The Book!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Roseburg and Guns



The deadly English longbow. For national defense, every English freeman was drilled in its use. It could take down a knight on horseback. Result: human equality.


Another mass shooting in the US, in Oregon, and another general call for tougher laws on gun control.

First point: appearances to the contrary, and for what it is worth, mass shootings in the US are not becoming more common. They are becoming less common. Nor are there actually more mass shootings in the US than in other developed naions. Apparently, there have been more proportionate to population in Finland and Norway.

Second point: tougher control of guns will probably do little to prevent mass killings. If it amounts to anything less than banning all guns, the killers will just adapt accordingly; they will use a different model. Security checks are of slight use; they will only catch previous offenders, who will then, being criminals, probably acquire what they want on the black market. As for the mentally ill, we are totally incapable of predicting who is dangerous and who is not. Banning all guns would obviously be unconstitutional in the US, even if desirable.

Nor would banning guns necessarily reduce mass killings. How many people were killed on 9-11? How many guns were used? How about at the Boston Marathon? How about suicide bombers? Why wouldn't the method simply adjust?

Third point: banning guns is not desirable. The Second Amendment exists because an unarmed citizenry is vulnerable to an oppressive government. The historical evidence is plain that a yeomanry armed with the longbow, effective against armoured men on horseback, was the critical factor in the development of human rights and then democracy in England. From there, the British right to bear arms, enshrined in the British as well as the US Bill of Rights, spread it throughout the Anglosphere. The right to bear arms was an important protection for blacks in the South in quite recent years.

Fourth point: if we want to reduce mass shootings, there is one simple thing we could do that probably would be rather effective. Ban publication of the name of the shooter, or his or her photograph, or any details that would allow him or her to be identified by the public. The public has no legitimate need to know these details; they probably have little interest. This would withdraw the single strongest motive behind the killings: the chance at fame.

Fifth point: it is no coincidence that these mass shootings always take place in advertised “gun free zones.” Such places are a natural magnet to mass killers. Would you post a sign on your front lawn saying “no guns in this house”? Why not “no dangerous dogs, no alarms, and doors are unlocked”? I suggest that any institution that enforces such a “gun-free” policy is implicitly taking responsibility for protecting the safety of all on the premises. If someone gets shot in a “gun-free zone,” they or their family should be able to sue the institution. Big time.

A recent Rolling Stone article claims, more or less against this, that no mass shooting has actually been stopped by a civilian bearing arms in the last thirty years.

Eh? Canadians will immediately want to say, “but what about Kevin Vickers?” The assault on Parliament, of course, like the recent incident on a train in France, happened outside the US, and so will not show in US statistics. But they also would not appear for another reason: something is called a “mass shooting” when at least four or five people are killed. When there is a civilian nearby with a gun, things are unlikely to go this far, and they did not in either of those cases. Rolling Stone's evidence actually works against its point, and shows what a disaster gun free zones really are. For what it's worth, BuzzFeed cites a variety of other cases in recent years where armed civilians prevented mass killings.

Two action items, then: ban all publicity for the killers, and put the kibosh on gun-free zones.

By contrast, just calling for more gun control is revoltingly cynical.


No comments: