Stop and think – and you will realise that banning guns is a waste of time
00:03 GMT, 23 December 2012
Ask yourself this. Even if you had a house full of guns and ammunition, would you then murder a close relative, shoot your way into a nearby primary school and massacre as many children as you could
Of course you wouldn’t. You would have to be mad to do such a thing, and mad in a rather special way.
And if you were mad in that way, and had no gun, you might use other weapons. There are recent instances in various parts of the world of what appear to be attempted mass murder by car, or by knife.
Take what happened just over a week ago in Chenpeng village school, Henan province, in China. Min Yongjun stabbed an elderly woman before hurting 22 children (many very badly) with a kitchen knife.
The debate rages on: The National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre delivers remarks during a news conference while demonstrators protest
So shall we ban kitchen knives Or cars Actually, most mass attacks in China – which like almost all despotisms has very tight gun laws – are done with either knives or explosives. The important thing is that these attacks still happen even with gun laws.
What I am asking you to do here is to think. Don’t be herded into the standard liberal opinion, that the Sandy Hook School tragedy is the fault of America’s allegedly crazy gun laws.
Actually, Connecticut’s gun laws are a good deal tighter than Britain’s were before 1920. British gun law before then was so relaxed it made Texas look effeminate. Did the streets of Edwardian London echo to gunfire Were school massacres common No.
Were guns restricted here because of crime No, they were restricted because the panicky British government thought there might be a revolution.
In Switzerland, to this day, most homes contain powerful military weapons and ammunition. But gun crime is extremely rare there (unless you count suicide). Yet these massacres are a feature of modern life. They happen in countries such as Britain and Germany that already have severe gun laws.
America was shocked and devastated by the brutal attack, which killed so many innocent children and adults
Guns have been around for centuries, and high-capacity magazines have been around for decades. Guns in general are more controlled than ever. So a thinking person must look somewhere else for an explanation.
While the BBC and the papers have raged about guns, nobody has looked at the people who did the murders. There has been no great pressure to find out about Adam Lanza. Most reports make it plain that he was in some way mentally abnormal. Some suggest he may have been on one of the many powerful and poorly tested ‘medications’ that modern medicine casually inflicts on bored children who fidget in class, or on people who are just unhappy in various ways. There is, as yet, no clear answer. There may never be, as the authorities and the media just aren’t interested enough. One of the Columbine High School killers, Eric Harris, was on such medication (as we know thanks to a Freedom of Information inquiry), and the other, Dylan Klebold, may have been taking mind-altering pills at some point before he acted, though his medical records are sealed – inexplicably, given the importance of the information. In many other similar massacres, pills are involved – Patrick Purdy, culprit of the 1989 Cleveland school shooting, and Jeff Weise, culprit of the 2005 Red Lake High School shootings, had been taking ‘antidepressants’.
So had Michael McDermott, culprit of the 2000 Wakefield massacre in Massachusetts. So had Kip Kinkel, responsible for a 1998 murder spree in Oregon. So had John Hinckley, who tried to murder President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Then there are the illegal drugs that have been effectively decriminalised in much of the USA and Britain, especially supposedly ‘peaceful’ cannabis, now increasingly correlated with severe mental illness. ‘Medical Marijuana’, in effect the lawful sale of dope on medical pretexts, became legal in Connecticut earlier this year. Funny that, as we panic about guns we get laxer about mind-altering drugs.
Jared Lee Loughner, who murdered six people in Tucson, Arizona, had at one time been a heavy cannabis user.
And then of course there’s our old friend ‘care in the community’, under which people with quite severe problems are pushed out on to the streets so that mental hospitals can be closed and sold, and their staff made redundant.
There you have it. You, and MPs, and the media, can choose to think seriously about this subject. Or we can run with the flock bleating for tougher gun laws – and then wonder why it is that the massacres keep happening anyway.
A smokey journey
The lovely picture of an old locomotive let loose on the London Underground, wreathed in its own home-made cloud, awoke memories of childhood Christmases that always began for me with a long steam-hauled journey through a glorious winter landscape.
There’ll never be anything like it again, but simply thinking about it makes me feel warm all over.
A newly restored steam engine travels through Baker Street Underground station in a practice run to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inaugural public passenger journey
F. Scott Fitzgerald, in what for me is the most moving part of his book The Great Gatsby, wrote of ‘the thrilling returning trains of my youth’. The phrase is dead right.
How lucky I am to have travelled on them. Whatever memories this emotional time of year conjures up for you, I hope you have a very happy and blessed Christmas.
Real Tories are right back to UKIP
Many of you said kind things about my article last week on the disappearance of the Britain we used to know. One of them wasn’t Boris (real name Al) Johnson, Mayor of London and – he hopes – future Tory leader.
Some of you inexplicably think that Ambitious Al is a Great Hope, and shares your fears. He isn’t and he doesn’t. He’s another liberal in Tory clothing. He chose to mock and caricature what I had said, and complacently asserted that in some magical way the Olympic spirit or the Queen would make all these millions of new migrants become British.
No wonder once-loyal Tories are switching in battalions to UKIP, if this is what Toryism offers them. UKIP certainly has its problems – but the claim that voting UKIP will prevent a Tory victory in 2015 is false. The Tories cannot possibly win in 2015, or ever. That’s yet another reason why they need to be replaced with something better. Voting UKIP is a good way of bringing that about.
Vindicated for defending Andrew Mitchell
Back at the end of September, I defended Andrew Mitchell, though I am no fan of his and disapprove of his swearing.
I said the police seemed to have got above themselves, and that the Chief Whip was mainly in trouble because he rode a bicycle instead of sprawling in a chauffeured car.
I added: ‘This episode will, I hope, rebound hard on those who seem to me to have abused their positions to make trouble for a Minister. They should remember who employs them, and who pays their wages.
‘They are not paid to leak such matters to the papers. This is lawless personal spite, not law enforcement.’
I feel vindicated.
If you want to comment on Peter Hitchens click here