• Ya Don’t Say! Mass Murder Can Be — and Is! — Committed Without Guns

    Surge Summary: By obsessing on guns versus other facts about mass-killings, people are missing a more important argument on how to prevent these violent tragedies.

    We’re focusing on the wrong thing.

    For a solid week now – actually, for a whole lot longer – the focus has been on the role of guns in mass murders. History, however, reminds us such atrocities can be carried out quite effectively with methods other than firearms. Many methods, in fact.

    Currently, Clayton Cramer is creating an encyclopedia of mass murder in America. He’s catalogued 504 incidents so far – which is both informative and kind of depressing.  Common methods used to perpetrate these abominations have included “axes, hatchets, blunt objects, knives, hanging, drowning, poison gas, poison, fire, and aircraft (and not just on 9/11).” How about scythes and blowtorches?

    He writes,

    Of course, the axes and hatchets were around because they were needed in an age when people cooked over wood stoves. I can imagine axe-control fanatics in 1890 arguing that “an axe in your home is more likely to be used against you than against an intruder.” And perhaps it would have been true: The “Church of the Sacrifice” slaughtered dozens of families with their own axes in the early 20th century.

    Even today, there are a lot of non-firearm mass murders in America: In USA Today’s collection of mass murders for the period 2006 to 2017, nearly a quarter were done without guns. And most of them you have probably not heard about because they do not advance the Left’s cause of disarming the peasants.

    In 1973 an ejected customer at a gay bar in New Orleans killed 32 by going down the street and buying a can of cigarette-lighter fluid. 87 people were murdered in New York City in 1990 by a villain upset with his ex-girlfriend — so he went to his homicidal work with one-dollar’s-worth of gasoline. In 1986 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, union officers trying to pressure an employer used camp-stove gas to murder 97. Just a month ago a man in Port Angeles, Wash. burned his trailer, killing his wife and three children.

    Did any of those atrocities capture headlines for a week?

    Nations with strict gun-control laws still have mass murders. One man stabbed to death five people with a kitchen knife at a Calgary party. After the 1996 Port Arthur mass murder, Australia banned most semiautomatic rifles, but they still have mass murders: eight siblings killed in a mass stabbing in Queensland; five bludgeoned to death in Sydney in 2009. Mass murders by arson are also a problem in such countries. Palace Backpackers Hostel in Childers, Queensland, was intentionally burned in 2000, killing 15. The 2011 Quakers Hill Nursing Home fire killed eleven, set by a nurse after police questioned him about drug abuse.

    Japan has mass murders. In 1995, a sarin poison-gas attack killed 13 and injured many more. In 2016, a former employee of a nursing home stabbed to death 19 of the patients. Eight students were stabbed to death at an Osaka school in 2001. A combination vehicle/stabbing incident killed seven in Tokyo in 2008. A father burned his wife and five children to death in Tokyo in 2017. Last month, 35 died when a man set fire to an anime studio.

    Well. I thought Australia and Japan both were models of civility and peacableness owing to their onerous gun-control policies.

    Where’s the international outcry?

    Two things are true about China: it is another society that boasts very strict firearms laws; and it also suffers mass murders. In 2014, 33 were left dead in a Kunming terrorist knife attack.143 were injured – 143! – by knife. A series of school attacks in the early 2010s killed at least dozens in total. Not all of these crimes met the mass-murder criteria (five or more killed in one attack), but some did: eight schoolchildren were killed with a knife in Nanping in March 2010; nine from Hanzhong perished with a meat cleaver in May of that same year.

    Recall: China is a totalitarian society; China hardly sweats the defense of personal liberty. Freedom concerns are not factored into the gun-policies of the People’s Republic. Yet … hideous crimes of violence still occur in that land.

    More non-firearms mass murders: 22 dead in Manchester, England two years ago, courtesy of explosives. Two terrorists used bombs to kill 33 victims at a Brussels, Belgium airport and subway station.

    There have also been motor-vehicle mass murders in Europe and Australia: 84 murdered with a truck in Nice, France; 12 in Berlin, Germany; five in Stockholm; 13 in Barcelona, Spain; eight by truck and knives in London. While these were terrorist mass murders, others have been mental-health-related, such as an attack in Melbourne, Australia, that killed six.

    In the U.S., the core problem underlying most mass murders is people with severe mental illness, who in 1960 would have hospitalized before chalk marks had to be drawn around bodies. If we solve the mental-illness issue, the guns do not matter. And focusing on the guns directs the severely mentally ill to other weapons.

    Could it be the fixation on the tool – i.e., a gun – is a distraction from dealing with true root causes of mass-killings (as opposed to “mass-shootings”)?

    History and the numbers suggest it well could be.

    Image adapted from:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


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