Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life, liberty and the happiness of a warm gun?

Our local lunatic scene

A couple of years back Donal Blaney put up a piece on the web. It was the stereotypical juvenile rightist bleat, decrying a Rhode Island school principal's objection to a student choosing to be depicted for the college yearbook complete with body-amrour and weapon:
The humourless principal at Portsmouth High School, Robert Littlefield, has said that the flagrant wielding of a potentially dangerous weapon was a clear violation of school regulations...

What is truly dangerous are the attitudes and actions of men such as Patrick's headteacher, Robert Littlefield. Their zeal in curtailing the rights of otherwise law-abiding people highlights the very worst in the human condition.

It is not Patrick's High School graduation photo that should be removed from his yearbook - it is Robert Littlefield who should be removed from Portsmouth High School and attitudes such as his that should be removed from America's classrooms.
As we all expected, buried in the text is that unoriginal expression:
Surely this is yet another example of political correctness gone mad...
Blaney is, of course, the epitome of the self-regarding "libertarian" Young Tory who cites Enoch Powell on racial topics. Others speak nearly as well of him ("hypocrite, political whore and torture fan") as he does of himself.

Guilty by unfortunate association

The site which gave Blaney space was the alternative mouthpiece of Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome. Then it ran under the title of "Britain and America"; last year it was reborn as "America in the World", launched by David Cameron, and puffed by the Daily Telegraph and by saturnine Harry Phibbs (so no conflict of interest there) in the Daily Mail .

The whole libertarian lot seem fixated on guns:
... the argument about guns is still worth having, and the libertarian case about it is still worth putting, if only as part of spreading libertarianism generally. Just because gun laws aren't about to be relaxed, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be. Whatever the crime rate, relaxing the gun laws would lower it, and not to relax them is wrong, stupid and cruel, to the real victims of crime, namely the victims of crime.
And, as surely as darkest night follows bright, shining morning, the irksome Sean Gabb:
As the old saying goes: "God made men equal, and Smith and Wesson make damn sure it stays that way."

... can you seriously agree with the argument that you should be disarmed, and therefore powerless to defend yourself and your loved ones against the armed street trash who are beginning to turn this country upside down?
The wider world

Today, hearing from Winnenden and Alabama, we await to hear from the likes of these pundits why giving the disturbed guns, that they may shoot up the neighbourhood, and schools in particular, is a good thing.

