Friday, October 06, 2006

"Guns don't kill, people do"?

This is a follow up to my posting on the school shooting in the US earlier this week and mainly in response to Phil and KGS's comments. Perhaps discussing guns with Americans is a bad idea, but like looking at a car crash, I just can't help myself... ;-)

So the "guns don't kill, people do" saying came out as it was sure to sooner or later. I really do understand what the slogan is trying to express - that someone has to make the decision to pull the trigger - but does anyone else feel that even accepting this, it's still a bloody stupid saying? Of course guns kill people, thats why there so popular in the army for example!

To take the point more seriously, what the saying implies is that if someone wants to kill someone else, they don't necessarily need a gun to do it. This is of course true but it does rather miss the matter of the efficiency with which guns kill. In my original post I mentioned the horrific Dunblane massacre where 16 little kids where killed along with a teacher in a school, by a madman with guns in Scotland ten years ago. Non-British readers will probably have never heard of Lisa Potts, but just four months after Dunblane Ms. Potts was at the nursery in Wolverhampton where she worked as a nurse, when an equally deranged man entered the kindergarten where she worked and tried to kill children with a machete. Ms. Potts defended the children in her care with her bare hands fighting off the attacker. Despite nearly loosing an arm in this act of incredible bravery, she forced the man to flee (he was later captured and imprisoned for life). She saved all the children, none suffered more than minor injuries. Lisa Potts was later awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian medal for valour in the UK. I have no doubt that the teacher in Dunblane, Gwen Mayor, would have fought just as bravely to defend the children in her care, but she never had a chance as she was shot dead.


KGS said...

My prior argument admitted that guns are indeed more lethal than knives. That is not in dispute here. I also observed the fact that the pro-gun lobbies mantra of "guns don't kill people do" is a simplified means the GL uses to convey their message to the public.

What you are focusing on is the disparity in gun related homicides deaths with that of knife related homicides. Fair enough, the disparity is an undeniable reality, but what about the difference/disparity in knife vs. club beating related homicides or even club beatings vs. bare knuckles?

All methods are in one way or an other more lethal than the next, and shows up in homicide statistics which reflects the more favored method of murdering someone given the circumstances and the "revenge angle". In the context of a club/bat/tire iron beating, the "simplistic" phrase of "Clubs don't kill, people do" is entirely relevant, though it offers little consolation to the relatives of the dead victim that knife murders far outnumber club beating related murders.

What you are interested in, is the fact that most multiple murders involve a single gun, which is a very brutal fact, but the statistics also prove that the overwhelming percentage of homicides in the US involve a single victim. You are most at risk from a member within your own family or a friend, than an unknown assailant. Depending on the geographical location of the society in question, I would wager that the knife related homicides (according to demographic proportions) would outnumber US knife related homicides, solely because the lack of available guns....but people are being murdered nonetheless.Where there is a will there is a way.

KGS said...

Clarification, ["All methods are in one way or an other more lethal than the next"] should be actually read:

"All lethal methods are in one way or another more numerous than the next least favored lethal method"

Phil said...

My point with the "lasers don't kill martians, martians kill martians" sentence was that going after the lasers won't stop the problem, you go after the martians. Banning lasers or selling them at the liquor store won't make too much difference to a nation with a history of violence.

Charly said...


Name ONE rational reason why it is necessary to have access to assault rifles for any purpose intended by the U.S. Constitution?

Hunting: No, horrible hunting weapons compared to bolt rifles
Personal Protection: No, power of cartridge makes overpenetration likely. In homes hand guns and shotguns work more efficiently.
Well regulated milita: They have them, it's called the Nat'l Guard.