Posted by: jmtoriel | April 19, 2007

Making sense of illogical violence…

It is difficult to make sense of an illogical crime. There is now evidence of a copycat pattern occuring, tragically, in schools (especially in April and May) because it is shocking and the media exposes the drama (in the end they profit – when it bleeds, it leads). What especially concerns me is how many occurances are in proximity to a previous location that would spark the idea and how there is a tendancy for these occassions to happen in times of war.

Someone that is as unbalanced as the shooters are, in these tragic incidences, often conclude that a solution to their isolation and overstimulated ego is to take matters into their own hands by gaining control and destroying innocent victims. Who are more innocent than children/young adults in school? And what obtains greater and instant responsive control than a gun?

Here is a list:
Enoch Brown school massacre – Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States; July 26, 1764
Poe Elementary School Attack – Houston, Texas, United States; September 15, 1959
University of Texas at Austin massacre – Austin, Texas, United States; August 1, 1966
Kent State shootings – Kent, Ohio, United States; May 4, 1970
Avivim school bus massacre – Avivim, Israel; May 8, 1970
Jackson State killings – Jackson, Mississippi, United States; May 14-15, 1970
Ma’alot massacre – Ma’alot, Israel; May 15, 1974
California State University, Fullerton Library Massacre – Fullerton, California, United States; July 12, 1976
Parkway South Junior High School shooting – Saint Louis, Missouri, United States; January 20, 1983
Stockton massacre – Stockton, California, United States; January 17, 1989
École Polytechnique Massacre – Montreal, Quebec, Canada; December 6, 1989
University of Iowa shooting – Iowa City, Iowa, United States; November 1, 1991
Concordia University massacre -Montreal, Quebec, Canada; August 24, 1992
Simon’s Rock College of Bard shooting – Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States; December 14, 1992
Richland High School shooting – Lynnville, Tennessee, United States; November 15, 1995.
Frontier Junior High shooting – Moses Lake, Washington, United States; February 2, 1996
Dunblane massacre – Dunblane, Scotland, United Kingdom; March 13, 1996
Sanaa massacre – Sanaa, Yemen; March 30, 1997
Pearl High School shooting, Pearl, Mississippi, United States; October 1, 1997
Heath High School shooting, West Paducah, Kentucky, United States; December 1, 1997
Jonesboro massacre – Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States; March 24, 1998
Thurston High School shooting – Springfield, Oregon, United States; May 21, 1998
Columbine High School massacre – Littleton, Colorado, United States; April 20, 1999
W. R. Myers High School shooting – Taber, Alberta, Canada; April 28, 1999
Heritage High School shooting – Conyers, Georgia, United States; May 20, 1999
Santana High School – Santee, California, United States; March 5, 2001
Appalachian School of Law shooting – Grundy, Virginia, United States; January 16, 2002
Erfurt massacre – Erfurt, Germany; April 26, 2002
Monash University shooting – Melbourne, Australia; October 21, 2002
Rocori High School shootings – Cold Spring, Minnesota, United States; September 24, 2003
Southwood Middle School tragedy, Miami, Florida; February 3, 2004
Red Lake High School massacre – Red Lake, Minnesota, United States; March 21, 2005
Dawson College shooting – Montreal, Quebec, Canada; September 13, 2006
Platte Canyon High School shooting – Bailey, Colorado, United States; September 27, 2006
Amish school shooting – Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States; October 2, 2006
Weston High School shooting, Cazenovia, Wisconsin September 29, 2006
Henry Foss High School – Tacoma, Washington, United States January 3, 2007
Beirut Arab University shooting – Beirut, Lebanon; January 25, 2007
Virginia Tech massacre – Blacksburg, Virginia, United States; April 16, 2007

Bottom line –> Crime and violence are incresingly present in our societies and our schools.

So do we blame the shooters and the media? Or do we set stricter regulations to prevent future shootings?

Guns and bullets are very easy to legally (or illegally) buy in the US, Columbia, Mexico, Phillipines, Brazil, Lebanon, Israel, Yemen, Australia and Finland and Switzerland (where it is compulsory). Coincidentally, these areas have the highest rates of violence with guns. Does this relate to the culture or the accessibility to guns?

Well, arguably, both.

Not having a criminal record, I can go into a gunshop or a gun seller’s home in, say, Virginia without any checks other than Interpol (police) and buy an automatic rifle or handgun. I don’t have to register it and it would be a legal firearm.

The production of weapons in the US is a very lucrative industry. They are not only making these weapons to hunt animals (ligitamate with hunting regulations), but to kill people (illigitimate). What is the current record of successful cases of self-defense anyway?

When I go back across the border into Canada, I am asked if I have any guns and I would say “yes”, as a lawful citizen, and the gun would be confiscated. If it is not a semi-automatic or automatic rifle or a pistol, I would be able to register it, and I would have to wait before I could use it, otherwise it would be illegal and I would not get it back and possibly pay a hefty fine. I would also most likely be recorded in the system for greater border scrutiny. Does this take away my freedom and privilege? I don’t think so. In fact, I feel safer having these laws in place.

However, the Conservatives, currently in government in Canada, are beating the drums of security and law enforcement. They have drastically increased spending in the military (no longer for Peace Keeping) and law enforcement, while saying that the gun registry is too costly and takes away the rights of freedom (the NRA assisted in financing their campaign and openly support reducing restrictions currently enforced). This is the same line used south of the border by the Republicans.

