactly the same situation as this case in Tennessee. (If the answer to any is "no", ...?)

"1 more trivia item is that we actually have more police officers per capita then America."

50% more. I'm impressed.

OTOH, that site shows The Netherlands as having ~155 police officers total. I guess they're not counting the 24,000 "peace officers".

New Zealand has 5 total (0.1 / 100,000).

Best I can tell, violent crime has an extremely high correlation with poverty and/or corruption, and little to no correlation with gun restrictions. The presence of extreme outliers is telling. For example, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and Norway have high gun ownership rates and relatively relaxed gun regulation, but low violent crime. Venezuela, Mexico, China, and Vietnam have strong firearms restrictions and terrible violent crime rates.

While you're probably right that poverty is part of the problem, counting raw number of firearms is misleading.

Norway is mostly hunting rifles for example. Very few handguns.

Policing is also different. Police is usually not carrying guns, but the moment a gun is reported it causes a massive response. As a criminal, bringing a gun massively increases your risk, as without one you're unlikely to run into anyone with a lethal weapon. It also causes a risk of a far longer sentence.

> the moment a gun is reported it causes a massive response. As a criminal, bringing a gun massively increases your risk, as without one you're unlikely to run into anyone with a lethal weapon. It also causes a risk of a far longer sentence.

That's exactly the same in the US, btw. Bringing a gun causes the tactical team to come in rather than the normal cops, and it aggravates the criminal's sentence.

> Bringing a gun causes the tactical team to come in rather than the normal cops

Missing the point, which is that this is a meaningful escalation in Norway where regular cops do not carry guns in most instances. It's a far less meaningful escalation when you're facing armed police either way.

The point both with that and the sentencing is that it creates a sharp escalation from a low risk base.

Escalation only works as a deterrence from negative behaviours if the lowest risk alternative is actually seen as low risk.

Nothing about this story about Iceland's high rate of gun ownership and low rate of violence says "relaxed gun regulation" to me: https://globalnews.ca/news/4236365/iceland-gun-control-viole...

Very few countries can compete with the US on the ease with which one can buy a firearm, so if that is your standard, sure. But compared to most of the world, that process is pretty damn relaxed, and gun ownership rates are pretty high as a result. And in some selected ways, those countries are even more relaxed: silencers can be purchased over the counter without a permit, and there is no regulatory distinction between short barrel and long barrel rifles. And in some (albeit regulated) cases even modern full-auto rifles can be owned, which isn't even possible in the US...where the newest full auto gun that a civilian can buy was made in 1986 and likely costs >$25k.

Here in the UK the police attend. They're armed with tasers only (and some don't have those). They're trained to deescalate violence. If they assess the situation is bad enough they can call in armed backup but it's rarely needed.

For whatever reason I very rarely hear about swat-like behavior from the Norwegian police, and it is not because media leave them alone.

I hear about unnecessary use of force while detaining someone, a few standoffs against armed opponents, a few car chases but nothing like swatting.

There was no “swat like behavior”. There was no unnecessary use of force. At least that’s my reading.

Depends. Would it be Thursday between 09:00 and 16:00? If so they'd have someone here in 25 minutes. If not, it'd take something like an hour until someone turned up and asked if I wanted to make a report.

Here in germany it depends... if the dispatcher has serious doubts regarding the validity of the call he might simply tell the kid on the phone to "f... off", if there is something sounding valid you might -depending on the region- get either a "visit" from local police or directly from the SEK (the german version of SWAT). But... the SEK has a relative good track record on capturing the subjected fellons alive.

You're asking this on an American-centric forum, secure in the knowledge most Americans aren't paying attention to issues with the police in other countries.

no i'm responding to someone acting like "there is no other way to handle this" who's clearly not considered that other countries handle it rather differently

The person saying there was no way to handle it differently was talking about the specific case in this article where we know the details and can consider each of the police's actions logically using common sense.

We’re clear here that that was just what the kid said, all made up right? And no one was actually killed prior to the swat showing up. The article was written pretty confusingly.. anyway sounded to me like the guy was literally just sitting around and happened to have a gun, as you probably would in a rural area, and went into fight or flight once the neighbor told him he was surrounded by armed cops

But I would think - depending on whether prank reports like this are relatively common, as a % of all SWAT calls made legitimate or illegitimate - it’d be better to check out the scene, maybe even knock first if the situation allows it, as a default, to determine any chance that they were just being sent on a wild goose chase by some bored gamers. I guess cases with quote-unquote hostages would preclude that kind of luxury though, dunno

It sounds like the police did a fairly rational thing here. They went to the house in a large group, they asked for the person, told him to out down his weapon, and didn’t shoot him. That sounds like a reasonable response, even though it ended in tragedy.

