How emotion, ignorance and fear drive our firearms policies.
In the wake of the horrific Newtown, CT tragedy, where a young, apparently mentally ill, lone gunman forcibly entered an elementary school and slaughtered 26 people, including 20 small children, the nation has been bombarded by an avalanche of legislation for new gun restrictions. These legislative proposals have originated, by and large, from Democrat politicians and liberal activists who claim their intention is to stop “gun violence” in America. To advance such proposals several claims have been made in the public forum. Some of these claims are misguided at best while others are just outright false.
One such claim, upon which subsequent calls for further firearms and ammunition restrictions are based, is that mass shootings have increased exponentially over the past 30 years. This is a sometimes subtle idea promoted by left-wing publications such as Mother Jones, ThinkProgress, and the Washington Post. By focusing on only 30 years of data they are promoting this fallacy and the uninformed public is led to believe there is urgency to the issue and legislative action via further restrictions on personal rights and the expansion of governmental authority are the solution.
The facts are that mass murders in the United States have been occurring for a long time, the earliest being July 26, 1764 in Pennsylvania where schoolmaster Enoch Brown was killed along with 9 or ten of his students by Indians.
Others have been equally shocking. April 9, 1891- when 70 year old, James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary's Parochial School, Newburgh, New York, causing minor injuries to several of the students.
May 18, 1927 -Bath, Michigan School treasurer Andrew Kehoe, after killing his wife and destroying his house and farm, blew up the Bath Consolidated School by detonating dynamite in the basement of the school, killing 38 people, mostly children. He then pulled up to the school in his Ford car, then blew the car up, killing himself and four others. Only one shot was fired in order to detonate dynamite in the car. This was deadliest act of mass murder at a school in the United States.
But there are more…many more instances of mass murder, we just do not read or hear about them in today’s pop culture environment. And quite frankly, it is not a uniquely American phenomenon, as the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City would have you believe, nor are firearms the exclusive tool for such heinous acts.
“Defined as bloody events that occur within a 24-hour period and that involve a minimum of four victims, mass murders have occurred all over the world, in different times, societies and cultures.
Some of the earliest recorded cases include the 1893 killing with guns and swords of 11 people (including an infant) in Osaka, Japan, the 1914 shooting of 7 people in the Italian village of Camerata Cornello, not to mention the case of German spree killer Ernst August Wagner.
In 1913, he stabbed to death his wife and four children in Degerloch, near Stuttgart, then drove to Mühlhausen an der Enz where he opened fire on 20 people, killing at least nine, leaving two animals dead and several buildings burned to the ground.
In 1927, South African farmer Stephanus Swart shot dead at least eight people and injured three others in Charlestown, South Africa, before committing suicide.
In 1938 almost half of the population of the rural village of Kaio, near Tsuyama city in Japan, was murdered as 21-year-old Mutsuo Toi killed 30 people with a shotgun, sword and axe, injured three others and then shot himself to death.
Between 1954 and 1957, William Unek murdered a total of 57 people in two separate spree killings in the Belgian Congo.
He first killed 21 people with an axe, then shot dead ten men, eight women and eight children, slaughtered six more men with the axe, burned two women and a child, and strangled a 15-year-old girl.
More recently in the bloody timeline of shooting sprees, some of the most dramatic incidents include the 1987 Hungerford massacre in England, where gun enthusiast Michael Ryan shot 16 people dead and wounded another 15 before committing suicide, the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Australia, where 28- year-old Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 21 before being caught by police, and the 1996 school shooting in the Scottish town of Dunblane.
There, failed shopkeeper Thomas Hamilton opened fire at a primary school, killing 16 children and a teacher before turning his gun on his mouth.”
An overall analysis does not indicate we are awash in a wave of increased violent crimes committed with firearms.
“There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Boston’s Northeastern University, who has been studying the subject since the 1980s, spurred by a rash of mass shootings in post offices.
Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass murders in America, said that while mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929, according to his data. He estimates that there were 32 in the 1980s, 42 in the 1990s and 26 in the first decade of the century.
“Chances of being killed in a mass shooting, he says, are probably no greater than being struck by lightning.”
So in driving the misconception that mass murders are dramatically on the rise, it would appear that certain interest groups are attempting to “set the stage” while pursuing a national discussion on firearms regulation. That by doing so, the outcome in the minds of most folks will be predetermined…that the false notion of more restrictive firearm regulations will prevent such horrific tragedies in the future. In reality these further layers of firearm restrictions will accomplish nothing at best or at their worst, have the reverse effect which is to strip firearm ownership from the law-abiding citizen, further erode the rights guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment, and more importantly, ultimately make it easier for incidents like the Newtown massacre to occur as ordinary citizens who may be caught up in these events will be powerless to stop such evil, and must rely solely upon the arrival of law enforcement…which is often far too late.
Next up: the chilling legend of the “assault weapon”