The tragic events in Nice last Thursday demonstrate, yet again, that gun control will do nothing at all to stop terrorists. For a start, France has some of the most restrictive firearms laws and regulations in the world - yet the terrorist in Nice had multiple guns, grenades, etc. in the cab of his truck. Clearly, the regulations did nothing whatsoever to stop him getting his hands on them. In fact, there were so many weapons in the cab that police are now investigating whether he was supposed to meet up with accomplices, who might have taken the guns and used them alongside him.
Most of the fatalities were caused by the terrorist's vehicle, which became a weapon in its own right. A multi-ton truck is very hard to stop. He was able to drive for over a mile along a boulevard, killing more than 80 and injuring (according to latest estimates) over 200. The toll would have been much higher if people hadn't fled for their lives.
Even if he hadn't had a truck, or firearms, or grenades, he could have caused a lot of harm. Remember any of these incidents?
- The Happy Land nightclub fire in New York in 1990. Arson. Gasoline. 87 dead.
- The Gulliver's nightclub fire in 1974. Arson. 24 dead.
- The Upstairs Lounge fire in New Orleans in 1973. Suspected arson. 32 dead.
- The Blue Bird Café fire in Montreal, Canada, in 1972. Arson. 37 dead.
- The Whiskey Au Go Go fire in Brisbane, Australia, in 1973. Arson. 15 dead.
- The Gothenburg discothèque fire in Sweden in 1998. Arson. 63 dead.
Think fire's too tricky? Well, how about poison gas? Try combining swimming-pool chlorine and ammonia, or chlorine and concentrated bleach. The result? Chloramine vapor, a.k.a. chlorine gas, which is very dangerous and can be lethal in high concentrations or given prolonged exposure. It's easy to make, and in a confined space would undoubtedly cause casualties. There are other gases that can be easily produced from readily available materials. I won't go into details here, for obvious reasons.
Chemical reactions can also be used to produce an explosion. For example, here's what happens when you pour alcohol over swimming-pool chlorine bleach crystals.
Those two idiots were just playing around - but what if a group of terrorists were to mix several bottles like that, and toss them into a crowd at a nightclub? The resulting explosions would cause utter panic. I'm sure many would be injured in the crush, and some might even be killed. Furthermore, the terrorists could use the panic as cover to attack with guns or knives, or set a fire, or anything else that came to their twisted, evil minds.
As for bombs, they're relatively easy to make, either using stolen or legally purchased explosives, or making your own. Remember the Bath school massacre in 1927? 44 dead (mostly schoolchildren) and 58 injured. The murderer (who we might as well call a terrorist) used legally purchased explosives. Stolen dynamite was used in the Harvey's Resort Hotel bombing in 1980. Remember the London bombings in 2005? Terrorists produced their own explosive, acetone peroxide, and used it to make suicide bomb vests. The same explosive was used in the Brussels terror attacks earlier this year. It's so easy to make from readily available chemicals that it's almost impossible to prevent its use. Then there's fertilizer. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 used a bomb made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer mixed with other components. That fertilizer is now more tightly controlled, but numerous small purchases made over a wide area, over time, could still amass enough to make a formidable bomb indeed. ANFO is widely used commercially, and is thus relatively easy to obtain, legally or through theft.
If anyone tries to tell you that we need stricter gun control to control terrorism, remember these things. You'll know for sure that they're lying. Strict gun control in France did nothing to stop the Charlie Hebdo shooting, or the Paris terrorist attacks last November, or Nice the other day. It will do nothing to stop terrorism in future.
The only thing gun control will achieve in the fight against terrorism is to prevent law-abiding citizens like you and I from engaging terrorists before they have a chance to use their bomb, or gas, or fire, or whatever. It renders us even more likely to be victims.