The only people responsible for this were the people who called the police with a false report. That is the crime.

I think cops do a lot of bad shit and need to be held accountable, but this sounds like they did the right thing.

I suspect that far, far, far, fewer die of heart attacks from being surprised by police than are shot by violent people.

The article doesn't give much details about what the police did. It says there were a lot of them, and that the victim came out of their house with a gun and was told to put their hands up.

So they definitely didn't storm in. And he did have a gun.

> It says there were a lot of them

> ... they definitely didn't storm in.

Yes. There were a lot of them for absolutely no reason but for a completely baseless claim.

> And he did have a gun.

This is irrelevant. He was on his own property and did nothing wrong. The authorities didn't know he had a gun before sending so many cops.

> Yes. There were a lot of them for absolutely no reason but for a completely baseless claim.

How would they know its baseless? If someone broke into your house with a gun do you want the police to show up assuming you're lying?

That seems like a terrible idea and an unrealistic one at that. If someone is calling to report a violent crime in progress, you’re not coming to a theoretical judgement where you have the luxury of collecting facts to make a determination. This is a matter of prudential and practical judgement concerning human lives. It is not a joke. You must respond quickly in case it is true. This is not a horse race. We’re not taking bets on the most likely case. You will lose time if it turns out to be a prank, but the potential risk far outweighs that loss.

This man also didn’t die because he was shot btw. The way you reduce these incidents is through severe punishments for reporting false crimes.

I would be pretty shocked if SWATting was any appreciable % of police responses. You can't delay response times by 50% to handle the .01% of cases which are falsely initiated.

We're not asking police to delay response, we're asking them to delay shooting people.

But when all you have is a hammer, every citizen looks like a nail.

Actually, in this case, the police didn't shoot. The guy died anyway.

> Maybe police should default to assume swatting and develop techniques to evaluate actual risk prior to storming in based on an anonymous phone call?

You read about a few false positives and decide the police need to start assuming by default that every call is a false positive. You have no data on the number of calls where sending a SWAT team is the correct response (true positives), the number of calls where the responder correctly decides not to send SWAT (true negatives) or where the responder incorrectly decides not to send SWAT (false negatives).

No, you have no data, just a handful of anecdotes and on that basis you want to completely change how first responders work. You talk about “Bayesian” but you couldn’t possibly calculate how many lives could be saved or lost by this change.

Please, let’s stop acting like we’re experts at everything because we know a bit about software. Maybe other people are competent too. Maybe they know shit we don’t.

Oh and by the way, like someone else pointed out, the article doesn’t even say SWAT was deployed or that any law enforcement entered his home.

Your comment confused me, the article says the kid in the U.K. called the local police department so until I read this I assumed they googled the local number and dialled the police directly internationally, not going through 911. But it sounds like that would have got them 911? Here it would just get you the guy at the front desk in that station.

I am surprised if it’s possible for someone in the U.K. to call 911 and get “911 stateside” and not redirected to 999 in the U.K.?

I don't assume competence of 911 responders because they regularly get the wrong house. Your aggressive screed really added nothing to the conversation. "It's probably correct so we should ignore the problem" isn't a sane perspective on police violence based on a prank call.

My point is that they have more data and experience on deciding whether a call is legitimate or not. More than the GP here, who read two articles about SWAT-ing before deciding to upend the entire system.

> regularly get the wrong house

Citation needed, with data? Or do you, like GP, also want us to assume that your anecdotes are data? And getting the exact address isn’t the same thing as deciding the legitimacy of a call.

> “it’s probably correct so we should ignore the problem” isn’t a sane perspective

You’ve mischaracterised my comment and called me insane. That was uncalled for. I did not say this wasn’t a problem. I merely questioned whether a person with 0 data and 0 experience was qualified to call for upending the current system. More data is needed before we can hold such strong opinions.

I would request that in future you don’t call people’s opinions insane without even understanding what they’re saying. You’re currently in violation of HN guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html)

> Citation needed, with data?

Depends if you count a minimum of 10% "regularly"?

