Sunday, 28 June 2015

Down with the stars and bars

Nine people were killed in a church by a Dylann Roof with a semiautomatic gun. A semiautomatic gun makes it quick and easy to shoot a large number of bullets in a short time - that's the whole purpose of the gun.

America's response to this, has been to remove some confederate flags from some flagpoles.

I wouldn't argue against doing that, but is it a sufficient response?

I keep hearing "guns don't kill people, it's people that kill people" and "if guns were unobtainable, people would kill with knives.

Here's what I wonder. If Roof had been armed with a knife, killing nine people would have been very difficult, probably impossible. And given the difficulty, would he have actually even tried? I don't know, but if he had, I don't think there would have been so many killed. People don't just stand around when someone starts waving a knife around. The key difference is A) a gun can kill at a distance, and B) a gun can kill a lot of people quickly.

Let's consider a particular genre of massacre - school shootings. This doesn't only happen in America, it also happens in the rest of the world. In England, for example, there was Dunblane in 1996, and there was legislation in reaction to that. But that's the only one I could find. On the other hand, in the USA there were 24 incidents just in 2014 and as far as I can see, the reaction each time (Columbine, Sandy Hook) has been "how terrible".
So here's my question. What benefit do Americans think they get from the widespread ownership of guns, that is worth this cost?


  1. Regardless of NRA propaganda, and the reluctance of any Democratic Party action on gun law (the Republicans will never do it), the problem is you can't put the genie back into the bottle; if my neighbour has a gun, I'd better make damn sure I have one.

  2. If it were no longer possible to buy machine guns in gun shops, people like Roof would find it a lot more difficult to acquire one. If Americans decide that the problem of widespread ownership of machine guns is too intractable, then the cost will be more massacres. Their choice.