So, in the meantime, let's have the scorecard for previous school and college shootings (only after painstaking effort, compiling this list, did Malcolm discover a more complete one of all shootings, fatal and less so, though not up-to-date):
  • Barry Loukaitis, Moses Lake, WA; 2 Feb 1996: 3 dead;
  • Thomas Hamilton, Dunblane, Scotland; 13 March 1996: 18 dead;
  • Evan Ramsey, Bethel, AK; 19 Feb 1997: 3 dead;
  • Mohammed Ahman al-Naziri, Sanna, Yemen; March 1997: 8 dead;
  • Luke Woodham, Pear, MS; 1 Oct 1997: 3 dead;
  • Michael Carneal, West Padukah, KY; 1 Dec 1997: 3 dead;
  • Johnson and Golden, Jonesboro, AK; 24 March 1998: 5 dead;
  • Andrew Wurst, Edinboro, PA; 24 April 1994: one dead;
  • Jacob Davis, Fayetteville, TN; 19 May 1998: one dead;
  • Kip Kinkel, Springfield, OR; 21 May 1998: 4 dead;
  • Harris and Klebold, Littleton, CO; 20 April 1999: 15 dead;
  • [Unknown], Taber, Alberta; 28 April, 1999: one dead;
  • Victor Cordova, Deming, NM; 19 Nov 1999: one dead;
  • An unnamed six-year-old, Flint, MI; Leap Year's Day 2000: one dead;
  • [Unknown], Branneberg, Germany; March 2000: one dead, one brain-dead;
  • Darell Ingram, Savannah, GA; 10 March 2000: two dead;
  • Nate Brazall, Lake Worth, FL; 26 May 2000: one dead;
  • [Unknown], Baltimore, MD; 17 January 2001: one dead;
  • [Unknown], Jan, Sweden, 18 Jan 2001: one dead;
  • Charles Williams, Santee, CA; 5 March 2001: two dead;
  • Donald Burt, Gary, IN; 30 March 2001: one dead;
  • Chris Buschbacher, Cary, MN; 12 Nov 2001: one dead (the gunman, after taking two hostages);
  • [Unkown], Freising, Germany; 19 Feb 2002; four dead;
  • Robert Steinhaeuser, Erfurt, Germany; 26 April 2002: 17 dead;
  • Dragoslav Petkovic, Vlasenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina; 29 April 2002: two dead;
  • Robert Flores, Tucson, AZ; 28 Oct 2002: four dead;
  • Four teenagers, New Orleans, LA; 14 April 2003: one dead;
  • James Sheets, Red Lion, PA; 24 April 2003: two dead;
  • John McLaughlin, Cold Spring, MN; 24 Sept 2003: two dead;
  • "Raphael", Carmen de Patagones, Argentina; 28 Sep 2004: three dead;
  • Jeff Weise, Red Lake, MN; 21 Mar 2005: 10 dead;
  • [Unknown], Jacksboro, TN; 8 Nov 2005: one dead;
  • Christopher Williams, Essex, VT; 24 Aug 2006: two dead;
  • Kimveer Gill, Montreal, Canada; 13 Sep 2006: two dead;
  • [Unknown], Bailey, CO; 27 Sep 2006; two dead;
  • [Unknown], Cazenovia, WI; 29 Sep 2006; one dead;
  • Charles Roberts, Nickel Mines, PA; 3 Oct 2006; six dead;
  • Cho Seung-Hui, Blacksburg, VA; 16 April 2007; 33 dead (the current US record);
  • Asa Coon, Cleveland, OH; 10 Oct 2007; one dead;
  • [Unknown], Tuusula, Finland; 7 Nov 2007; 9 dead;
  • [Unknown], Baton Rouge, LA; 8 Feb 2008; three dead;
  • Stephen Kazmierczak, DeKalb, IL; 14 Feb 2008; six dead;
  • [Unknown], Kauhajoki, Finland; 23 Sep 2008; ten dead;
  • [Unknown], Fort Lauderdale, FL; 12 Nov 2008; one dead.
To which we can now add:
  • Tim Kretschmer, Winnenden, Baden-Wurttenberg; 11 Mar 2009; at least sixteen.
Now, wait for it!

True libertarians, at least those who have graduated from effort of colouring-in their Margaret Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan biogs-for-teenies, will have their bedside Ayn Rand book-marked with at least a .38 LadySmith.

Expect a further outburst of their all-purpose solution: armed teachers. Sphere: Related Content


Mr Ecks said...

Thanks for compiling your little list. Now understand if all those killings all happened on the same day and then an equal number happened again the next day and the next, that would have to go on for several THOUSAND years before the total number of victims equalled the number of those butchered by armed state thugs in the 20th Century alone. That does not include those who died in wars--I am just talking of those rounded up and butchered, starved etc,etc ad nauseum by statist scum. You don't seem to have any problem government goons having plenty of firepower though.

Martin said...

Aye, the state are always the real murderers. Always. Ever notice how the first job of a police state is to disarm its victims? On the subject of victims...

Odd how these shooting almost always occur in "no gun areas", where the innocent people are disarmed, the criminals aren't huh?

Why could that be...

Could it be because criminals have no intention of following gun laws?

Could it be because such laws are their best friend, since they know they leave their targets wide open?

Incidently, odd how Germany and Finland have several school shootings despite gun control... huh.

You can't disarm the criminals. Ever. You can only disarm their victims. You are safer in a town with a thousand armed civilians with no criminal intent than you are in a town with 1 armed criminal.

yourcousin said...

The "unknown" from the Bailey shooting was Duane Morrison and he was one of the two fatalities listed. He also sexually assaulted all of the six female hostages he took. I was getting a haircut as it happened and remember the commentators talking about how much the police had learned since Columbine when they stormed the classroom and he killed Emily Keyes.

The "unnamed" six year old from Flint was actually featured in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" and he left her picture outside of Charleston Heston's house when he interviewed him about why Heston held an NRA rally in Flint after her death. I appreciated the fact that Moore dug deeper in this particular instance and showed how economic circumstances played a large role in what appears to have been an accidental shooting.

As for the libretarian commenters here. Somalia lacks a functioning government of any kind and is awash with firearms. Somehow I don't think that it's working out so well for them, but those of you who feel that no government and guns are all you need are more than welcome to emigrate and show them how its done.

