(17b) Oscar Pistorius and weapons

Oscar Pistorius, a South African without legs who became a sports hero after winning gold as a 17 year old boy at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, then winning golds and setting new Paralympics records in the 100m and 200m as well as a world record in the 400m during the Paralympic Games in Beijing while reaching in London the semi-finals of the 400m of the Olympic Games and winning a few weeks later two more gold medals at the Paralympics. He also won at many other sport events and is known all around the world under the nickname "Blade Runner" while earning millions as a consequence. That is until last week when he was again in the news although this time for having killed his girlfriend.

He admits he shot his girlfriend dead but says it was an accident because he thought there was a burglar in the house. I read he was very sad during the hearings at the court and sobbed often and although he has been released on bail, it seems he was one of few people who was not celebrating his release. I will not judge him as the court has to decide about what happened and his future.

But I will return to gun ownership as I already wrote about this before. I saw some interviews recently of people defending gun ownership; those interviewed were really scary, shouting at the interviewers (e.g. Piers Morgan interviewing Alex Jones) when they dared to question why guns should be owned by anyone. Some of their claims are listed here:
  • Gun lovers claim it is not weapons that kill but humans who use them. They claim therefore guns should be allowed but the people using them should be punished. Indeed, humans do the killing but I would say it is easier when there are weapons at home.
  • They also say that mostly crazy people are the one who kill, such as those receiving medical care for mental problems. If indeed crazy people kill, I think it will be more likely that those who do not receive medical care when mentally ill are causing troubles. I also wondered whether the people who were interviewed should not receive some medical care.
  • If we don't have guns, we can't protect ourselves against tyrannical governments. Of course, this may be true but I hope the people saying this will never be elected to run government.
  • Finally, when a person is bullied (e.g. at a school) and a weapon is not far away, it is much easier for the person to take revenge. In this case it is not only the person who kills who is guilty but I think also society who didn't stop the bullying (often claiming bullying makes you strong while I think that is rubbish, we no live in the jungle).
In all cases it seems clear to me that when there are no weapons around, it is less likely people can use them.

Back to South Africa. Mr Pistorius may have accidentally killed his girlfriend and thus one can expect him to be very sad with her death. Still, if he didn't had weapons at home, then he would not have been able to kill her when he mistook her for a burglar. If indeed there may have been a burglar who killed his girlfriend than he would have lived with the notion he may not have been able to prevent her killing, but she would have been killed by someone else while now he will have to live with the knowledge he was her killer, even by accident.

And if indeed he wanted to kill her, then when weapons are not allowed, he could of course still have tried to buy weapons illegally but this would have been much more difficult unless from criminals. Or he had to kill her with knives and then it would have been easier to determine his guilt as he would not be able to claim he thought she was a burglar.

Similarly in society. About 15 years ago few police in London carried weapons and it was rare policemen were killed in gunfire. Indeed, in general criminals didn't need weapons as police couldn't shoot them. After some criminals used weapons, police started to carry weapons too, and as a consequence more criminals started carrying weapons. Because police carried weapons, they sometimes used them and thus more criminals started using weapons to prevent police could use theirs. Today there are quite a number of policemen in the streets of London carrying machine guns to protect the public. I hope few people will be in the neighbourhood when these machines are used to protect society: many innocent people may die. Because within one second an enormous amount of bullets can be fired and this in a quiet uncontrollable way as they are carried. Thus, police may kill many people trying to protect them. In addition, criminals may be able to steal these weapons from the policemen carrying them and thus have these heavy weapons themselves. But I also believe police can't go back to the days without guns because criminals got used to carrying them. However, police may decide against carrying machine guns unless when really necessary (to be determined on an individual basis) as those guns when used may be worse than the violence caused by criminals.

In summary, the above shows numbers of weapons in society should be as little as possible, making it harder to kill by accident or anger while it will be more difficult for criminals to get weapons as they can't steal them from individuals or buy them in shops. As a consequence police may be able to carry less powerful weapons and thus potential criminals will feel less threatened and need fewer guns themselves. However, I am realistically enough this can't happen over one night, and that first weapons have to be handed in, preferably on a voluntarily basis but with force if needed to disarm criminals and gangs while the industry promoting weapons should be silenced. I also understand that people who have guns at home may be scared giving them to police out of fear for those who continue carrying and using them. This shows that ones many weapons are in circulation, the problem becomes very complicated. And those who defend themselves by killing a criminal know it will be investigated very carefully to determine whether it was really self defence or murder (e.g. when the person is shoot while running away).


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