Quote of the Day: You Can’t Predict Spree Killings So . . . Edition

MA rep Paul Heroux (courtesy Google+)

“We need to realize that high-profile events are high-profile because they are unlikely. And trying to stop an unlikely event is very difficult if not impossible. Predicting a school shooting or when someone who has or had a mental illness is going to shoot someone is a bit like predicting where lightning is going to strike the ground. There are some generic indicators but little that can act as an actual alarm bell.” – Massachusetts State Rep Paul Heroux, In the Gun Debate, Mental Illness Doesn’t Predict Dangerousness [via huffingtonpost.com]


  1. avatar Illinois Minion says:

    Wow. A politician speaking against the tide of how to disqualify more people form owning guns. And from the NE no less? Bloomie will be most appalled.

  2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

    I imagine the HuPo regulars are hyperventilating to beat the band in the comments to THAT article.

  3. avatar Michael Nieto says:

    Another day another east coast politician spewing leftist drivel

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Have you actually read some of his articles?

      He may well not be perfect, but on the scale from “Makes Sense” to “Total Dipsh1t,” he’s closer to the middle than

      (a) Most leftist politicians
      (b) Most HuPo writers

      I invite you to read this…


      1. avatar michael nieto says:

        I don’t read the huffpo it is a waste of time and you are fooling yourself if u think this politician has any interest in protecting the second amendment

        1. avatar Howdy says:

          So you don’t know. You prefer prejudice over facts. Those who favor firearm restrictions and disarmament are doing this very thing. I prefer not to be lumped in with that type of thinking.

        2. avatar Pascal says:

          I highly recommend that you take the time to read the link. Perhaps your mind will be changed. This person does not fit into the mold you think he does. You know, go out of your echo chamber this one time you will be surprised.

        3. avatar paulWTAMU says:

          so you’re not willing to consider data points that alter preconcived notions? Nice to know you’re not actually up for discussions.

        4. avatar KB Dave says:

          Well it’s good to see that you’re as open to other people’s opinions and points of view as most liberals. Stay ignorant, buddy.

      2. avatar Pascal says:

        I took the time to read that link. Good read, he does seem very logical in his thinking. I wish more politicians would do the same.

        It is interesting how he “redefines” progressive. I do not believe many who believe themselves to be “progressive” would agree with him however.

        1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

          Progressive is a catch-all buzzword. A lot of no/low-information types will pull the lever just seeing “progressive.” This guy is a New England Republican; meaning he’s not quite as bad as it could be, but certainly not as good as you’d expect (that’s the Republican part btw.)

          I can respect somebody sticking to their guns, even if they don’t holster them where I do. I mean, he could be a Kennedy, amirite?

      3. avatar Matt Richardson says:

        Where does he fit in contrast with Thom Tillis?

    2. avatar BlinkyPete says:

      How is this leftist drivel? I’m not familiar with the rest of his work, but what he’s saying here doesn’t strike me as partisan speak.

  4. avatar dh34 says:

    Bloomie’s grandstanding in Israel right now. He’s trying to solve the gun violence epidemic in Gaza through his new group Imams Demand Action for Sensible Gun Laws in the Middle East

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Very good ^

    2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Perhaps instead of a land invasion the Israelis should have tried a missile buy back program. Give away a $200 gift card to Walmart, no questions asked.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        That’s Waleedmart, in that part of the world.

        1. avatar dh34 says:

          Notice to Waleedmart Customers:

          Due to the current high demand for ammunition, in order to best serve all of our customers, purchasers are limited to three rockets and three boxes of 7.62x39mm cartridges per day. Shukran.

        2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          Well, that’s better than the price gouging on missiles over at CheaperThanDirtyJoos.

    3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:


      Good show.

  5. avatar Ted says:

    Here is the reply I wanted to leave on the site, but I don’t want a Google + or Facebook profile:

    “The government knew the exact location of Adam Lanza’s guns. They were all legally registered and owned.

    You may want to actually think about the implications of your registration idea before you propose it as a solution.

    Most of the gun deaths in this country are done by the hands of poor urban youths and suicides. In neither case are guns the cause.”

  6. avatar GReg says:

    OR MAYBE you could actually listen to what the mass shooters are saying and actually read their diaries.
    Really, they all said they were going to and wrote extensively about it. Most were known by law enforcement to be wackos. How about we stop them by listening to their threats and take them seriously. MAYBE?

