Friday, May 8, 2009

The lunatics have taken over the asylum - again!

The BBC reports:

The German government says it plans to ban combat games such as paintball, in response to a recent school shooting.

The new measures being proposed to parliament also include tighter gun control rules and give officials the right to conduct checks on gun owners.

Sixteen people, including the gunman, were killed in the shooting at a school in southern Germany in March.

Relatives of the victims say the new measures do not go far enough.

Under the proposed rules, the authorities would be given more right to ensure weapons are safely locked up.

It is also though that "biometric controls" for gun storage might be introduced, the BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Berlin reports.

That would mean that anyone owning and storing guns at home would need to use their own fingerprint to open the safe or cupboard, our correspondent says.

Berlin also plans to ban games like paintball and laser-tag that stimulate killing on that they trivialise and encourage violence.

Anyone defying the proposed new rule could face a 5,000-euro (£4,474) fine.

But relatives of those killed in the March attack in the town of Winnenden, near Stuttgart, are calling for an outright ban on pistols and high-calibre weapons.

"There cannot be a second Winnenden," Hardy Schober, whose daughter was killed in the attack, told a news conference in Berlin.


Have these people gone utterly insane? Do they have eyes to see, and a brain to understand? What's wrong with them?

You can't stop criminal actions by banning things. You can only stop them by stopping the people who commit them. The tools used are basically irrelevant.

The anti-gunners parrot the cry, "But if they didn't have guns, they wouldn't be able to kill so many people: therefore, if we ban the guns, we'll be safe!" Bull! That's a lie, and thousands of years of history bear witness to its falsehood. Consider:

  • How many people died in massacres before the firearm was ever invented? Untold millions.
  • Even today, when military assault weapons are commonplace in the Third World (far more so than in the First World), what's the biggest killer of innocent persons there? The humble machete and similar weapons. Look at the civil wars and genocides in Rwanda, Zaire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burma, Sudan . . . the list is endless. Read the facts for yourself. They're out there.
  • In our own First World, how many people are the victims of crime committed with a firearm, versus those who save themselves and their loved ones by producing a firearm? Statistics vary, depending on the source, but the preponderance of reliable, verifiable evidence (rather than that made up, concocted and twisted by partisan sources) is that incidents of the legal use of firearms in defense overwhelmingly exceed those of their illegal use in criminal attacks. Remember - if you disarm everyone, you'll be disarming only those who abide by the laws. Criminals don't obey existing laws, so why should they obey yet another one? They'll simply be free to attack with greater impunity.
  • The deranged will do whatever it takes to achieve their horrifying goals. Remember Columbine? The two murderers prepared bombs that might have killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands. It's only because they were particularly inept bomb-makers that their improvised explosive devices failed to detonate. They killed some people with firearms, sure, but only a minuscule proportion of the number they hoped and intended to kill. If they hadn't bought guns, but had put their money and efforts into making better bombs, Columbine would have been far worse than it was.
  • The death of dozens or scores of people in attacks on schools and colleges is tragic, but consider this. Those same places ban the possession of firearms on their premises. If even a single trained shooter had been present at any of these incidents, and armed, he or she could have stopped the killing with one or two well-placed bullets. The only thing those 'gun-free zones' achieved was to render those within them defenseless against criminals who didn't obey the law. Way to go, authorities! (Israel learned this decades ago. After Palestinian terrorists began targeting Jewish schools, its Government didn't throw a hissy-fit; instead, it armed and trained the teachers. Result: several dead terrorists, and decades of massacre-free instruction in Israeli schools. Q.E.D.)
  • A terrorist, or a deranged lunatic who wanted to cause the maximum possible horror and revulsion, wouldn't need a gun at all. There are tens of thousands of easily-attacked risk-free targets within their reach, five days out of every seven, for nine months of the year. I'm talking about our school buses. All they'd have to do would be to get their hands on a heavy vehicle, pick a bus route with steep drop-offs, and ram a school bus full of kids over the side. They'd have a good chance of getting away in the confusion, and they'd cause a panic such as the USA has never seen before. Guns? Who needs guns? (Oh - and if you think I'm irresponsible for putting this suggestion out there, think again. Al Qaeda has already discussed such attacks in its training schools. We've captured their training materials, so we know that. We also know their operatives aren't trained to escape - they're trained to kill as many innocent people as possible before they're killed themselves. Can you imagine a Beslan-type incident on US soil? They can. They're planning for it - and with no-one on school premises armed and able to resist them, the odds are in their favor, right from the start. Think about that.)

As for banning paintball, because it might be a contributing factor to massacres, what about other violent sports? Let's ban football, ice hockey, and any other sport where the players sometimes get into a fight! After all, that must contribute to violence, right? As for banning guns, so we won't have any more massacres . . . heck, let's ban cars! That way we won't have any more car accidents! Let's ban aircraft, so we won't have any more plane crashes!

