The Newtown Go-Around

Teacher

Heroic teacher Victoria Leigh Soto. Remember her.

Another day, another mass shooting in America. Yet again the rest of the world looks on with blank incomprehension as America ‘wrestles’ with the moral quandry of whether to make it harder for people who snap to gun down masses of their fellow citizens or, in this case, innocent children.

Is there any point me adding my voice to this debate? It’s already going the same way that it always does and it’s massively dispiriting to see the same old rhetoric trotted out yet again. Though I do sense a greater level of outrage and purpose in what passes for the American left I suspect tempers and resolve will fail again, there’ll be some tinkering around the edges of the law and then the same thing will happen again.

It’s all so depressingly familiar. The catchphrases, the rationalisations (not that they’re rational). ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. ‘The teachers should have been armed’. ‘Right to bear arms!’. ‘This happens elsewhere’. Even ‘It’s a price worth paying for freedom’.

As I’ve intimated before on this blog there are two different kinds of freedom, freedom from and freedom to. For me, a person’s right to life (freedom from harm) definitely outweighs the gun owner’s right to own one.

Under any sot of examination beyond the surface all the excuses and justifications fall apart. You can find that out easily enough yourself, there’s no shortage of statistical analyses doing the rounds.

It is true that gun ownership is not the whole of the problem, there is also the culture surrounding guns, their fetishisation, their worship. Properly controlling the sale, possession and access to guns is a good first step in fixing that cultural issue.

Above all, America needs to have a rational debate on the issue and come to a level of agreed upon change to rebalance these priorities for the 21st century, rather than the 18th.

As we’ve seen with this recent election, with the creationism debate that still rages in American schools and now, with the blame game going around again, America doesn’t seem capable of having a rational debate whether in the public square or in the more rarefied heights of political offices.

Until leaders choose to lead and educate, to risk their popularity to do what’s right and to change people’s minds, nothing is going to change and even an ocean away that makes me sick to my stomach.

This is going to keep happening.

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16 responses to “The Newtown Go-Around

  1. The trouble is not guns, it is people willing to kill others. He could have killed people with a knife or poison or a car. Limiting access to things which are potentially dangerous does not stop criminals nor the criminally insane.

    Lets say that they curb handguns, then hunting guns will get used. Lets say they eliminate gun ownership, knives will get used. The problem is not that there is dangerous tools available, but that there are crazy people who will kill others in the easiest manner available to them. If guns were the problem there would be many more instances to demonstrate this. The fact is that almost all people are respectful of weapons and the damage that they can do. There will always be tragedies of an accidental nature, but limiting access to weapons will not stop criminals or the criminally insane. This guy was denied when he tried to purchase a gun apparently. He broke the law to get one it would appear. If you make laws to limit gun ownership further it would not have stopped him.

    Making schools a gun free zone simply makes them targets for those that don’t wish to be shot back at. Guns don’t kill people, people do. So why do these people choose to kill other people?

    The real problem is not guns. Look at serial killers and mass murderers. They are almost always white males of a given age range. There has to be a reason for that. That is what needs investigating. There has to be a clue in that.

    It is not possible to make all of society safe for children. Broken bones, car accidents, falling off ladders, falling in the shower, tripping on the sidewalk, and many other ways that people can get injured and killed. We cannot eliminate every danger. Education is the right way to handle this. Education about guns. Education about how to determine when someone might be close or actually dangerous to others. America is currently trying to make all airports ‘safe’ and it’s cost billions of dollars and hasn’t done a damn thing to make the country safer. America has spent billions of dollars trying to protect its citizens from drugs – that has been the most expensive failure in human history if you ask me. It not only doesn’t work, but it has fueled violence and killings in South American countries.

    Prohibition does not work. Ever. Not for alcohol, not for drugs, not for sex, not for guns, not for murder, not for theft and on and on. Education is the only way to make measurable and lasting changes. It is not illegal to protect yourself with deadly force. It is illegal to kill people, no matter what means you use. Further gun control will only hinder/restrict those that are within the law. It will NOT stop criminals from doing criminal things. Crazy people will be crazy no matter what laws you enact. There is no changing that. Anyone who thinks that gun control will fix this problem truly doesn’t understand the problem, at all.

    • Same old same old predictable rationalisations etc talked about before. One need only look at the rest of the world to see that limiting access to guns does indeed have a dramatic effect on gun related murders and suicides. Australia being perhaps the most telling before/after example that there is.

      It’s a lot harder to stab 27+ people to death than it is to gun them down. Yes, crazy people will always blah blah blah but we can make it harder for them and a big step in correcting the gun culture that also contributes.

      Gun control does work, all around the western democracies, without imperilling their freedom. America no longer has an excuse, even the ones you spell out above which is ‘gun apologetics’, frankly.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

      The statistics are clear. As with socialised healthcare and creationism Vs evolution the answer is crystal fucking clear but ideology blinds people.

