Guns, tragedies, and alternatives

17/12/2012 § 7 Comments

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a tragedy, another tragedy. It doesn’t fit the normal scope of topics here, but I couldn’t let it pass without comment.

What to say? It seems like everything has been said before. Again and again. We need more guns, we need fewer guns. We need more rules, we need fewer rules.

What I can offer is the perspective of an American ex-pat (I’ve been living overseas continuously for over a decade):

There is a better way to live.

Millions of people around the world live each day without the tiny, nagging fear that today is the day someone takes a gun to their families. They live without worrying that a disgruntled ex-employee or a bright-but-troubled teenager will tear their worlds apart. They live in countries and societies that have found other ways to balance individual rights and social order.

They are not under the jackboot of tyranny. They can still hunt animals and shoot targets.

And they can still kiss their children goodnight.


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§ 7 Responses to Guns, tragedies, and alternatives

  • Michael Reddell says:

    Port Arthur
    Tuusula, Finland

    and on…..

    All awful…..and all very different approaches to gun regulation.

  • Thorsten says:

    I think, sorry to say so, that it must have to do with something in the US society.
    When considering the rather large number of homicides in the US compared to Europe, people often refer to the low socioeconomic status of most people who are involved in homicides.
    However, it seems to me (though I don’t have data available) that mass shootings in the US are not usually limited to people with a low SES, this seems to me a middle-class phenomenon.
    And that then is hard to explain. Switzerland, where I live, has quite a number of small arms around in private households, yet mass shootings are less common. (Bill’s quoted Washington Post blog entry says the same, but the “mythbusting” on Swiss gun laws there is full of mistakes.)

    • Eric House says:

      As an American, I am afraid that I agree with Thorsten. There are too many weapons and too many people who have bought into the ‘Rambo’ mythology. Change for the positive is doubtful, and if it does occur, then it will be slow and minimal.

      One of the worst days of my life when when my daughter came home from kindergarden class and talked excitedly about how they practiced having a lockdown at their school.

      lots of despair from Minnesota today…

  • As much as an alternative equilibrium may be desirable, I can see no feasible path to a desirable US low-gun equilibrium. Where you can go is constrained by where you are. And hundreds of millions of privately owned, unregistered, unlicensed firearms already out there is hardly an easy starting point.

  • The first place I’d look to make improvements would be in having potential killers not expect that their names and pictures will be seen by everyone in the US and lots of folks around the world to live forever in infamy. But again, I see no way of getting there from here – there’s massive public demand to see the person who must be hated, and a competitive media market will supply.

    • JC says:

      “The first place I’d look to make improvements would be in having potential killers not expect that their names and pictures will be seen by everyone in the US and lots of folks around the world to live forever in infamy.”

      (sarc) So logically, like nicotine and alcohol, you tax such undesirable behaviour.. so Sandy Hook coverage might attract a tax of 30% on total turnover with specific revelations attracting additional tax. There would be huge brass for the govt from the media, video games, films etc.. yep, that should work. (sarc)

      I once did an exercise of scaling up our own modest numbers of mass murders to the US population and found that whilst we were half the US rate we were a bloody dangerous country. The other side of the coin of course, is that mass murders are quite rare, both here and in the US.. once you link incidence to population.
      Or as an old French politician once said “The dark night of Fascism always hovers over America, but only descends on Europe”. I can play around with this a bit and suggest that whilst the US is a mighty bastion of freedom it has its dark side, but a side that is always passionately argued.. and why China and Russia are not going to overtake it anytime soon.


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