Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Another Gun Massacre

Finland is an unremarkable country in northern Europe. Apart from being the most sparsely populated country on the continent it has little that makes it stand out from the rest of the Europeans apart from it's burgeoning reputation as the school massacre centre of Europe.
For the third time in less than two decades, a gunman has shot up his college and classmates as today another student went on a gun rampage and shot dead ten people at his school in Finland.
The Finnish Police will now come under scrutiny after it emerged that police had questioned the killer, Matti Juhani Saari, about a YouTube video of himself firing directly at the camera and saying: "You will die next." Police were alerted to the clips but because Saari had a permit they had no reason to hold him.
The gun ownership argument goes on but it can't be a coincidence that the places where these gun massacres happen most frequently are the places with the highest rate of gun ownership. Finland is the third highest behind the US and Yemen.
"We have experienced a tragic day," said Matti Vanhanen, the Finnish prime minister although despite promises of tougher gun laws following Finland's last high school shooting, in November last year, the Finnish Government have done precious little to push through any new laws tightening the countries gun laws.
I strongly suspect that there will be more tragic days to come until either Finland makes the link between gun ownership and gun deaths and slap a ban on guns or the EU members apply enough pressure to force through a new ruling to bring it in line with the rest of Europe.
Today's killings should be the cause of some national soul-searching for Finland, not least about the country's rampant gun culture.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

It is tragic. A lot of lives and families were gravely affected.

Just as sad, as many people died in car accidents the same day. And, oddly, the places with the most cars are also the places with the most car accident deaths.

Q

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Lucy,
-All death is bad. Gun ownership is linked to gun deaths. Gun ownership is bad.

All unhealthy diets are bad. Food is linked to unhealthy diets. Food is bad.

All plane deaths are bad. Planes are linked to plane deaths. Planes are bad.

All death is bad. Life is linked to natural death. Life is bad.

Forgive me for a bit of hyperbole, but the logic is rather consistent amongst these arguments.

-And of course you're just talking about "gun deaths" abstract from anything else that guns could possibly play into, like lower crime rates, freedom, and fun (seriously though).

-Further, laws against legal gun ownership don't apply to criminals who do not follow the law. They do, however, apply to many law abiding folks who would only use firearms for good reasons.

-I truly would greatly love to hear a real and substantive argument as to how "tougher" laws on the lawful ownership of firearms would actually achieve the desired ends of the supporters of these laws. So, please please, if anyone has one, don't withhold it from me.


--Nog

Lucy said...

Q- Equating deaths in cars (designed for travel) to deaths by guns (designed to kill) is probably the weakest argument the pro-gun lobby have in a very short list of very weak arguments. Don't let that stop you pitching it though.

Nog - If the foods unhealthy, you change your diet. If the planes crash you design safer planes. If maniacs continually run loose with guns slaughtering people you do nothing?

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Lucy,
This "it is designed to kill" point is a fair one.

Guns "have other purposes", but it is true, most of them are designed to kill things. Of course this objection would not at all apply to muzzle-loaders and other firearms which it would be hard to argue are any more lethal than a kitchen knife (in that you can only shoot a muzzle-loader once but you can swing a knife twice).

I'll assume that you are excluding anything that one might argue is less deadly than a kitchen knife (and after all, it is "designed to cut flesh"), and probably firearms "designed to kill" but are not good for "mass murder" (various other classes of single shot firearms, and pellet and BB guns of whatever rate of fire). With this, you have a solid contention.

-So now I must answer "why shouldn't the government prohibit those who don't work for the government from having rather powerful killing weapons which they could use to commit crimes?"

Well, to begin, we don't really know that the government-armed folks are any better than the rest of us. I won't say that Bush is a better gun-giver than me. Governments, in fact, have a very bad habit of giving guns to very bad people.
One cannot assume that the folks running a government gun policy are good. If a gun policy is contingent upon a particular faction staying in power, it's a bad policy.

Next, guns will probably always be around and some bad people will always get their hands on them. If you pass a law, criminals will ignore the law. If you ban the production of guns, folks will make them anyways. It isn't as if guns are a 23rd century technology. A law itself means nothing if it cannot be enforced at a reasonable cost. The only actual way to effect a real gun ban would be a 1984 police state. Who would do that just to get rid of a few guns?

And if the bad people who will always have guns have guns but the rest of us obey gun laws, then only the bad people and the government (which is often also full of bad people) will have guns. And these bad people will know that we good people do not have guns so they will no longer fear us.

Why don't folks rob occupied houses as much in the United States? When asked, most criminals say they're more afraid of a citizen with a gun than a cop, because a cop will say freeze and a citizen will just kill them. Criminals themselves say that firearms are an effective deterrent. What if everyone this kid in Finland had shot had also been packing? It would have been a better outcome (except for him).
And counter-arguments about other American crime statistics can easily be dealt with by pointing out how our absurd drug (and general "vice") laws invent criminals that would not otherwise exist. There are many other factors as well.


