Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Here We Go ...

Following the Virginia Tech massacre, Gerard Baker (for whose opinions I've usually got a lot of time) in the Times :

In Virginia, scene of yesterday’s shootings, they passed a law a few years ago that did indeed restrict gun purchases – to a maximum of one per week. In the neighbouring District of Columbia, on the other hand, the law bans the possession of all guns.

Unfortunate choice, that. The District of Columbia has one of the highest murder rates in the whole of the US. How so ? As the San Francisco lawyer and criminologist Don Kates writes :

The difficulty of enforcement crucially undercuts the violence-reductive potential of gun laws. Unfortunately, an almost perfect inverse correlation exists between those who are affected by gun laws, particularly bans, and those whom enforcement should affect. Those easiest to disarm are the responsible and law abiding citizens whose guns represent no meaningful social problem. Irresponsible and criminal owners, whose gun possession creates or exacerbates so many social ills, are the ones most difficult to disarm.

This applies in spades to the UK, where a total handgun ban has been accompanied by year-on-year increases in handgun crime.

States in the US where so-called concealed carry is allowed have seen falls in crime, as criminals take into account the possibility that their potential victims may be armed.

In Florida, which first introduced "shall-issue" concealed carry laws, crimes committed against residents dropped markedly upon the general issuance of concealed-carry licenses, which had the unintended consequence of putting tourists in Florida driving marked rental cars at risk from criminals (since tourists may be readily presumed unarmed.) Florida responded by enacting laws prohibiting the obvious marking of rental cars.


Perhaps if any law-abiding VT students had been allowed to carry their own weapons on campus the killer would not have been able to slaughter them in such numbers. But a Virginia Bill (House Bill 1572) allowing students the right to carry handguns on campus was recently defeated - prompting Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker to make the unfortunate declaration :

"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."

Last June, VT's governing board approved a violence prevention policy reiterating its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus facilities.

Unfortunately the 'violence prevention policy' doesn't seem to have taken into account the possibility that someone intent on breaking the murder statutes may not be too worried about a college ban. The killer didn't obey the college rules. Those who died did.

10 comments:

Voyager said...

How can Britain host events like pistol shgooting at the 2012 Olympics ?

JohnM said...

I'm surprised to have a lot of time for Gerard Baker. You must have missed this article wherein we learn that Americans such as Jimmy Carter was too scared to publish a book equating Israel to Apartheid because of the climate of pro-Zionism in the US.

Bian Xiao Xia said...

The Virginia killer had recently come straight from China where revenge mass killings by disgruntled lovers, businessmen, farmers etc, are common. Except in China guns are not so readily available so they use bombs, which are even more destructive.

http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=china+revenge+bomb&btnG=Search&meta=

Note also that Chinese youth are indoctrinated with anti-American sentiment (and anti-British and Japanese) throughout their schooling. Very likely this Chinese student was still bitter about Clinton's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999. Anyone who finds this far-fetched need only ask a Chinese mainlander for confirmation.

So in fact we should be discussing this as a Chinese attack on the US.

Anonymous said...

Bian Xiao Xia,

It will be very interesting to see, should the killer's nationality be established as Chinese, whether or not the Central Committee will engage in the collective weeping and garment-rendering expected of the British and American governments and peoples.

They really should, but no - they do not kowtow.

Mr Grumpy said...

Those easiest to disarm are the responsible and law abiding citizens whose guns represent no meaningful social problem. Irresponsible and criminal owners, whose gun possession creates or exacerbates so many social ills, are the ones most difficult to disarm.

Isn't this overlooking a third category? British gun law may be rotten at disarming professional criminals, but it surely doesn't do such a bad job of disarming nutters. It's a long time now since Dunblane.

Anonymous said...

List of school massacres.

It's noticable that prior to 1966 there was only a single incident of school massacre. Of course this list is incomplete but I'm not aware of any omissions. Perhaps there has been some cultural change that would explain the facts?

Anonymous said...

So the students at VA should have been armed so they could shoot back. The cops turn up and have to decide which armed student is the gunman before shooting him. Or do they just shoot all armed students to solve the problem?

Mike Davies said...

Anonymous 1:30pm
You might as well ask 'what if the lone gunman puts his gun away how will the police know who to kill?' -

they'll have loads of witnesses pointing the finger at the same chap.

Observer said...

but it surely doesn't do such a bad job of disarming nutters. It's a long time now since Dunblane.

Could have achieved the same by banning Freemasons like Thomas Hamilton from owning guns. Then we wouldn't need the Cullen Enquiry to keep certain things under wraps for 100 years.

Chinese conspiracy theorists must amend their fantasies about the South Korean killer with his Green Card.....no doubt he felt he shouldn't bottle things up but spray grief around

mamapajamas said...

I was working at Florida DMV at the time the order came through to change the license plates on rentals throughout the state from commercial plates to standard resident plates. It was a massive job to re-register all those rental cars in the state with new plate numbers, but we got the job done.

The reason we had to do that, we were told, was because of the new "shall issue" concealed carry permits. It seemed, just as Laban noted from the Wikipedia article, that the criminals in the Miami and Orlando areas had TOLD the police that they were targeting tourists (via their rental cars) BECAUSE locals might be armed. This wasn't a theory nor was it a "trade secret" of the thieves... they admitted it openly. Concealed carry scared the bejeebers out of them.

When the plates were changed to local resident plates, carjackings came to a screeching halt in this state. Period. The carjackers went elsewhere or took up a new trade.

Car rental agencies still sometimes put dealer ad plates on the front plate slot, since in Florida there is a number plate only on the rear bumper, but you can and should ask them to remove it if you rent a car in Florida.