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Tragedy strikes april 17, 2007

Posted by Fredrik Gustafsson in _In English_.
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First of all, the thing that happened at Virgina Tech is nothing short of a complete tragedy. If something even remotely similar would happen at the university where I work, I would seriously consider permanently giving up teaching and working at a university.

With this being said, I also find it tragic, although it seems insulting to use this word to describe something as trifle on a day like this, that some people will, and already are, exploiting this tragedy to argue for stricter gun laws. Personally, I hate guns. I feel very uncomfortable around them. I have never owned any kind of gun and I probably never will. Despite this fact, I seriously believe that stricter gun laws would not decrease the number such tragedies, or gun-related crimes at all for that matter.

First of all, there is simply no reason for why a larger amount of guns in circulation would lead to an increased number of such tragedies. If these kinds of tragedies were to be considered as accidents, that sometimes occur when guns are in circulation, then limiting the number of guns would perhaps help, in a similar fashion as limiting the amount of cars would reduce automobile accidents. This event is however not a freak accident, that just took place because a gun was laying around somewhere, but of course something planned.

Of course, if no guns at all were avialable, it would be difficult to stage such a massacre. One could of course resort to knives, arson, and so on, but guns do seem more effective. The point is however that strict gun laws will only restrict the number of registered guns, which can be traced, and at the same time lead to an increase in illegal and unregistered firearms. This would mean that all guns would be, per definition, in the hands of criminals (since having a gun would make you a criminal) and a nation where the only ones who have guns are the criminals, would not be a safer place. Not only would such a situation lead to more gun-related crimes, it would lead to an increase in a number of other related crimes as well.

Furthermore, giving law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons might even decrease the number of such tragedies. Think about it. These tragedies always occur in gun-free zones, like universities, high-schools and work places. Of course, part of the reason for this is that these places, and the people who work or study there, are the intended targets. However, another reason for why it is always these places that are struck with tragedy, is because the madman can feel safe that no one other than him is carrying a gun. He can be sure that no one will fire back. This is of course related to the curious fact that an increased circulation of guns actually seems to lead to a decrease in crime. Trying to rob, rape or intimidate someone becomes all the more risky if there is a chance that the intended victim is also carrying a concealed weapon.

As a last point, Finland and the Åland Islands, where I live, is an excellent example that a large circulation of firearms do not necessarily have to lead to tragedy. The number of firearms per person in Finland is the third highest in the world, behind only the US and Yemen, and the Åland Islands, the islands of peace, is one of the areas in Finland with the largest amount of guns per capita. Despite this fact, gun-related violence and crime is more or less unheard of, confirming the fact that it is people, not guns, who commit crimes.

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1. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 17, 2007

Ända sedan min engelska blogg gick i graven, har jag funderat på att böärja skriva sporadiska inlägg på engelska på denna blogg.

Så, i forstsättningen kommer jag att varva de svenska inläggen med några engelska. Vissa kommer att vara rena översättningar, medan andra, som inlägget ovan, kommer att vara unika.

Anledningen till att jag väljer att göra detta är att många personer som besöker denna blogg, eller har ett intresse av att göra det, helt enkelt inte kan svenska. T.ex. stod IP-adresser i Malaysia för nästan 600 träffar förra månaden.

Det går dock givetvis utmärkt att kommentera de engelska inläggen på svenska om man känner för det.

2. Jakob Lundberg - april 17, 2007

‘A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly.

House Bill 1572 didn’t get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.

The bill was proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Gilbert was unavailable Monday and spokesman Gary Frink would not comment on the bill’s defeat other than to say the issue was dead for this General Assembly session.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. ”I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.” ‘

Vilken tur att Virginia lyckades undvika en sådan hemsk lag och skapade säkerhet på Virginias universitet(V Tech i synnerhet).

3. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 18, 2007

Ja, det är konstigt hur någon kan påstå att problemet är att det finns för mycket vapen i USA när en liten korean kan meja ner över trettio personer, utan att möta något motstånd.

Läste också en kommentar som sade att detta visar hur sjukt det amerikanska samhället är. Lite ironiskt att det visade sig att det var en koreansk gäststudent som höll i vapnet. Kan inte vara speciellt bra stämning i Korea just nu.

4. Andrew Hagmark-Cooper - april 18, 2007

You’re quite right that it is ”people, not guns, who commit crimes”. As you point out, Finland has plenty of guns without high crime rates. On the other hand, the UK has a fair bit of violent crime, but very little gun crime. Why is that? Because it’s very difficult to get hold of guns in the UK.

I’d much rather live in a country where it is harder for both myself and criminals to get hold of guns, than one where it is easy for everyone to do so. The idea that having a gun yourself makes you safer is complete rubbish.

If some nutcase decides he’s going to kill as many people as he can, there is little that can be done about it. But is it better that he’s armed with a sharp object – as has often been the case in the UK – or a machine gun?

5. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 18, 2007

First of all, a law against small firearms makes it a lot harder for YOU to get a gun, but it only represent minor obstacle for a criminal intending to use the gun to kill someone. It is probaly better for the criminal to steal or purchase a stolen gun regarless of whether guns are allowed or not in order to make it harder for the police to trace the gun.

Furthermore, if someone holds you at gunpoint, would you prefer not to have a gun? If someone, a teacher or student, had been armed, the gunman could probably not have kept killing people for seven hours, before taking his own life.

It goes without saying that I would prefer to live in a country where no one is carrying a concealed weapon because they choose not to do so. However, the nightmare case is when criminal carry weapons and when you are not allowed to defend yourself.

And yes, the UK has very strict gun laws and there are fewer weapons per person than in Finland, but the unregistered weapons outnumber registered weapons by over 2 to 1. In Finland, registered weapons outnumber unregistered weapons by 17 to 1. Which makes you feel more safe?

6. Jakob Lundberg - april 18, 2007

”If some nutcase decides he’s going to kill as many people as he can, there is little that can be done about it.”

Of course you can do something about it. For example, in the shooting at the Appalachian Law School in Virginia 2002. Tracy Bridges, an armed student, was able to disarm the shooter. And thus saving the lives of many of his fellow students.

”But is it better that he’s armed with a sharp object – as has often been the case in the UK – or a machine gun?”

I think we all know the damage that can be done with boxcutters if the victims are completly disarmed.

7. Andrew Hagmark-Cooper - april 18, 2007

Fredrik,

If I’m given the choice between being much less likely to be held at gunpoint or being able to get hold of a gun with a greater chance of being held at gunpoint, I’ll go for the first one.

I’ve been in situations in UK where I was concerned about violence. I’ve never, however, been worried about getting shot. The thought of the UK being awash with guns wouldn’t make me feel safer.

Jakob,

The point isn’t what damage can be done, but how easy it is to do it. A determined group of individuals can do a lot of damage with limited resources, but any idiot can kill a lot of people very quickly and without much planning if they are armed with a machine gun.

You guys seem to have this idea that being armed with a gun makes you safer. I recommend the film ”City of God” as an antidote.

8. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 18, 2007

City of God? Yes, I saw that movie a few years back when I was living in Singapore. The character that fascinated me the most was Knockout Ned. What was the story of knockout Ned again? Oh, right. First, Ned was unarmed and driving a bus. He received a severe beating and his wife was raped and killed. Then, Ned armed himself and nobody could mess with him any longer.

If I was thrown into The City of God, I would prefer having a really big gun. It would probably not, given the severity of the situation, have increased my chances of surviing greatly. But if me and my wife were attacked, I would at least have some control over the situation.

I am not saying that everything would be all good in a society where everybody wants to kill and rape their fellow man if only everyone were allowed to carry a gun. It would not. The only thing that I am saying is that liberal gun laws do not lead to more violence (there are countries that have as liberal gun legislation as the US and that have very little violence) and that, in a situation where there is a lot of crime, you cannot deprive a man or a woman of his or her right to defend themselves in a situationen where no one else can.

9. Kaj Grüssner - april 18, 2007

But you see, Fredrik, it is not the individual who is supposed to protect him or herself, its the state. Much like its not the indivudial’s responsability to provide healthcare or education for himself. It is the state which should provide that and all else. By giving all the guns to the state we are all much safer.

Here is an insightful lecture on the hypocracy and tyranny of the Left:

[audio src="http://mises.org/multimedia/mp3/misescircle-houston07/Block.mp3" /]

10. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 18, 2007

I think the state does and can protect you in the sense that it can ensure that the one who injures or kills you will be caught and punished (which might deter people from trying to injure and kill you).

But if someone decides, despite the risk of getting caught, to try to kill you, the only one that can really protect you is you yourself or someone who is (by your own chioce) close to you,

The state cannot completely protect uf from harm–this would involve a too great breach of our privacy.

11. Fredrik Gustafsson - april 18, 2007
12. Andrew Hagmark-Cooper - april 18, 2007

Fredrik,

I’m not trying to deprive anyone of their right to defend themselves. However, I dispute that having easy access to guns is the best way too help them do that. You don’t need to have a gun to be able to take care of yourself when threatened, and having a gun certainly doesn’t mean that you can take care of yourself when threatened.

Kaj,

I’d rather there were fewer weapons in the hands of the state too. The reason the vast majority of the police in England, Wales and Scotland can be unarmed is that guns are relatively hard to get hold of, so it’s not to surprising you’re much more likely to get shot by the police in the U.S.

13. Kaj Grüssner - april 18, 2007

Andrew

Hasn’t it been proved already that the number of guns are not the determining factor in the number of gun related crimes? Canada has more guns per capita and much more liberal gun lawas then the U.S, still there are -very- few gun crimes in Canada.

And looking at the U.S, which you do quite often when trying to prove a point, the most stringent gun laws are found in California and New York state, whereas places like Utah and Texas have rather liberal laws. And still gun crimes are more common percentagewise in California and New York. Why? Its a cultural thing, not a how-many-guns thing. (Great grammar, I know 🙂

Not to mention that gun laws don’t keep guns out the hands of criminals. I mean, ignoring laws is kind of the point of being a criminal, isn’t it? Stringent gun laws don’t keep guns away from criminals any more than stringent drug laws keep drugs away from addicts.

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