The logic of all these positions is identical . . . and equally flawed. Cars don't cause accidents: they're caused by road conditions, or mechanical failure, or flawed driving technique, or an impaired driver, or a combination of these factors. Aircraft don't cause plane crashes: they're caused by weather conditions, or mechanical failure, or pilot error, or an impaired pilot, or a combination of these factors. Guns don't cause massacres: those are caused by human beings deciding to commit murder. Whether they do so with a gun, or a bomb, or a fire, or an axe, or a knife, is basically irrelevant. In every case, the driver, or pilot, or murderer, may be sane or insane, impaired or unimpaired, rational or irrational: but there's always a human involved. The car, or plane, or gun, is simply a tool in their hands.

Consider these truths.

  • We don't bring criminal charges against a car for an incident of drunk driving: we charge the driver. Banning cars won't stop people being drunk in charge of whatever alternative transport they use. (There are five examples at those links.) Their behavior is the problem, not their conveyance.
  • We don't charge a match or a lighter for starting a fire that burns down a house: we charge the person who used it. Banning matches or lighters won't stop arsonists. They'll use a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays on tinder, or use a fire striker, or rub two sticks together, or carry hot coals in a firepot. Our ancestors did all those things for thousands of years before matches were invented. Guess what? The old ways still work!
  • We don't charge a knife with murder if it's used to kill someone: we charge the person who wielded it. Banning knives won't stop murders. Killers will simply use rocks, or clubs, or baseball bats, or their bare hands, or any other potentially lethal instrument.
  • We don't sue a scalpel for medical negligence over a surgical procedure that's wrongly performed: we sue the surgeon who used it. Banning scalpels won't stop such mistakes. It'll simply condemn to death all those who really need surgery, but now can't get it.
  • We don't charge a gun for a massacre: we charge the person who pulled the trigger. Banning guns won't stop massacres. The perpetrator(s) will turn to a knife, or arson, or bombs, or sabotage, or driving a vehicle at full speed into a crowd, or find some other method of killing large numbers of people at once.

Again and again and again, the instrument is not the cause of the problem; the instrument is not guilty of the problem; and banning the instrument won't solve the problem!

I urge you to follow the links in the points above. They illustrate the harsh but undeniable truth that if a bad person wants to commit a criminal act, he or she will disregard any and all laws forbidding that act; he or she will obtain whatever instrument they need to perpetrate that act; and if he or she can't get one instrument, they will find an alternative. That's the way it is. Welcome to the real world.

If the German government implements these proposed measures, what will they do when the next massacre of innocent people occurs? Will they have the moral courage to say, "Well, these measures obviously did nothing to stop such attacks, so we'll repeal them"? Like hell they will! They'll leave them in place, impairing the civil rights and liberties of the law-abiding, and putting the latter at greater risk by removing from them the means to effectively defend themselves.

Sometimes I could bang my head against the wall in sheer frustration at the wilful, blind stupidity of liberal politicians and their ilk.



Anonymous said...

I suspect it is the idea of the perfectability of humans - i.e. if you take away things that tempt people to be bad, then people will stop being bad, rainbows will appear over the Bundestag, the aurochs will return and the Swiss will stop exporting Heimat movies (OK, maybe not the last one).
But something tells me that despite the best hopes of social planners and do-gooders, humans will continue being humans, even if it means going after eachother with sticks of firewood.

Anonymous said...

You've hit one out of the park again. Amazing how difficult it seems to be for folks in the political class to understand this. They just can't legislate away human nature (or any other kind of nature) -- and I believe they know that, and aren't really interested in understanding your simple logic. Control is the point, and any excuse will do.


raven said...

Well, in sort of a left handed defense, it is true the average western IQ is declining......

My proposal is to remove both hands at birth, thus limiting attacks to whatever weapon can be wielded with the molars.

Seriously, I have a huge problem with the type of laws that make OBJECTS illegal, in an attempt to control ACTIONS. I care not whether my nieghbor has a machine gun, so long as he does not shoot me. I care not if he smokes dope or drinks, , as long as he does not run into me. We have laws to govern all sorts of illegal actions, and the emphasis on demonising objects just serves to displace responsibility from a person, onto the tool. And the corallary is that it greatly inconvieniences the vast majority who want to use that tool without harm.

Anonymous said...

The solution to all forms of violent crime is deceptively simple: Every individual who has ever committed a violent act has at some time in their life eaten bread in some form. To immediately end all violence, all we have to do is ban all forms of bread, worldwide. Ban all loaves of bread, all bagels, all tortillas, all flatbreads, and, yes, even all doughnuts and croissants.

This method will bring about peace and safety at least as surely as restricting or banning firearms.

WV: unhamen, as in "Hey! Unhamen my Smith and Wesson!!"

Old Squid.

smartdogs said...

Animal law is notoriously bad this way. We *must* remove the genitals from all cats and dog because some humans let their pets breed indiscriminately. We *must* have limit laws because some people's pets are noisy and troublesome. Some breeds must be outlawed because a few clueless morons are attracted to those breeds and behave irresponsibly.

Spaying and neutering irresponsible *people* might do us a lot more good.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how far back this concept actually goes, but as I've often read on Robert Heinlein's sci-fi books:

"You can't legislate morality."

B Woodman

Anonymous said...