From 2003: "After the New York City raid that killed Alberta Spruill, Police Chief Raymond Kelly estimated that at least 10 percent of the city’s 450+ monthly no-knock drug raids were served on the wrong address, under bad information, or otherwise didn’t produce enough evidence for an arrest. Kelly conceded, however, that NYPD didn’t keep careful track of botched raids, leading one city council member to speculate the problem could be even worse."

There's a whole bunch documented here (where I got the quote) - https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/balko_whi...

We’re not talking about the same thing are we? This conversation is specifically about where dispatchers are sent after a person makes a call requesting law enforcement, giving their address.

Fair point.

Although I think it speaks to the general competence of the US police that they can't get the right address even when they've spent days/weeks organising a raid - I wouldn't necessarily trust them to get it right on a fast rollout on a SWAT call.

>Your aggressive screed really added nothing to the conversation.

Nor did your flamebaiting, uncharitable response to said comment (see 'In Comments' guidelines).

If the call doesn’t meet a particular threshold it can be treated as genuine while also ending the call with a pre-recorded message about the dangers of phoney SWAT calls.

If this is a prank, we WILL find you. Please enter the last four digits of your social security number followed by the pound key to receive an automatic 90% discount on your sentence.


We're in the habit of blaming the police for everything. No. When there is a call for danger assume the worst. Not doing so could mean a life is lost. It is very rare for someone to die of a heart attack because of a swat.

How about we punish the hell out of anyone who does these stupid prank calls instead.

Part of the problem is that the SWAT type response to a reported threat is a dangerous and extremist from of policing.

If US police focused more on containment and de-escalation this wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

Standard practice elsewhere is to send the nearest foot or car patrol to investigate, and prepare intervention team as backup.

No idea why you would send an intervention team in blind, much less on an unconfirmed tip. It's a recipe for all kinds of disasters and expensive one too.

How about we do both? Think of strategies that minimize harm in case of a false alert and severe punishment for malicious false alerts? Death by heart attack is not the only possible bad outcome of a SWAT team storming a house.

>We're in the habit of blaming the police for everything.

This is true, and I think people today have a very warped view of policing. However, there are plenty of legitimate areas of improvement:

- No knock raids

- Violent arrests of non-violent offenders

- Eminent domain

- etc.

No knock raids are particularly troubling because (among many other reasons) they can result in a legal shootout between police and civilians: A civilian who has been violently woken up in the middle of the night is disoriented and scared, and legitimately believes he is subject to a life-threatening home invasion. He opens fire on the police, who he believes to be the home invaders. The police, being fired on, have a legitimate right to defend themselves. It's not airtight, but this scenario can lead to a legal shootout where both parties have valid legal arguments.

I realize this is mostly oblique to the topic at hand, but our policing can and should be improved, even if it gives ammunition to the folks who want to demonize the police unjustly.

It sounds pretty airtight to me. (But the formerly-sleeping person's legal argument doesn't really matter, since they are dead.)

What do you think isn't airtight in that scenario?

You can react without assuming the worst. For example after a bomb threat it is reasonable to calmly evacuate a school and do a search, that doesn’t mean people should be fleeing for their lives. Swatting however generally provokes an over reaction.

> Swatting however generally provokes an over reaction.

How can you know this. My guess would be it's like hacking any other system. You hear about the few times they succeed. Especially if turns into a horrible incident the news media can use to fit one of their favorite narratives.

Several states recently passed anti swatting legislation, California (2013), Illinois (2015), etc because it’s common enough to be considered a significant issue. It’s not just about the risk to the public, these overreactions interferes with the police and waste significant resources.

Really people have been doing this for a long time, the “boy who cried wolf” is part of Aesop's Fables dating to ~600 BCE. Swatting is significant because it’s harder for cops to filter based on internet famous than actually famous.

The boy who cried wolf is not a story of over-reactions. And none of this evidence proves or even suggests such a thing, unless perhaps you were claiming the laws themselves were an over-reaction. Or unless you are defining over-reaction as any reaction at all other than omnisciently knowing when a warning is false and not reacting to it.

Assuming the worst includes assuming being used for swatting. Excessively violent response from US police is a big part of the problem. Also see Brionna Taylor. The police should always verify before going in guns blazing.

No, the swatting issue is at least 50% on police as organization. There are and will always be assholes and false calls.

Institution that reacts without care and with sever overreaction so often, will have more of them simply because they are super easy to make attack.

One time I was talking to a police officer who was giving me a ticket and I asked him what his favorite part of the job was. He said “breaking down doors and kicking peoples asses”.

The police aren't the initiators of the death here. They get a call that someone is shot, and that soon others will be killed, they are going to call SWAT.

> They get a call that someone is shot, and that soon others will be killed, they are going to call SWAT.

There is no law of nature requiring that police departments react that way. It is up to us as a society to decide what behavior we desire.

If, for instance, I were to learn that 90% of all calls for SWAT teams are from "swatting" (baseless prank calls performed to create the reaction) while 10% were actual life-or-death situations it would affect my opinion of the right way for police to handle it.

So I think knowing the actual statistics is important.

You really think 90% could be pranks? Anything could potentially be a prank, that doesn't change the fact someone could be in imminent danger. Police need to always both exercise caution and respond quickly to potential crimes.

I'd recommend reading mcherm's comment again. He doesn't state that 90% could be pranks. He states "If, for instance, I were to learn that 90% ..." This is called "reductio ad absurdum", and is a pretty standard method of arguments. The statement from x86_64Ubuntu was that a report of violence in all cases is responded to by a SWAT team, with the implication that this is correct and reasonable behavior in all circumstances.

From my reading, mcherm is giving a hypothetical scenario in which the automatic response of sending a SWAT team would be unreasonable. The conclusion isn't that we exist in that hypothetical scenario, but that more information is needed in order to determine whether and how close we may be to it.

Yes but the reasonableness of that hypothetical can still be challenged. This isn't a math proof, but a discussion of the reasonableness of a policy.

Correct, and the hypothetical establishes that the proportion of maliciously false calls is essential for determining the reasonableness of the policy. At 0% maliciously false calls, reasonable. At 90% maliciously false calls, unreasonable. Clearly, that number is important to the discussion, which is the sole point of introducing the hypothetical.

This is a repeat of the same argument. An unrealistic hypothetical does not establish that we need to consider something in the real world. Hypothetically perhaps UFO's were beaming ideas into the cops' heads, hence we cannot trust their statements and need an alternative data source. Nope, this is preposterous so we can go ahead and not worry about concerns based solely on this argument.

Thank you for explaining this so clearly.

There’s no winning for the cops.

It’s a really hard job where you have to walk the correct route through a protocol in an emergency, often while being in danger yourself

They could win a lot more by being smarter. Their tactics are terrible. A lot of crime could be (and is) de-escalated without the police there. They can be better trained and informed to deal with different scenarios without pulling their weapon, shouting commands, etc. They can have a better relationship in their communities. There's a lot of evidence that alternative methods result in less harm.

The "protocol" for police is also dictated by their unions and the way laws around police use of force are interpreted. In general they know they are safe if they simply kill a person as soon as they perceive a threat. They will be legally covered and physically out of harm's way. This therefore incentivizes them to use lethal force, because they have no incentive not to use lethal force.

Yes, police have a hard job. But it could be a lot less hard (for them) if laws and policies are reformed.

Crazy that this is being downvoted. The cops were responding to a call about a armed gunman actively killing. If they respond slowly or tepidly and people die, then they get yelled at. If they respond quickly and decisevly and they have been lied to, they get yelled at. They are not omnipotent.

What percentage of alerts triggered by home security systems are false alarms? I don't have authoritative numbers, but I kind of thought "everybody knows" it's most of them.

I'm not arguing for 90%, just against assumptions.

The kids initiated the whole thing and used the cops as proxy. The actions of the police can’t be ignored. To place all blame on the kids is to pretend that hyper mobilization of a quasi military is okay.

To take this further if someone malicious caused me to do something catastrophic at work should I be absolved of all accountability? Sure, I am not the person who did the malicious thing because I had no intent, but I did still do it. Maybe I shouldn’t be fired but the security policies and procedures should be changed for the entire company to prevent this from happening again.

So what exactly do you think the police shouldn't have done here?

Noone has an answer because people just want to be mad at the police.

why is swatting a very american thing? how come other countries police departments don't seem to have an issue with it?

You are asking other people to explain your associations and assumptions.

If you want to discuss a topic in a productive manner, the first thing to do is to honestly say something about what you believe and why.

What actual observations of the world led you to your generalizations?

No i'm responding to someone who things "there is no other way to respond" when clearly given many other countries don't have this problem, there must be?

