Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Gun Violence: Sober Analysis

Amid all the tears and concern (and ratings boosts) that the Sandy Hook killing spree has unleashed on the public, I have seen very little in the way of cold hard analysis on the facts surrounding the case. I have a theory about that but I won't go into it here. What I will do is repeat what I've said many many times: This is not a "gun" issue. It is a person issue.

On the recent airing of This Week one of the commentators pointed out that the young man in this case went for the automatic weapons and not the hunting rifles. This, according to him, was proof that the issue is the gun. No one bothered to ask this fellow whether in the absence of said automatic weapons would the shooter have decided to settle on the hunting gun.

It's an obvious question, but was never asked. The reason is clear, there is a call from certain segments of the society to have a ban on assault weapons. I'm not going to go into whether that is a good or bad idea. What is important is that when folks are so focused on their pet concern, they fail to think through on the actual subject at hand.

I remind people that guns have not killed a single person. Not a one. Every person who has been shot has either had someone point a gun at them and pull the trigger, been hit by a stray bullet fired by a person. Shot themselves or dropped a gun they were handling or someone else was handling.

See the pattern emerging here? Guns are inanimate objects. They can do nothing without the person. Therefore the problem is not the gun but the person.

I've been reading Better Angels of Our Nature which makes it pretty clear that America, of all the "Western" countries is the most violent. Let's examine this piece from the BBC from back in 2001:

Guns are deeply rooted within Swiss culture - but the gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept. The country has a population of six million, but there are estimated to be at least two million publicly-owned firearms, including about 600,000 automatic rifles and 500,000 pistols.
A "deep" gun culture. one third of the population has arms and there was a gun crime rate so low there weren't statistics kept.
Few restrictions In addition to the government-provided arms, there are few restrictions on buying weapons. Some cantons restrict the carrying of firearms - others do not. The government even sells off surplus weaponry to the general public when new equipment is introduced. Guns and shooting are popular national pastimes. More than 200,000 Swiss attend national annual marksmanship competitions.
Wait. The government sells weapons to the public? There are few restrictions on buying weapons? I thought the "problem" was availability. According to every talking head on TV for the past couple of days, the entire problem is the availability of guns. If this theory is so iron clad why does Switzerland have such a low violent crime rate?
Despite the lack of rigid gun laws, firearms are strictly connected to a sense of collective responsibility.

[Note: Switzerland did pass a referendum requiring citizens to keep ammunition at "approved government facilities" after a successful push by "lefist" groups. The original plan was to strip all guns from citizens]

Ahhh... This takes us back to the entire reason for the original second amendment to the US Constitution. Gun ownership and use was largely an expected thing of men (and some women) at the time of the Constitution's creation. It's not as if gun violence was unknown to the founders. Gun violence, knife violence, etc. was well known and an accepted risk and danger of a free society. That was in addition to the fact that any citizen could up and form or join a militia for the purposes of defense (or for us black folks...lynch mobs). Therefore it is clear that the problem of "gun violence" in America is American culture. Better put and amply demonstrated in Better Angels of Our Nature (and elsewhere) the "cultures" in America. A recent study by Harvard professors Don Kates and Gary Mause shows the following:

Between 1998‐2004 (the lat‐ est figure available for Russia), Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates. Similar murder rates also characterize the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and various other now‐independent European nations of the former U.S.S.R....

Table 1 shows many other developed nations (e.g., Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Denmark) with high rates of gun ownership. These countries, however, have murder rates as low or lower than many devel‐ oped nations in which gun ownership is much rarer. For example, Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002....

“data on fire‐ arms ownership by constabulary area in England,” like data from the United States, show “a negative correlation,”10 that is, “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are high‐ est.”11 Many different data sets from various kinds of sources are summarized as follows by the leading text: [T]here is no consistent significant positive association be‐ tween gun ownership levels and violence rates: across (1) time within the United States, (2) U.S. cities, (3) counties within Illinois, (4) country‐sized areas like England, U.S. states, (5) regions of the United States, (6) nations, or (7) population subgroups . . . .12

So let us dispense with the popular position that it is the guns and gun ownership that is the driver to gun violence. There is one point that is entirely true that needs to be admitted though. Guns do allow people who are too chicken shit to attack and kill someone with their bare hands the ability to kill with minimal risk to themselves. Suicide killers do not fall into that category. They know they will be caught and that they likely will be killed during or after their spree. Which brings me to the next point.

Another commentator in This Week pointed out that he owns a gun and has a conceal carry permit. We must understand that this recent shooter used a legally procured gun. This was not a case of an illegal gun (which Bloomberg will likely not mention). This underscores the fact that one does not know who will commit a crime. We do not know whether tomorrow, this individual on This Week will flip out because he caught his wife or girlfriend with another man and decide to shoot up her family. There is no knowing who will flip out or when. We only know that someone will flip out at some point in the future.

So we could have an assault weapons ban. Surely those who simply collect would have to go without even though most of them pose no threat to anyone. The criminals in gangs who want assault rifles will get them and use them. Suicide killers with enough patience will procure one regardless of legality and potential for punishment because they don't plan on sticking around.

Lastly allow me to ask one question that I haven't even heard asked: What if the administrators in that building were armed? How far could he have gotten if like the Swiss, every person in that building was qualified to shoot and owned a gun and had one concealed? Surely less lives would have been lost had one of the many teachers and administrators had a gun and had shot back (or at) the shooter. Why are "we" the public OK with being collectively helpless when one of those unstable people show up?