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      You make a fair point, but it does suffer from the 20/20 Hindsight syndrome. You have a built-in selection bias in your sample in that you already know that they’ve done something atrocious.

      The question becomes: how many people say “crazy things” and DON’T follow-up with a spree killing?

      An example by way of analogy:

      A few years ago, I read a non-fiction book about a shipwreck that killed the entire crew aboard. In the book, a big deal was made about the nightmares the Captain’s wife was supposedly having at the very time he was dying..stuff like him saying, “Don’t worry about me” as he sank into the depths. She claimed to have had others on subsequent days.

      Even if we take her at her word and assume she’s not making it up about the dreams, that the dreams really happened and that she remembered them in that level of detail, we are left with the question how many times did she have frightening dreams in which her husband died at sea but he did NOT die in real life?

      In the general population, how many nightmares DON’T come true?

      The book’s author was sensationalizing on the wife’s dreams, ascribing significance to them that was wholly unscientific.

      We run the same risk looking at “data” about spree killers AFTER we know they are spree killers.

      The bottom line is that these events are so rare that they (thankfully) don’t happen often enough for us to draw meaningful conclusions about what causes them.

      Don’t let the fact that they are sensationalized in the media be mistaken for “data” of scientific significance. “Pre-Crime” is science fiction, and should remain so.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      People make ideal threats everyday in this country…

      My wife works with children and teens with problem behavior and mental disorders, she says everyday kids and teens in her office my threats at the staff, but very few even attempt to act upon those threats.

      Hell, I dated a girl in HS, for a very short time, who had a horrible chemical imbalance and threatened to kill herself at least once a week.

      I looked her up online, but didn’t contact her, a few years ago out of curiousity, she’s still alive. Never made good on the threats.

      People talk sh^t all the time, but usually never do even a faction of what they claim to want to do.

      1. avatar GReg says:

        Whether they act on them or not you have to take it seriously when, in the case of the Aurora shoointg, he said he was going to dress up like batman and shoot folks. Then did.
        The thing is, do they have the will? Yes or no. Do they have the ability? Yes or no. Have they acted out in violence in the past? Yes or no.
        In every case there are indicators. Everyone that knew them said they were not surprised by the shootings. Well, damn, maybe say something before hand?

        1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          Sorry, but I think you are still missing the key point. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of people that say crazy crap follow through with it.

          You cannot predict behavior. The above quote is correct: it’s like trying to predict where lightning will strike.

          You can ascribe importance to what the CO shooter said before he acted because you already know the outcome. That’s NOT forecasting behavior; it’s hindsight.

          Are you familiar with the term “backcasting?” It’s a model testing method in which you test your ‘forecasting’ model with previous data for which you know the outcome. Stock pickers use it, hurricane forecasters use, and others do as well, I’m sure.

          So…go back to the year prior to the Aurora shooting, collect ALL data you can find on EVERY crazy threatening thing everyone in the country made, and test your forecasting model?

          I can guess your model would perform, and if my guess is even close (to within a couple of orders of magnitude), it’s not good enough to jail people or deny their rights.

        2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          It’s easy to Monday morning QB once the act has already been committed.

  7. avatar Narcoossee says:

    Beware the argument that this just proves that ALL guns must be banned, because anything could happen at anytime,and it must be done to protect the children?

  8. avatar Gene says:

    “We need to realize that high-profile events are high-profile because they are unlikely.”

    Wrong – high profile relates to the overall importance placed upon the event by both media and as well as the consumers (or product as consumers have become). Though, I suspect it could be argued that the consumers could have negligible effect, making it entirely push.

  9. avatar Shire-man says:

    The whole “beware the mentally ill” card was a dangerous one for the anti’s to play. It’s fun and games to refer to gun owners are extremists, crazy, paranoid, dangerous, etc…. but when they start calling out people with real illness these things the typical anti base of lefties starts to balk and drop support.

    They’ve become so narrowly focused on attacking guns that their other values are taking a back seat. Compassion and equality would be replaced by scarlet letters and institutionalization by the allegedly tolerant and caring left if it only meant they could win their war on guns.

  10. avatar Alan Rose says:

    The next logical statement:

    “Therefore we have little more than a prepared reaction to such tragedies, and that reaction should be overwhelming fire from armed citizens.”