I speak as someone who owns politically "incorrect" firearms whose only reasonable use would be against other human beings. And
as a hunter I can't think of a reasonable use for an assault rifle when hunting big game or fowl of one sort or another.

You are safer in a town with a thousand armed civilians with no criminal intent than you are in a town with 1 armed criminal

Jesus wept when he read such utter bullshit. I bet that if you looked up gun ownersihp for Samson, Alabama (which you would be able to do if certain anti-2nd Amendment proposals pass) you would find that gun ownership is well above national average in the area and yet no one was able to "take out" the shooter in his rampage.

The issue is not "statist thugs", or the simplfication of the citizenry divided up between those with criminal intent, and those without criminal intent. The Virginia Tech shootings led to the passing of a bill with the support of the both Democrats and the NRA which would intensify background checks for things such as histories of mental illness which would prohibit individuals from purchasing firearms. Indeed Seung-Hui Cho was technically prohibited from purchasing the firearms he used in the massacre but due to technical failings he was able to purchase the firearms. It is largely an issue of mental health, community versus alienation, ignorance versus knowledge, and common sense versus rhetoric.

I look at things like the nine year old who killed himself shooting an uzi at a gun show and think why? My father and I talked about it and he was adament that he would never let me handle such a weapon at that age (I started shooting at five, maybe six years old). The death of community and common sense are as much at fault for these things as are guns. Indeed, I'm fond of the bumper sticker which states, "Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun, ban cars not guns". Childish I know but accurate. We should acknowledge that guns are here to stay and that we should start appreciating the factors which contribute to these massacres (mental health issues, alienation, bad economy etc) instead of just blaming guns.

Martin said...

"We should acknowledge that guns are here to stay and that we should start appreciating the factors which contribute to these massacres (mental health issues, alienation, bad economy etc) instead of just blaming guns."

Basically my point. Guns are here to stay.
So why the hell are you advocating removing them from those that need them, thus leaving them in the hands of those that abuse them? I can't see where we're actually in disagreement in this particular area.

Regards Somalia, I'm not an anarchist. I do believe a stable government is necessary, but one that sticks to its role.

As for the "1000 to 1" scenario, you fail to mention HOW those non-criminals having guns would make them a threat to me per se, without me threateninng them first.

yourcousin said...

We disagree because there is a difference between saying,

"Guns are here to stay, end of conversation. Yea guns."


"Guns are here to stay so lets focus on common sense control and other issues that contribute to these massacres."

There is a large difference between the two. Basically it comes back to my point about putting reason above rhetoric.

why the hell are you advocating removing them from those that need them?

What I am advocating is approaching a debate with a proper tone of respect and approaching an issue as complicated as this with the ability to see nuance. The problem with the 1000-1 argument you propound is that until they went off the deep end the killers were most often part of your non-criminal element. Also being that I have known many amongst the "criminal element" at various times in my life I don't feel that even convicted felons always present that much of a threat to me. So your paradigm is extremely flawed and simplistic. Because gun ownership does not exist in a vacuum or in a world as simple as guns=good and government control=bad. All the things I mentioned in my last post play important roles and need to be taken into account when dealing with gun violence. Death of community, de-industrialiaization and the casualization of the workforce, the increase in individual alienation, and the ever increasing rate of obesity and mental illness all play a role in this debate as well as the ever polarizing rhetoric of the most vocal gun rights advocates. All have a part in this, (unfortunately) mostly American problem.

Also please stop the police state nonsense. If your sole barometer of a police state is taking guns away then you miss the point of liberty. I will acknowledge that the bill currently proposed in the House right now about registering all firearms makes me nervous and I would not comply if it did pass but I feel that liberty and the defence of our 2nd Amendment rights are far too important to play bullshit word games with, especially when those games are being played to avoid the real issues.

Angry Exile said...

...we await to hear ... why giving the disturbed guns, that they may shoot up the neighbourhood, and schools in particular, is a good thing.

Giving them guns? Who is talking about giving disturbed people guns? It's simply accepting that you can't legislate for insanity and it's a waste of time trying, and of course that roughly 99.9% of people can be trusted to keep guns and do no harm with them. If you say that guns must be banned because of what a very small number of people, who I'd agree should be kept away from guns, might do with them you might as well demand everybody's car keys. After all, drunk drivers are far more common and I suspect they cause more deaths. Would you give your car up Malcolm? It might make a few families sleep more soundly at night. Of course not, and nor should you. Their drunk driver/car phobia is their problem not yours, and as long as you continue to drive around harming no one you should keep your car. Perhaps you're worried about gun theft (e.g. Kretschmer taking his father's guns, presumably without permission) but how would it be any different if a car was taken without consent and used to play Death Race 2000?

