Like most Britons (and perhaps unlike most libertarians) I feel instinctively more comfortable in a society where gun ownership is uncommon. Perhaps it helps that our police don't routinely carry weapons (though that's no consolation to Jean Charles de Menezes).
Nevertheless, I'm sickened by the attempts by President Obama and the BBC to exploit the Sandy Hook killings to further the cause of gun control.
Were his tears real?
In a subsequent speech, Obama came out fighting:
We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change ... what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless? In the face of such carnage? ... Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
Perhaps I'm just sensitive to his arrogant and patronising tone, but it all seems very sinister. The warmth of a small child's embrace is indeed a special thing, but I hate to see it abused by Obama's speech writers.
Mises.org today republished an article from 2006 (presumably originally published in the wake of a previous shooting):
Before we even get to the main article, the introduction by Daniel J. Sanchez makes some sobering points:
The heart-rending nightmare that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday was not only a product of the pure evil of one individual, but also yet another complete failure of the State. The precious children lost were victims, not only of an individual monster, but of a collective monster. The State made it incredibly difficult for their parents to avoid sending them to mass camps (modern schools) every day, all day. And once there, the State completely failed to keep them safe. More than that, by making the Sandy Hook mass camp a "Gun-Free Zone", the State actually made it impossible for anybody (staff, teachers, parents) to protect them.
A sign that says, "Gun-Free Zone" serves not as a warning to murderers, but as a welcome mat.
Tragedies and atrocities inspire an intense desire in the human heart for radical action and change. The radical change that follows Sandy Hook should not be to disarm the general public even further, which would only lead to even more atrocities (at the hands of both independent criminals and the State), but a mass rejection of state schooling. In the wake of this tragedy, parents should pull their children out of public schools for the sake of both their education and safety. And they should cry out, with the protective passion that comes with being a father or mother, for the immediate and complete abolition of all restrictions on home-based and private education. It is time for parents to take their children back from the State.
The main article addresses one of the points that I'd been wondering about: what if the teachers had had guns?
in 1985, only eight states had right-to-carry laws — laws that allow a person to automatically get a permit, provided he passes a background check and completed a training course. Today there are forty states that have some version of these laws. Lott's examination of the data showed that "from 1977 to 1999, states that adopted right-to-carry laws experienced a 60% drop in the rates at which the attacks occur and a 78% drop in the rates at which people are killed from such attacks."
Moreover, he points out that before 1995, it was possible for teachers to bring guns to campus in many states and that "the rash of student shootings at schools began in October 1997 in Pearl, Mississippi after the ban," (my italics).
I haven't investigated the facts for myself, but it seems plausible enough.
Meanwhile, CNN is looking across the pond:
In a country where the constitution is treated with such contempt - where a War on Drugs is pursued without any equivalent of the 18th amendment - how long before American citizens will be disarmed?
How much of a defence do hand guns or even assault rifles offer against helicopter gunships, tanks, and neutron bombs? Not so much, really. But it does make oppression a little less convenient, and sometimes that's all it takes.
Today's Mises.org article features a quote from Justice Joseph Story on the 2nd amendment [Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (1840)]:
One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms