I was in London when I first heard. And here I have to stop and explain something.
According to people who are on the right, politically, in America London should really be called “Londonistan”, a place where people are regularly executed in the street, where there are no go zones, and where it is not safe to walk the streets for fear of being targeted by extremists. Of course, by contrast America is safe.
I was in London then, when I heard. A person (at the time it was thought to be a group of people, but it turned out to be just one person) had attacked a police station with a firearm, and left explosive devices around. Now I know what you are thinking: This has got to be in Pakistan, or Iraq or Afghanistan because that sort of stuff happens all the time over there, right?
Dallas, Texas. You know, “safe” America.
Barely a week later, and another person went to a church and, after sitting there for an hour, shot dead nine people.
Charleston, South Carolina. You know, “safe” America.
In the first instance, the media played to the narrative that has been carefully nurtured by such terrorist organisations as the National Rifle Association, and “excused “ the person’s actions due to his mental illness.
A person who professes, or tries to awaken or spread a feeling of terror or alarm; an alarmist, a scaremonger.
In the second instance, the same terrorist organisations have sought to “excuse” the perpetrator’s actions due to his racism. It wasn’t the presence of a gun in the room that killed those people, it was the presence of a racist.
Now here’s the thing.
Mental illness happens in other parts of the world, such as Europe or Australia. We don’t however experience attacks on police stations. So: it wasn’t the guy’s mental illness, which – as it were – attacked the police station. It was his gun. If mental illness caused police station attacks they would happen in Europe too.
Racism happens in other parts of the world, such as Europe or Australia. We don’t however experience church gun massacres. So: it wasn’t the guy’s racism, which –as it were – killed those people. It was his gun. If racism caused church massacres they would happen in Europe too.
America, as discussed below, has plenty of guns. A special feature of the Charleston case is however the ease with which the perpetrator, Roof, obtained his gun. As a person awaiting trial he shouldn’t have had one, but he was given one for his birthday of all things by his father. Here is some detail on the legal loophole that allowed Roof to have a gun.
In 2012 Dallas had a population of 1.242 million, and 154 homicides were recorded. In South Carolina the population was 4.723 million, and they had 324 homicides.
In Ireland the population in 2012 was 4.587 million, and they had 79 homicides that year. (I have chosen Ireland as they have a roughly similar population to Dallas and South Carolina). Ireland exercises gun control, and around a quarter of a million people hold gun licences, roughly 5% of the population. Recently, Ireland has been looking at tightening up their gun control laws.
Earlier this year two shootings once again hit the world’s headlines. In February in Copenhagen, Denmark, two people were killed in two separate incidents by the same man in what is believed to be an attack, yes motivated by religious hatred, but related to criminal, rather than terrorist, activity.
I’ll just stop there and explain that last bit. I mean that the shooter is not believed to have been a member of, or directed by, a terrorist organisation such as ISIS.
Predictably the American right has been outraged. The gun lobby has once again trotted out the old arguments about “where there’s a good guy with a gun” and “gun control only allows criminals to have guns”.
The other shooting of note happened when a shooter shot to death three members of the same family; purportedly over a car parking dispute. Again, the shooter looks to have been motivated by religious hatred. And again the shooter appears to have been motivated by criminal, rather than religious ends.
One might wonder why the American gun lobby isn’t outraged over that second incident. Why is it that they aren’t calling for the population to be armed, for there to be a right to own weapons. The reason is simple: the second incident happened in America.
Denmark has a relatively small population of 5.6 million, and a low homicide rate. In 2012 there were 47 homicides, a rate per hundred thousand head of population of 0.8. In addition Denmark has tight gun control laws. My Danish is very poor, so I am relying on someone else’s research, but the general idea is that guns and their owners are registered on a government database – according to this article.
In spite of this the American right wing press is full of woe over how “dangerous” Denmark is. Breitbart illustrates my point neatly, although they strangely don’t comment on why America being littered with guns has failed to stop the 13 000 or so homicides that occur there each year.
Over the past couple of years the world’s attention has been focused on gun crime in America, and the American right-wing’s refusal to accept that when you have more guns than people in a country it is inevitable that you will have more violence; more homicides. Recently someone asked on Twitter if gun control actually worked, and in spite of the evidence that fewer homicides occur in countries that exercise gun control he still managed to come up with another excuse. He pointed out that homicide levels were inevitably lower in countries with lower populations, and so of course America would have more homicides. It’s not more “guns = more homicides”, he claimed, it is “more people = more homicides”.
So let’s look at India. India has a population of 1.252 billion, or roughly 4 times that of America. According to the Indian government there were 34434 homicides in India in 2012. That makes a rate of homicide per hundred thousand of 2.75 – high, but nowhere near as high as America.
India has quite tight gun controls. This article highlights the fact that there are only around 40 million guns in circulation. It also comments that some people feel that the Indian gun control laws leave people defenceless. In the article it is pointed out that there are around 5000 gun homicides a year in India – but when compared to a country with a smaller population such as America the evidence is clear. Most homicides in America are conducted with firearms, and even though American gun advocates would claim that free access to guns makes Americans safer, the evidence shows that Americans are in fact LESS safe.
In December 2014, following two violent incidents in Australia, I wrote this post. A gunman had taken hostage several people in a Sydney café – leading to several deaths – and a woman had killed 8 children in Cairns, Queensland.
In my blog, I invited people to look at some facts. For ease, I’m just going to copy that section over:
In 1996 after a gun massacre in Tasmania the Australian government introduced tightened gun control rules. Since then there have been NO mass shootings in Australia.
John Howard, the conservative Prime Minister who brought in the legislation thinks that the gun laws are a success. ‘“The gun laws that were brought in after Port Arthur massacre made Australia a safer place,” Howard said.’
In 2012 (hang on, when I come onto America I will post 2012s figures) there were 297 homicides in Australia, with 1.3 victims per 100,000 population.
And in Queensland, before someone stupidly calls for “knife control” – there is.
In America, gun laws are a mess.
In America, there have been frequent mass shootings since 1996 – to cite just one, the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut a couple of years ago.
In America we know that there are a gazillion guns, no-one knows the precise figure since no records are kept.
In 2012 in America there were 14 173 homicides, a rate of 4.8 homicides per hundred thousand head of population.
Before I move on to the Shooting in Paris in January, I’d like to look at what happened in America since those events in Australia something like a month ago. Since there are believed to be more guns than humans in America there has got to have been only a very few homicides, right? After all, if we believe the propaganda of 2nd Amendment advocates there is always going to be a good guy with a gun to stop any nastiness – especially over Christmas?
2nd January 2015 – 6 year old child dead, and two injured in Montfort.
2nd January 2015 – 3 dead in Modesto.
4th January 2015 – 2 dead and 4 injured in Roanoke.
7th January 2015 – 2 dead in El Paso.
24th January 2015 – 3 dead in Omaha.
You get the idea…
So, in France there was a mass shooting where, at the close of the emergency almost two dozen were killed in 3 separate incidents. And if one were to head over to Facebook then one would find exactly the same arguments laid out by the American right. That there shouldn’t have been a gun ban in France (there wasn’t) and that guns are good.
Let’s look at some French statistics:
Here we go, I’m prepared to accept Sporting Shooter Magazine as a valid source, and according to that esteemed publication there is no gun ban in France:
“In September of 2013, the French adopted a four-category weapon classification model recommended by the EU, that is a great simplification of the previous eight-category model. This simplification has in itself been a matter for celebration by Frenchmen.
Category A covers military weapons such as tanks, bazookas and machine guns that are not available to the public.
As a system of ministerial permit/‘end-user certificate’, would cover military equipment purchases in transit, and if, god forbid, Germany or France’s oldest enemy England were ever to attempt another invasion, I doubt if the invaders would seek to register its guns in France first! So I can only assume this has been included to cover equipment that still may be lurking for 70 or so years in garages, basements and barns across France.
Category B is for Military Style Semi Automatics (MSSA) such as the Kalashnikov, M-16, handguns, etc. These items are heavily regulated and available only by special permit.
Category C covers sporting shotguns and rifles, including semi-automatics with a 3-5 shot capacity. These are quite easy to get for anyone obtaining a hunting or target shooting licence.
Category D is divided into two categories. Category 1 is for single-shot or double-barrelled shotguns, and black powder firearms. Again, one needs a hunting or target permit for this. Category 2 relates to pepper spray weapons, stun guns, air guns generating energy of 2-20 Joules and decommissioned firearms. One does not need a licence for these weapons, although one must be over 18 years of age. Air soft paintball markers are not regulated, as they fall below the 2-Joule energy category.”
I’ve copied the above over from their website, but feel free to take a look for yourself here.
And now let’s look at homicides, in a country that according to a typical American gun-nut needs more guns to keep crime under control:
In 2012 there were 665 homicides reported, according to this article. That makes slightly over 1 homicide per hundred thousand head of population.
So the 6 countries figures compared look like this:
Australia – 1.3 homicides per hundred thousand head of population
Denmark – 0.8 homicides per hundred thousand head of population
France – 1.0 homicides per hundred thousand head of population
India – 2.75 homicides per hundred thousand head of population
Ireland – 1.72 homicides per hundred thousand head of population
America – 4.8 homicides per hundred thousand head of population.
In spite of the rhetoric by Americas gun loving commentators there is no evidence that more guns = fewer homicides. Quite the reverse: America is the only country on the globe with more guns than people, and the only “western” country with an obscenely high homicide rate.
Some information regarding the number of terrorist attacks in America, France and the UK can be found here.
This is the little snippet that I would like to highlight:
Between 2004-2013, the UK suffered 400 terrorist attacks, mostly in Northern Ireland, and almost all of them were non-lethal. The US suffered 131 attacks, fewer than 20 of which were lethal. France suffered 47 attacks.
Following the shooting in Copenhagen that left one Jewish person dead Bibi Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, called for a mass emigration of Jews from Europe to Israel, apparently over safety concerns. Israel actually has quite a high homicide rate, certainly higher than that of France or Germany. Israel has also recently relaxed gun controls a touch.
Israel – 1.8 homicides per hundred thousand head of population.