And it's not just cars. Frankly if I went off my rocker and decided to cause as much destruction, death and mayhem as I could I'd leave the guns at home. Compared to what anyone could do as long as they've got access to the internet, diesel fuel and fertilzer guns look rather tame. Going to restrict those items as well? Well how about unleaded? I could be sitting here surrounded by home made Molotovs for all you know. What about gas cylinders? The headcases who attacked that airport showed what could be done, and you can by the things all over Australia. Have I got a wagon full of gas cylinders with kitchen knives gaffa taped to them parked outside? Well, no. obviously I haven't and probably no one else here has either. But should we ban barbie cylinders, petrol, diesel and fertilzer because of what might happen if I or anyone else went nuts and realized that we could do so much more damage without guns than with them? That's ignoring the fact that anyone who really wants a gun can get one. You just have to be prepared to break the law, and if you're already planning to break the law about killing people (and probably intend ultimately to kill yourself) I think it's a safe assumption that you'd be prepared to break the law to get a gun if you really wanted one. But as I say, why bother when you can go to petrol stations and hardware stores instead?

It seems to me that the choice is to ban things that can be used to kill and maim, which is practically everything, or try to identify those that want to kill and maim and keeping them away from all the means, not just guns, for them to act on it. Or we could choose the UK option - ban one class of things that psychos can use, and then let all the psychos out and hope both that they all remember to take their medication and don't think to Google "ANFO". It might make the Daily Wail readers think that the country is safer, but in reality they're safe only until someone flips his lid and chooses bombs instead of bullets.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

I've been busy of late; and missed the fun.

First, recapitulate to my original point. It was that lethal machinery and schools do not easily mix. Now, how do we keep them apart?

Second, it transpires that Herr Kretschmer, the suicidal teenage killer's father owned an arsenal of guns: well into double figures. At some point there the "need' for a weapon has become a fetish. If a gun is just another tool, would I be considered odd if I equipped myself with, say, a dozen washing-machines, polishing them and cleaning them regularly? And I don't need a licence for a washing-machine in any jurisdiction that comes to mind.

There are 89 guns for every hundred Americans. Overkill, perhaps? Certainly 30,000 deaths a year seems excessive: before the suicide-peddlers shoot in, going on 12,500 of those are homicides, and another 1250 or so "accidental" shootings. If I left a naked high-voltage cable lying around, would that allow me to plead "accident"?

By comparison, the UK has one of the strictest gun-control regimes in the world. Agreed, that does not eliminate gun-crime and killing, because no free society can be hermetically sealed. Last year the UK (population 60M) managed just 42 gun-related deaths. Repeat: 42. A majority of those killings were in four police districts (London, Liverpool, Manchester and the Birmingham area), where black kids have been indoctrinated into drugs-and-guns sub-culture.

Now tell me again why we Brits are not "free" because we don't have a Smith & Wesson in every unlocked bedside drawer (in the Kretschmer case, of course, it was a Beretta). Remind me how much of a serf I am because it takes us 700+ years to match the annual attrition rate of the US. Assure me that I am yearning to be free to exercise Second Amendment rights in a country where the norm is unarmed police and security.

yourcousin said...

The answer to most of those questions is context and history.

Guns and schools don't mix, period.

If I left a naked high-voltage cable lying around, would that allow me to plead "accident"?

If you can think of some reasonable use for the naked high-voltage cable, then yes. Again though, context. If the firearms are normally locked up and secure but are out because say, you're going on a hunting trip or to the range then some extenuating circumstances could apply. Firearms should never be left around, especially in a family environment.

As to whether or not you're free. Well you still have a Monarch and an unelected upper house of parliament for what it's worth.

My main problem with your critique of gun ownership (specifically the numbers game)is that it's based upon a falsity which would compare two societies as if they had travelled upon parallel paths for their entire (or even a majority) of their respective histories. They haven't, you know they haven't and yet you persist in something that's as illogical as Bush's plan for establishing Democracy in Iraq.

And for all of your musings you still haven't offered up any substanative points on how to prevent school violence other than to say, "get rid of guns" which while possibly well intentioned is a non starter for multiple reasons.


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