I disagree. I think that gun ownership should be more, or at least, as restrictive as consuming alcohol or driving a car. Otherwise we are robbing the freedom of innocent bystandards that fall prey to unstable gunowners who decide to take revenge on their personal hardships when they explode. The answer is not to promote greater access to guns, so others can “defend” themselves against these lunatics/terrorists. Building walls and adopting greater security (traditional response that has not worked according to the above list), but to set stricter regulations (much like those used for conservation and the environment) directed at the source – obtaining the guns in the first place.

Let’s look at some stats corelating death rates and gun laws (Source: W. Cukier, Firearms Regulation: Canada in the International Context, Chronic Diseases in Canada, April, 1998 (statistics updated to reflect most recent figures, January 2001):

Access to Small Arms/Firearms and death rates

• There is limited information on the total mortality and injury caused by small arms in conflict but research shows that when weapons are in circulation, death rates remain high even after conflict has ceased.

• One study compared the rate of weapons injury 5 years before the region came under uncontested control and 1 1/2 years after they came to power. Weapons injury declined only 20-40%. Even after peace was established there was no disarmament and the weapons remained in circulation.

• Another study in Afghanistan examined the circumstances of injuries for six months. One area of the country was at peace, while there were armed conflicts between factions in other regions. There were high rates of non-combat injury, even in the peaceful region: 80 deaths per 100,000, 50% of those were firearm related.

• The link between accessibility to firearms and death rates has been suggested in a number of studies. One study which examined the link between gun ownership rates and firearm deaths within Canadian provinces, the United States, England/Wales and Australia concluded that 92% of the variance in death rates was explained by access to firearms in those areas. Another review of 13 countries showed that there was a strong correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates and suicide rates. No evidence of substitution was found.

• In another study based on a standardized survey of victimization in fifty-four countries, gun ownership was significantly related to both the level of robberies and the level of sexual assaults. The relationship between levels of gun ownership and threats/assaults with a gun is also strong.

• This is underscored by comparisons of the United States and Canada. The costs of firearms death and injury in the two countries have been compared and estimated to be $495 (US) per resident in the United States compared to $195 per resident in Canada. Canada has always had stronger firearms regulation than the United States, particularly with respect to handguns. As a result, Canada has roughly 1 million handguns while the United States has more than 77 million. While there are other factors affecting murder, suicide and unintentional injury rates, a comparison of data in Canada and the United States suggests that access to handguns may play a role. While the murder rate without guns in the US is roughly equivalent (1.3 times) that of Canada, the murder rate with handguns is 15 times the Canadian rate.

Glorifying guns and the gunculture is assisting this trend of protecting the rights and freedoms in obtaining and using guns for sport, but who defines the restrictions in the behaviours of the gun owner?

Don’t let the shooters go out with a “bang” that sparks the media attention that they are seeking. Isn’t that what the terrorists did to provoke a war on their turf?…

Accidents happen, we can prevent future tragedies with stronger legislation.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for acknowledging the incident at Parkway South in 1983. I was there that day, along with my brother. I was in 7th grade at the time, by brother in 8th. My brother sat next to David during the hour before the shooting. Until that day, none of us had never heard of nor conceptualized an actual event whereby a fellow classmate would be so compelled to instigate such chaos.

    Although I agree that gun laws need to be tightened down, the point at which a young adult decides they are going to “procure” a weapon is way too far down the path. We need to ensure that our school administrators are doing everything they can to observe and rectify potentially troubled kids, and fellow students need to be more aware of the consequences of their regular taunts of kids whose shoes aren’t the latest Nike marketing blitz or whose moms don’t drive a new Benz.

    Such is life “in the big city”, but it doesn’t have to be.

  2. Two new studies show why some people are more attractive for members of the opposite sex than others.

    The University of Florida, Florida State University found that physically attractive people almost instantly attract the attention of the interlocutor, sobesednitsy with them, literally, it is difficult to make eye. This conclusion was reached by a series of psychological experiments, which were determined by the people who believe in sending the first seconds after the acquaintance. Here, a curious feature: single, unmarried experimental preferred to look at the guys, beauty opposite sex, and family, people most often by representatives of their sex.

    The authors believe that this feature developed a behavior as a result of the evolution: a man trying to find a decent pair to acquire offspring. If this is resolved, he wondered potential rivals. Detailed information about this magazine will be published Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    In turn, a joint study of the Rockefeller University, Rockefeller University and Duke University, Duke University in North Carolina revealed that women are perceived differently by men smell. During experiments studied the perception of women one of the ingredients of male pheromone-androstenona smell, which is contained in urine or sweat.

    The results were startling: women are part of this repugnant odor, and the other part is very attractive, resembling the smell of vanilla, and the third group have not felt any smell. The authors argue that the reason is that the differences in the receptor responsible for the olfactory system, from different people are different.

    It has long been proven that mammals (including human) odor is one way of attracting the attention of representatives of the opposite sex. A detailed article about the journal Nature will publish.

  3. Make peace, not war!

  4. I was at the Pearl High shooting on 10-1-1997. I testified at the trial of the shooter, Luke Woodham (well documented on CNN.com).

    You asked about the evidence of self defense cases where guns are concerned… How about the lives at the Junior High in Pearl MS the Joel Myrick saved by using his LEGALLY owned hang gun to detain Luke Woodham (whose own written journals detailed his plans to continue his rampage at the Jr. High).

    Just another interesting fact for you:
    Washington DC has a gun ban that does not allow citizens to own handguns at all. Over the last 30 years, the national average of gun violence in the US has gone DOWN consistanly (by about 30% or higher depending on the report) EXCEPT in one place…Washington DC where it has been on the rise; to th ealarming sum of 40%.

    I am a proud gun owner, and will never register my firearms with any government agency.


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