What happens in other countries when the police receive an anonymous report of an ongoing violent crime at a residence?

What do the police in those countries do differently?

not send swat? actually at that not have a swat team that needs to justify its existence?

> is to pretend that hyper mobilization of a quasi military is okay.

To stop a shooter? Yes it is.

No it is not. For that you send the police, not the military and not quasi military.

Need actual evidence there is a shooter beyond just a phone call.

By the time you have that evidence, the evidence will be being carried out in body bags if there is a shooter.

"Perhaps the most notable aspect of the deadly force findings is that SWAT officers rarely discharge their firearms at human targets. We estimated that across the hundreds of team years for which we had data that SWAT officers took suspects under fire in just 342 of the tens of thousands of operations they undertook"


I don't think that most SWAT responses are actually saving lives with bullets. Also included in that paper is a table showing that most frequently, SWAT is used to serve warrants.

I’m glad that most SWAT incidents end without the team firing any rounds. To me, that’s a success case and a better outcome than if the metric showed “50% of the time, officers discharged their weapons”. It’s not a waste when their body armor goes untested on a call either.

If a warrant serving situation seems dangerous enough to use SWAT, I hope they use them and no rounds are fired. That’s a good warrant service, not a failure, in my book.

Can you describe the process you are suggesting?

"After receiving a phone call concerning an active shooter situation, the force sent round a single officer, just to double-check. The officer was among the 7 killed by the gunman."

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? The sheep were slaughtered because the town stopped trusting him. I'd rather the police scare a few unlucky people and waste some resources than learn to distrust our cries for help. Of course it's a tragedy that someone lost their life, but how many lives would be lost through not mobilising enough police?

Do you think we need corroborating evidence of a fire before rolling a fire truck, or is a phone call enough there?

The difference is that the fire brigade don't tend to run into a house and shoot the occupants.

Well in the case that we are discussing here, the police didn't shoot the guy.

The police/SWAT team are the ones who ultimately pull the trigger. They need to do their due diligence before doing so.

"Someone else told me XYZ" doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your actions. The people who called in with a false report certainly share in that responsibility, but it's not solely theirs.

They didn't pull the trigger at all. They just showed up.

True, but did they show up aggressively and unannounced stormed into the guy's house or land while armed to the teeth and totally shock him into death?

They didn’t storm anything. They responded to the call and the man came at the police with a gun. They de-escalated.

What are you proposing they should have done? Just waited it out from a distance?

Totally agree.

This is basically the same as blaming the first-day developer that wipes the production database. It's more on the police to change their behavior than to expect kids to stop being imbeciles.

This is an utterly irrelevant comparison. A more accurate one would be someone (not necessarily a first-day developer) who wiped the database while trying to cause trouble - though the consequences are not so dire in this case.

This is not just stupidity, it is malicious stupidity.

In my opinion, in these swatting incidents, the most responsible party is the police department answering the call without doing even a modicum of due diligence. The kids are stupid -- as kids will be, but there's not way a prank call should be able to summon a death squad to someone's door without there being _some_ checks.

"There's a shooting going on at my neighbor's. Someone's already dead! Help! Help!"

"Hang on... While we do due diligence!"

What due diligence would or could the police do? Maybe they could tell if the caller location was far away or overseas, but beyond that...

My intuition, without seeing the relevant data, is that rapid police response is worth the cost of occasional swatting.

"Where are you? Not sure if we can help you neighbor but we can protect you. We'll be at your place in 5 minutes and you'll tell us exactly what you heard and seen and where so we don't go in blind."

How about doing that instead of going to whatever address anyone gives them like a pizza delivery but with blazing guns instead of pizza?

I expect you would wind up with more people dead from slow police response than saved from reduced swatting. Granted, I don't have data to back this belief up, but it seems to me if you're suggesting a change from how the experts currently run things, you should provide data that supports the change.

You assume that police quickly showing up save lives (except only for swatting). This might be true in some cases, like mass shootings.

But in case of domestic disputes it's not that clear cut. Police arrives in minutes, in the heat of the moment, escalate further and they shoot someone, usually the best armed one among people arguing or just the one that has most trouble with calming immediately in the middle of a quarrel. In many cases if they caught a flat tire along the way and arrived 10 minutes later, situation might deescalate till then.

There must be some optimal reaction time for the police otherwise if faster is always better then the best thing would be to each of us having a policemen with loaded gun pointed at the back of our head all the time, half-asleep, ready to be woken up to shoot immediately in reaction to whatever crime we seem to be trying to commit.