  11. avatar John B says:

    The gun control/elimination argument is just one of a few examples of schizophrenia in the political sphere.

    Proponents of gun control/gun rights elimination say “guns kill”, “people with guns kill”, “people are killed by/with guns” and draw the simple conclusion; “eliminate guns, eliminate gun deaths”.

    BUT, they never extend that argument to a whole host of other inanimate objects like cars, knives, baseball bats, pneumatic nailers, ladders, airplanes ad infinitum..all of which have been used, by people to kill other people.

    There is zero logic in the argument and trying to argue the point is like trying to fish with smooth shank stainless steel, barbless “hook”.

  12. avatar Pantera Vazquez says:

    “since one cannot predict spree killings, the rational thing to do is get rid of ALL guns…..” (/Sarc)

  13. avatar BlinkyPete says:

    I don’t know where this guy from anything but what he’s said here. Maybe I disagree with him on everything he’s ever said until now, but he’s absolutely right. It’s really easy to point at someone who just murdered a dozen innocent people and say “he’s mentally ill!”. It’s impossible to pick that same person out of 50 million mentally ill people before he actually does it.

    Just remember that gun bans aren’t the only emotional and illogical reactionary measures that pop up after massacres. Targeting the mentally ill is just as bad.

  14. avatar DavyJones says:

    “Mental Illness Doesnt Predict Dangerousness”, im goin to disagree, however, but personally i think the degree to which somebody is mentally ill is a good a good indicator to said individuals capability to carry out a violent act. If that makes sense.

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      The problem is “mental illness” is far too broad a stroke. It can mean anything from “I feel uncomfortable if the cans in my cupboard are not arranged alphabetically” to “I see demons telling me to kill puppies” and all sorts of other possibilities.

      “Mental illness” does not equate with violent behavior or even violent tendencies. If “psychology” were an exact thing that could predict human behavior, we WOULD have less violence and probably a far lower divorce rate to boot.

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        JR, you’re spot on.

        I’m neurotic about how the shopping cart is organized while grocery shopping, to the point of my wife just let me put the items into the cart.

        I can’t explain why, but I’m fanatically about it. I don’t like the cart to be unorganized.

        By the broad bush term “mental disorders”, technically speaking, that can be defined as one.

        Everyone wants to coulda-shoulda things to death, but you just can’t, it’s impossible.

  15. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    I guess I’d have to agree with the quote. The question is, how do you deal with that reality? Do you ban guns or do you arm up? Experience tells us that arming up works and banning guns doesn’t.

  16. avatar Jake says:

    You can’t predict it? Sounds like a really good case for preparedness. I like the XD(m), personally.

    1. avatar BlinkyPete says:

      This. I don’t want more cops. I don’t want armed guards. I don’t want schools built like prisons. I just want armed me and my peers. The evidence is pretty conclusive that mass murders are less deadly when people intervene, and logic tells me it’s easier to intervene with a gun in hand.

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    How the heck did this pass muster at huffpoo? Yeah click the link before you make ignorant comments. Look for rep. Heroux to be banned. Can’t have aberrant viewpoints can we?

  18. avatar A-Rod says:

    “…like predicting where lightning is going to strike the ground.” Right, so to take the guess work out of it we erect things called Lightning Rods. The problem is that we erect lightning rods but call them ‘Gun Free Zones’. These GFZ are schools, movie theaters and restaurants but they have made us no safer. In either case as a lightning rod or GFZ the result is to encourage the occurrence.

  19. avatar A-Rod says:

    Micheal Bloomberg just tweeted “Safely landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv – here to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”

    Wow, I wish he felt the same way about the average American. Maybe he should stay in Israel.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      It would seem that he feels that way about governments, not individuals. The government has to have a monopoly on power in order to “protect” its citizens.

  20. avatar Ralph says:

    He’s a MA politician, so no matter what he’s talking about, he’s talking about banning guns.

    The only reason that the gun laws in MA aren’t worse than England’s is backdoor lobbying by Smith & Wesson. If S&W were to pull out of Springfield, the town would be in the crapper even deeper than it is now.

  21. avatar Jus Bill says:

    I can’t believe the Massachusetts Democratic Machine actually allowed this guy to run, much less be elected. And to be a regular writer for HuffPo? WOW!


    Everyday Work:
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  22. avatar 5Spot says:

    Jeff Daniels is an activist?

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