So, the reason why law-abiding folks should be allowed to have guns that are made to kill lots of other folks is because other (very bad) folks will have guns whether or not they do. If there's a problem with kooks getting guns legally, just say that the cops can take guns when you're being kooky on Youtube or whatever. There's no justification for a general gun ban here or anywhere else. If anything, it shows that everyone else should have had guns too.

Gun bans are normative solutions that don't work in our non-Utopian reality.

--Nog

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

The only way I equated the two was to call them both tragic.

If you could spend your whole life to save 3+ lives, or save none which would you pursue?

> 13 per 100,000 Americans died in car accidents last year.
> 4 per 100,000 Americans were killed with a gun.

Cars can be made much safer.
Making cars safer doesn't take away my rights - a law abiding citizen for 52 years.
Making cars safer doesn't reduce my ability to protect my family.

If you want to trust in luck for protection or if you want to hide in your home that is fine with me.

I like luck, but won't place my family's safety in the hands of luck. I don't see what is weak about an arugment that allows me to protect my family from the people that would use guns against my family - or any other weapon for that matter.

No FREE SOCIETY of substantial size can be made gun free.

Taking away my guns denies me a right - that is a form of facism. In fact, if not for guns Americans might still be under the thumb of those same facists.

What is weak about these thoughts?
Getting rid of guns = impossible.
Making cars safer = easy.
Impact = 3X the value.

Control the things you can, embrace the things you can't...

Q

PS - If the kid wanted to kill lots of people and couldn't get a gun, he could have made a bomb with household items and done as much or more harm.

Anonymous said...

Don't you get it? We Americans just love guns. They became part of our wonderfull culture during the wild west. An American man wasn't a man unless he had his sixgun at his waste and notches in his gunbelt and tight jeans.

How I wish those days were still here. The men were so manly. Sigh.

I wish I could go shopping with a big sixgun hanging from my waste. Muggers and rapists would know not to mess with me.

And if I got a parking fine, boy, would that honkey person dance. Yeehah!

God Bless America.

Loise.

Lucy said...

only the bad people and the government (which is often also full of bad people) will have guns.
Exactly Nog, then anyone with a gun could then be rounded up because they are then a criminal. Easily enforcable and how it seems to work everywhere else.
Multiplying the problem by giving everyone a gun just flies in the face of all logic. More guns just means more gun deaths either by design or by accident. It would escalate an already major problem in society. Finland & America, first and third in the gun ownership chart and the two places where these kind of deadly events happen with the most frequency. Mere coincidence or another way it can be explained?

Q - If you live in an area that is crawling with the sort of people who would kill you and your family in your beds if you were not poised ready with a deadly weapons, surely the safest thing you could do for your family is move to a safer area.

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

I can work from assumption. What assumptions do I have to make to understand your position that nobody but police should be allowed to have guns?

Q

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

It isn't easy to get away from criminals.

In the US most criminals have cars. If they can't buy one with dope money, they use their gun and jack one.

Luckily I'm just out of range of Mexican criminals, but a lot of bad guys come across from Mexico and commit crimes in places like Laredo, Del Rio, El Paso, Tucson, San Antonio (on the edge of danger zone), San Diego, and other places.

Surely you don't mean Wales or England where the crime rates are higher than in the U.S., or do you?

Q

Noah "Nog" M. said...

-I'd be so bold as to posit that accidental gun deaths are so negligible as to be pointless in any such debate, just as we don't usually talk about banning kitchen knives.

-"then anyone with a gun could then be rounded up because they are then a criminal. Easily enforcable and how it seems to work everywhere else."

While it is humorous to consider (we hypothetically unarmed citizens) arresting government officials (who have guns) or whoever else, the actual effective enforcement of a gun ban would require a complete police state with paradoxically armed police.

-Not every tragedy reported on the news requires legislation.

-I agree that proven crazies with internet posted homicidal fantasies shouldn't get to keep their guns. Unfortunately, almost every law system in existence is very flawed. The legal treatment of the "insane" is no exception. There are also problems with the way laws deal with parental responsibility But this is something that would be solved by addressing the legal problems of "insanity" and "children".


-Nog

Daniel said...
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Anonymous said...

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Blogger Daniel said...

Lucy, I agree that guns are kept to kill people. I mean, thats the whole point. You blow them away if they are ornery. It's a perfect system, like a carpet cleaner with disinfectant.

I sleep with a pistol under my pillow (and a Bible). It makes me feel safe. You should try it.

I keep hoping someone will 'make my day'. Vengeance is mine says the Lord.

Have a nice day.

Thelma