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Sunday, December 30, 2012

5 Facts To Take Away From The Tragedy In Newtown

Andrew Criscione
Speak Liberty Now

The recent school shooting in Newtown that killed 20 children and 6 adults is a horrific tragedy, and
there are five very important facts to take away from it.
1.) Gun-free zones are extremely dangerous.
In Switzerland, where many adults carry semi-automatic weapons while in the course of their daily activities,
“the gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept.” (1) On the other extreme is Norway,
where guns are very tightly controlled. This enabled a shooter to casually take his time massacring over
70 children at the equivalent of a US Boy Scout camp. In a US Boy Scout camp, firearms are typically
prevalent among adults and older scouts. The shooter wouldn’t have made it very far.
Just a week before the Newtown shooting, a shooting in Oregon was stopped in its tracks by an armed
citizen. A psychopath with a large amount of ammunition was prepared to carry out a massacre. After
he got his first few shots off, though, an armed citizen with a legal gun confronted him. The killer
decided to take his own life quickly rather than risk a painful death in a shootout. (2)
And apart from lone serial killers on a shooting rampage, it’s important to realize that most gun violence
comes from organized crime. In Mexico, where it is very hard for civilians to own weapons, “More
civilians were killed [in 2010] in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city across the border from El Paso, Texas,
than were killed in all of Afghanistan.” (3)
When it is against the law to own a firearm, only criminals have firearms, and law-abiding people can’t
prevent a reign of terror.
2.) It is a scientific fact that banning guns does not decrease murder and suicide rates.

A Harvard study very clearly shows that,
“the available international data cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equal more death
and fewer guns equal less death. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show
that the way it matters is that more guns equal less violent crime.” (4)
Harvard University is not an institution known for being rabidly pro-gun, but it does carry out impartial,
peer-reviewed, scientific research. In its closing statement, the paper cites another study with similar
conclusions containing the admonition that,
“If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent
to ‘exonerate’ handguns, but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is
nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.”
3.) A horrifying loss of life leads to rash decisions.
It is easy to get emotional over the deaths of innocent people and pass poorly thought-out legislation in
an attempt to make sure they didn’t die in vain. A war was started with Iraq, justified by the lie that Iraq
had been complicit in the 9/11 attacks. On the day of the Iraq invasion, 76% of Americans supported the
war. (5) Only two years later, when the emotional dust from 9/11 had settled, most Americans thought
the Iraq War was a mistake. (6)
We see the same thing happening now:
“Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who serves the 8th District of New York, told liberal talk show host Ed Schultz that
horrible incidents like these are becoming more frequent and will continue until the president ‘pushes
Congress.’ When asked whether the tragedy could be the turning point for Democrats to finally pass
stronger gun laws, he said: ‘I think we will be there if the president exploits it’” (7)
4.) One death is a tragedy: One million deaths is a statistic.
Josef Stalin once remarked that, “If a single person dies in front of you, it is a tragedy. If a million people
die on the other side of the earth, it is a statistic.” (8)
As President Obama gave a tearful speech for the innocent children killed in Newtown, one wonders
why he has never cried about, yet alone mentioned, the hundreds of innocent children that he killed.
“Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are
innocent civilians, a new report claimed today. The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York
Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-
a-day’… Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-
The American media does not conduct interviews with grieving Pakistani families. Vigils are not held
nation-wide for each of these countless drone strikes. If one tries to demonize the president as a child
killer with a far higher body count than the fiend in Newtown, the viewpoint is typically met with
overwhelming hostility. The Newtown children are viewed as ours. The Pakistani children are viewed as
other, non-important, sub-human.
And the drone strikes in Pakistan pale in comparison to the number of deaths from the aforementioned
Iraq War. The US has not conducted a thorough body county there, but estimates are in the
neighborhood of one million. (10) A tragedy, indeed.
5.) “Pro-gun” Republicans are anything but.
The US Supreme Court has recognized that the Second Amendment is an individual right. (11) If
American adults have the individual right to “keep and bear arms”, and that right “shall not be
infringed”, then why are there thousands of federal gun regulations infringing on the right for American
adults to keep and bear arms? Can the right of free speech also be infringed? The Supreme Court
supposedly has a “conservative” majority, and “conservatives” are supposedly pro-gun,
but the Supreme Court said in its decision that these federal firearm regulations are legal.
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, “backed two gun-control measures that were
strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association: the Brady Law, which imposed a five-day waiting
period on gun sales, and a ban on certain assault weapons”. (12)
The greatest danger to the right to bear arms comes not from the Democrats, who do not have a
majority, but from the Republicans, who might cave and pass “common sense” gun control legislation
such as requiring mental health screenings for the purchase of “assault weapons” (a term I find to be a bit
redundant, like “death gun”). Of course, this would mean closing the gun show loophole, and it would
mean the registration of all purchased guns. Registration is always the prerequisite to confiscation.
Governments cannot confiscate unregistered weapons.
So, one might ask, would the disarming of the American public be the end of liberty in America? If it is
commonly accepted that the Second Amendment does not have to be followed, then what would keep
the government from respecting the First Amendment? England, which has only had gun control for a
few decades, has already lost its freedom of speech:
“It has resulted in a string of controversial arrests. They include a 16-year-old boy being held for
peacefully holding a placard reading ‘Scientology is a dangerous cult’, and gay rights campaigners from
the group Outrage! detained when they protested against Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir
over its stance on gays, Jews and women.” (13)
In China, which has had gun restrictions for nearly a century, critics of the government are sent to
labor camps. (14) China has a bill of rights and democratic constitution similar to the US (15), but the
government has no incentive to follow it: The government’s militia is not regulated by the rule of law, since its citizens
are disarmed.
In the twentieth century alone, 274 million people were killed by their own governments after their
governments had disarmed them. (16) Many say that, “It can’t happen here.” But this is an arrogant
form of American exceptionalism, especially since it has happened here with African American slavery
and Native American genocide, both inflicted on groups with low access to firearms.
Andrew Criscione is an economics enthusiast: He is constantly trying to figure out why people perform the economic actions they do and what the seen and unseen consequences of those actions are. In addition to writing for "Speak Liberty Now," he is a moderator of the economics page "I bet Ludwig von Mises can get more fans than John Maynard Keynes" on facebook and has contributed to the Capitalism Institute and the Mises Institute's blog "The Circle Bastiat."
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