Peter, Europe has been trying for nearly a millennia to engineer the perfect society. Communism was a notable part of it, but hardly the only part. The Founding Fathers had no better ideas, and so created a system that would confound itself.

There is no logic to it. Stop trying to find one. Europe is lost, I'm afraid.


Anonymous said...

Just got around to reading this one.

If some nut-job takes a liter of gas into a packed theather and lights it up, what is it that needs banning... Gasoline? Liter bottles? Theaters?

It's a *human* problem, not some inanimate object that causes the problem...


Alexander said...

I agree with the general gist of this, certainly. It is the classic knee-jerk reaction of so many PTAs and nanny states, and I'll be the first to admit that the UK is terribly nanny-like at times.

Nevertheless, unlike cars, planes and the other objects you've cited, guns exist solely to cause harm to another living being. I recognise this can be in self defense, but the mere fact a gun can kill someone and not be an accident sets it apart from the others.

In theory guns being illegal means they're just held by criminals and not citizens, but in the real world it isn't that simple. If they're even lucky enough to figure out where to get one, the second anyone sees them with it the police are all over the place. Because in a gun-banned country, it sets alarm bells ringing. I've lived in a lot of places in the UK and shootouts are virtually unheard of. It just makes it very very difficult to have one. Yes, some are derranged and determined, but the vast majority are put off by it.

On the other hand, I do think a lot of what would be gun crime is now simply knife crime, and London has an escalating knife crime problem. But this confines the extent of the violence to close-combat. If I had to choose between there being a knife fight or a gun fight down my road, I know which I'd prefer less.

I sympathise with your point because I do tire of the nanny-state, but I think that (here at least) giving everyone guns would likely exacerbate the problem.

Just my two cents, sorry for the essay =)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have come across your blog by accident, but started reading your posts on self-defence (defense). I live in the UK where gun controls are intense. It is illegal to own a handgun of any kind, even for sport.

I don't intend to debate whether that's a good thing or not.

Here's my point: there is such a HUGE gulf between European thinking and North American thinking. I say North American, because, although Canada has as many guns, it has many fewer "columbines" and gun crime in general. But Canada shares (a bit of a generalisation) the US approach - which (again , generalising) is that people are the problem, not the availability of guns.

In the UK, the general consensus is that a complete gun ban is a good thing. We have had a few Columbines (Hungerford, Dunblane). In each case, the reaction (supported by the populace) has been to tighten gun laws.

The US reaction is to shrug and say "Gee, these things just happen" and regard it as a price worth paying for the right to bear arms.

Of course, it depends a lot on whether guns are endemic, as they are in the US, with more guns than people, or rare, like in the UK. If they are endemic, then there is sense in defending yourself and your home. If they are rare, and you have defensible borders (as the UK does, being an island), then it makes more sense to drive guns out of society.

Although, you are more likely to be shot by accident by a member of your family than by an intruder, if you keep guns in the house.

If one were to take a purely statistical view, you would be safer to keep guns out of the house. But I'm sure most gun owners say "that won't happen to me".

To sum up, if I lived in the US, I would be tempted to buy a shotgun as recommended. But I am happier to live in a society where NO-ONE (and I really mean no-one) feels the need to keep firearms to defend themselves. has a good summary.

I have visited the US a number of times (usually on business) and I find much to admire.

Epsilon Given said...

Alexander, your seriously flawed logic is rather disturbing.

First of all, guns are far easier to obtain than you make them out to be: they are small, so they can be smuggled easily; they aren't all that complicated, so they can be made easily; and it's easy to hide them on your own person, so you could carry one for a very long time, before creating any sort of "alarm".

Second, guns aren't made to kill, they are made to be guns. Many guns are designed for target shooting; many guns, designed for defence, are only used for target shooting. It's up to the individual to determine how to use a given object, and if he intends to do harm, there isn't much we can do to stop him.

Third, when you say that making guns illegal limits violence to "close-combat", you assume that both parties are just fighting, and that both are willing participants in the fight...but not all violent encounters are like that. When I awaken to the crashing down of a door, and I face a madman high on drugs armed with a knife--or even worse, a pitchfork--intent on doing harm to me and my family, the last thing I'm going to want to do is approach him with a knife, or a hammer, or some other "close-combat" weapon. I would rather face such an intruder with a gun, even if he had a gun himself.

That's the problem with banning guns: they do little to prevent violence, but they force the good guys to choose between protecting themselves and their families, and obeying the law. Thus, they leave the innocent to be prey to the strong and the lawless.

Fourth, banning guns have done nothing to reduce violence, even in Great Britain. Ever since pistols have been completely banned in Great Britain, violence--including murder--has been on the rise. Does it really make a difference if you're murdered by a knife, or a hammer, or a gun? Dead is dead.

I spent a couple of years, after the pistol ban, in Great Britain, as a missionary. My companion and I were mugged by a group of teenagers; later that week, my companion met a person who lost his friend to a mugging--the friend's head was bashed in with a hammer. It was rather sobering to realise it could have happened to us! It's been a sobering reminder to me how dangerous life is; it's also why I always have hammers on my mind, when thinking about these things.