Is it? I am asking a real question. How many people are saved by rapid police response vs. killed inadvertently? Where is there data that could be used to answer that question?

I don't know. It's simply my intuition. I know that I would want the police to respond rapidly if I called them about a shooter. I also know that swatting deaths are rare enough to get broad news attention, whereas I rarely hear about people saved by rapid police response, though I know they exist.

I sometimes look at the Citizen app (though I don't have notifications on) and there seem to be multiple instances that would benefit from a rapid response daily - theft, threats, domestic violence, shots fired, etc. I myself recently witnessed a fight and another passerby called the police. The police arrived within minutes and settled what might've escalated into a worse situation. I'm not aware of any swattings in my location, let alone fatal ones.

I'd be curious to see data on this problem.

> I also know that swatting deaths are rare enough to get broad news attention, whereas I rarely hear about people saved by rapid police response, though I know they exist.

Swatting destroys peoples house, traumatize people, injures people pretty much on the regular. And no one will pay you back for what was destroyed.

Just because no one died does not mean no damage was done.

Due diligence would have to still require a team showing up, but how aggressively the team behaves needs to be based on any actual data/evidence they can gather on-site, rather than operating on assumptions.

There is no way you can ask or expect police to show up to what may be an active shooter situation and be more passive. They may be entering a situation where split second reactions mean the difference between life and death.

> There is no way you can ask or expect police to show up to what may be an active shooter situation and be more passive.

Many non-US countries manage this just fine. It seems to be mainly the US where "warrior cop" is a thing.

I don't think that's true. Which countries reply to active shooter calls passively?

> Which countries reply to active shooter calls passively?

The question was "more passive [than the US]" and not "passively" - that would cover, e.g., the UK, who generally don't roll up to active shooter situations with a squadron of heavily armed trigger happy warrior cops like the US does.

If the difference is between life and death for the police, then absolutely they should be required to evaluate the situation. If that results in the police being killed, that is fine. They signed contracts saying they accept this potential consequence. On the other hand, the purported criminals have not been tried and found guilty. Until that has occurred they are innocent.

So if that means that when SWAT shows up, they walk in unarmed and get shot..so be it. That is acceptable. Having a potentially innocent person be killed is not.

That may be your opinion. I doubt the police officers who respond to active shooters would share your disregard for their lives though. Even if you think their deaths are acceptable, they likely won't, and will still go in ready to kill - or won't go in at all if they aren't permitted to defend themselves.

Again, the question is really which option is worse. On the one hand we have a zealous police response that will sometimes kill innocent people as a result of things like swatting, being unintentionally misinformed, or even just tragic accidents. On the other hand we have a cautious police response which might minimize the people injured or killed by the causes just discussed but increase the injuries or deaths that result from delays in police response. Which of the two causes the most harm?

As I've said before, my intuition is that a rapid response is the least harmful. I think the policing experts in charge of current policing strategy share that opinion based on current protocols. I understand that you prefer the cautious strategy, but I haven't seen you explain why you think there will be less harm from that strategy.

The police killing an innocent person causes significantly more harm. It is a perversion of justice and societal order. In the long run, it causes far more damage than some people doing during the commission of a crime.

This has been upsetting me about some of what I believe are people raised on the current regime of FAANGesque flattening of society, lot of things have this built in assumption that public services are so unlimited that their cost is not appreciated. Like the gov can be as omnipresent and self sacrificing as a diety.

Not doing due diligence is a legacy of Columbine, where waiting cost lives.


They waited for very long time after many reports of shooting. The ongoing shooting was heard outside. You talk about the change of tactic in case of multiple times reported mass shooting in public building.

It is not nearly the same situation.

In the US many police departments and personnel are under-trained, but no, "the most responsible party" are the human beings doing the swatting, regardless of their age. So if I'm young and "stupid" I can go around murdering people?

The boy who called wolf is an old children’s story for a reason.

What alternative behavior do you suggest?

checking the location of thee caller. If its not coming from somewhere nowhere near the location of the supposed shooting maybe be a little suspicious. 9-1-1 calls are supposed automatic location identification as part of the E-9-1-1 system.