      • And you address the specific problem of mass murders with generalized gun/murder statistics…. Apple, meet orange. It’s not the same thing. That is comparing organized crime to candy theft by 10 year olds.

        You might think those statistics are clear, but they do not expose or address the underlying problems for why guns are used. No, this is not gun apologetics. There is no single one size fits all answer and your pretense that there is one is foolishness of a very dangerous kind.

        Your argument addresses only guns, not the reasons they are used nor why people choose to kill in the first place. Your attitude is not about fixing the problem, it’s all about thinking you can limit the damage by keeping ‘what you think is dangerous’ out of the hands of others. Prohibition does NOT work. You’re an idiot if you think it will.

      • And yet those countries with stricter gun control do not have anything like the problems the US does. Yes there are underlying problems as well but that’s no excuse to retain a peculiar spin on an amendment that doesn’t say what people think it does. Controlling the weapons does minimise the problem and – in the US – would go some way to addressing the cultural problem. No more excuses.

      • Do those countries have the same volume of citizens as the US? You are still ignoring the ‘real’ underlying problems in favor of a stupid knee jerk reaction. What you are advocating for does not minimize the problem, it minimizes the final outcome. Confusing the two is dangerously stupid. You are advocating for better control of fighting rather than examine the issue of why people fight in the first place. Get over it. Controling guns will not stop people from being crazy. It won’t stop them from being angry, it will stop nothing… only change the way in which such anger and craziness will be realized.

        You are not advocating for education and helping people that need it, you simply want to take away the sharp instruments from them.. Well, I’m sure they appreciate that. They will ignore it like all the laws they ignored to be a serial killer or mass murderer. Your idea does not punish the guilty nor prevent them from committing attrocities in the future.

      • Stats are proportional so population size isn’t a factor. The USA is particularly murderous even accounting for that. This is not a knee jerk reaction given that it’s been held by many people for a very long time. All these other aspects are also important but while those are being investigated there is something that genuinely does make a big difference and that’s control.

        It doesn’t stop people being crazy but it makes it much harder for them to massacre large numbers of people. It’s also a first step in a society saying ‘This isn’t right’.

      • Stop thinking that you can control people and start realizing that peopel are as they are. It’s fucking stupid to think you can regulate in law that everyone shall be good… it’s really fucking stupid. Do you have no clue at all how people are? Do you not know the ocean of stupid that we live in? Are you so naieve that you think a law will fix this? Wake the fuck up.

  2. “For me, a person’s right to life (freedom from harm) definitely outweighs the gun owner’s right to own one.”

    How does one person’s freedom from harm outweigh (or even is relevant to) the right of another person to own a gun if that gun owner doesn’t harm that person (or anybody else) with it? This argument only makes sense if you are arguing all gun owners are automatically murderers.

      • The concept of rights applies to specific individuals, rights are not the same as laws and regulations for they are tools. The right not to be harmed. The right not to have your gun taken away from you, or being forcibly prevented from acquiring one. In order to use one right to override the rights of another specific person you have to establish that the specific person whose right you are abrogating is using that right to violate another specific persons’s rights. Otherwise, on the basis of rights argument you put forward, you have not made the case.

        None of your reply addresses my criticism to this. If you’re now saying it’s about some other principle, then the appropriate way to respond would be to say it isn’t about rights, and name the principle you are using, not a list of regulations and design features you advocate, without an explanation of the underlying reasoning, let alone it’s application to the issue under discussion.

      • Gun ownership is not a human right. The right to harm others is not a human right. Individual rights do not outweigh collective rights. The greater good must win out. Maximum freedom for the greatest number.

        Cost (massive)/Benefit (barely existent).

  3. Except you previously argued that gun ownership was a right. And you are still trying to conflate merely owning a gun with committing murder without an argument. And you changed your argument over rights when it failed instead of retracting it. And collectives cannot have rights, only individuals. And it’s not a right if it can be taken away by a nebulous collective.

    If the benefit to the “collective” was greater than the slavery of a minority your utilitarian approach would have to support slavery and then hastily rediscover the merits of individual rights to save your position.

    • The US constitution defines it as a right, I do not. I am not conflating the two, rather I am saying that the risk and detriment massively outweighs any perceived benefit. Collectives are made up of individuals. The right of the corpus of the people as a whole to a relatively peaceful and murder-free existence outweighs a person’s perceived right (not actually enshrined by law) to have a gun. This is not rocket surgery.

      • “As I’ve intimated before on this blog there are two different kinds of freedom, freedom from and freedom to. For me, a person’s right to life (freedom from harm) definitely outweighs the gun owner’s right to own one.”

        Your words, not out of context. This discussion does not appear to be going any productive. I thank you for the stimulating and civil discourse. I will not be commenting on this any further.

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