Spree Killers, the Second Amendment, and Those Damned Guns

Looks like the First Amendment is safe for now…sorta…

The Second, however, is in the hot seat again.

Everyone is cottoning onto the fact that Jared Loughner was just a nut. Political affiliation is questionable or just plain negligible. It’s getting too hard to blame the limited government and anti-government rhetoric. Even Obama rose above political divisiveness on this one.

So now that free speech is no longer being blamed, it’s time to turn our attention back to those damned guns. Loughner would very likely have ended up attacking people no matter which books he had read. The man had already made his psychotic break from morality…

But if only guns weren’t available, comes the cry! Then these psychopaths couldn’t do as much harm as they do…

A reader sent this:


“You write,

“‘Gun-ownership supporters are getting the usual flack.’

“And so they should.

“The time is ripe for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

“In Australia 10 years or so ago, we had a psycho gun down a dozen people with an automatic rifle.

“The government brought in sweeping powers to reduce the number of guns and make access to guns extremely difficult.

“We’re a safer community because of it. Lunatics can’t get access to any gun, let alone the Arnie type.

“The guns any of the people who were killed or injured the other day were not sufficient to protect them. They never were.

“We didn’t need the guns in the days of the Wild West. It just encouraged thugs, criminals, and lunatics on horses to run amok. Hollywood’s glamorization of the Wild West has jaundiced our view of this mayhem.

“We don’t need them now. It still just encourages thugs, criminals and lunatics to run amok killing and injuring innocent people.

“Do you carry a gun?”

Not right now. But I do have access to cars and knives…

Consider Japan, where no one has a gun, yet insane people occasionally kill several strangers en masse with a simple kitchen knife…or with the combination of a vehicle and a dagger.

  • In 2001 in Ikeda, Japan, eight children were killed and 15 people injured in Japan’s worst school tragedy when a middle-aged man with a history of mental illness went on a stabbing rampage at an elementary school.
  • In Tokyo’s Akihabara massacre Tomohiro Kato struck a crowd with a truck, which killed three people and injured two. He then leaped out the vehicle and stabbed 12 people with a dagger, killing four people and injuring eight.

So it turns that that mass or spree killings are surprisingly possible without firearms. Japanese madmen managed to kill as many or more people in each of the above sprees as Loughner managed to with a firearm.

Madmen will find something to get the job done. Guns, knives, hammers, cars…whatever they can get their hands on. In the above example, innocents managed to get themselves killed in small handfuls by maniacs with nary a gun in sight.

But certainly, a gun usually makes slaughter more efficient. As a rule, psychotic killers kill a lot more people with guns than they can manage to with speeding cars and knives. Given the choice, killers take the ease of the gun over the effort-intensive knife and cumbersome car every time, for much the same reasons most of us would use a buzz saw to fell a tree instead of an ax.

You’ll notice that knives and vehicles are still legal in Japan. “Damn you! It’s not the same!” goes the argument; Guns are blatantly and outrageously designed for killing. Knives and cars are tools that can be misused. The gun is a tool, too, but when used properly, it kills. This becomes very clear as one reads the accounts of spree killings involving firearms.

What also stands out more to anyone not automatically biased against guns is that no one is able to stop the spree killer because everyone else is insufficiently armed. Everyone simply flees in terror when the maniac starts shooting. The victims-to-be can’t shoot back because as polite, progressive people, they think the right to self-defense is barbaric.

Carrying a firearm for self-protection is as atavistic as keeping a safe with some gold and silver. It’s hip, modern…civilized!…to let the government handle the weapons and the money.

Some people just have a deep-down fear of guns, the way some people have a fear of other people putting whatever they want into their own bodies…or of other people doing whatever they want in private with other consenting adults.

They’re all symptoms of the same busybody disease. They also pretend that it’s a good idea to make sure that only criminals and the government — but here I repeat myself — have guns.

They don’t want the burden of self-protection…even though places that allow regular folks to conceal and carry tend to have lower crime rates. This is just pure economics at work: The chance that any given target could be armed makes crime a much riskier proposition with no increase in reward. Criminals take this risk-reward ratio into consideration. It’s part of the reason the cities with the most stringent gun control laws are among the worst in terms of crime.

Can’t we just get rid of all the guns among the populace, the busybodies wonder.

No. Criminals and madmen will always find a way to get those guns while the rest of us voluntarily disarm ourselves.

And even if we could remove every gun from the civilian population, is that really a good idea?

Your garden-variety statist will say yes. After all, the government is supposed to have our best interest at heart; it’s not like an armed populace is something the government would fear or should have to fear…right?

These people need to take the warnings of history a little more seriously.

And they ought to read these books:

Guns, Crime, and Freedom

The Global War on Your Guns

You should read them too.

Gary Gibson
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

January 15, 2011

The Daily Reckoning