Swatters are obviously hacking the system by finding ways around that like spoofing numbers. This is a problem that will always exist, though the phone system certainly needs to be be made more reliable. But there's not much the cops themselves can do as a policy change. These laws you cite also force police to accept calls from burner phones with no identity. In one case the swatter called the local police's non-emergency number which doesn't go through the reverse lookup. It's basically social engineering in these cases.

which just brings up the question of why the telecom's cant identify where there own customers are. They obviously know otherwise they could delver service so why cant they pass that information on accurately. why is it even possible to fake the location.

Not sending out militarized police teams based on anonymous tips.

(FWIW, I've been swatted before, and live in constant anxiety every since. I don't feel safe.)

To be maximally fair they didn't kill the old guy a heart attack did which might have been unavoidable.

I went googling and found this: A study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has demonstrated that sudden emotional stress can result in reversible heart failure[1]. It goes on "a traumatic event such as a breakup, the death of a loved one, or even the shock of a surprise party can provoke a heart attack in people who don't have heart disease and are otherwise healthy, researchers say". and

"Dr. Wittstein and his research team found that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress by releasing large amounts of adrenalin and other chemicals into the blood stream. These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to those of a typical heart attack: chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure. However, there are no further similarities between "broken heart" syndrome and cardiac arrest. Closer inspection using blood tests and magnetic resonance imaging scans failed to show the typical heart attack signs, such as irreversible muscle damage and elevated levels of certain enzymes."

If that happened, it would have been avoidable; it doesn't necessarily mean he was sickly and this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

(Aside: I wonder if anyone here would think comparable things of the organizers of a surprise party, 16 years after it's published in a medical journal that they can be fatal? What if the birthay person was known to hate surprise parties? Anyone calling for a death penalty or years in prison?)

[1] https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2005/03/sudden-shock-c...

I meant the cops aren't necessarily at fault as the unavoidable stress of such a confrontation might have inevitably ended in a difficult to predict or mitigate health complications.

Swatting has a predictable risk of mortality thus the criminals don't get off morally because their victim died a different way than expected.

> "because their victim died a different way than expected."

I haven't seen a claim that the perpetrators expected the man to die - didn't they want to harass and scare him until he gave up his Twitter handle? If he was dead they'd have no chance of getting access to it, therefore they likely were not planning for him to die, right?

They were ok risking him being killed in order to obtain the expected benefit. If you beat someone killing them is a predictable risk. It constitutes merely a lesser crime in the same category.

I am not agreeable to the claim that minors who called a SWAT raid internationally because of a Twitter account were really forseeing all the possible consequences and rationally deciding they were OK with them. I'm also not okay with you claiming a militarised police force SWAT raid was "unavoidable".

I don't see anywhere people are saying it was actually SWAT or any kind of "raid". It was simply a bunch of cops according to the family members in the video. They did not enter his house, they merely approached it. He appears to live in a rural area.

> "I don't see anywhere people are saying it was actually SWAT or any kind of "raid"."

The article uses this picture: https://static.techspot.com/images2/news/bigimage/2019/03/20...

Google reverse image search for that suggests a search term of "fbi swat team" and first result is a wikipedia link to "FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams". The picture is from the Wikipedia page on swatting which says it is "an FBI SWAT team during training". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatting

Yes it's clearly not a photo of the actual event. Are you complaining that you were misled? or are you suggesting "techbase" uses of stock photos is more authoritative than their own primary sources which I just summarized for you?

You said "I don't see anywhere people are saying it was actually SWAT" and I'm pointing you to where the article implies actual SWAT was involved, with their use of a photo of an actual SWAT team.

Swatting is used to mean calling the authorities with a fake crisis so subject people at the address targeted to risk and inconvenience it has nothing to do with the resulting police response.

If Barney Fife showed up to kindly ask you if you were ok you would have been swatted just not very effectively.

Are we victim blaming now? Is that what we’re doing?

I meant the cops dont apear to be at fault for a change.

Are we being deliberately obtuse in order to inject left-wing buzzwords into situations where they're completely inapplicable? It's that what we're doing?

That's stupid.

If you shoot someone, we don't say that technically the bullet killed them not the person who fired the shot.

That's a false equivalence. If you shoot someone with a gun, it's reasonable to expect them to die. It is not a reasonable expectation that someone will die when you ask them their name and tell them to put down their weapon.

You can reasonably know that shooting a person with a bullet will cause injury or death. Telling them to drop their weapon and surrender does not usually cause injury or death.

I meant the cops might not be at fault

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