(17d) Weapons - already more then one year later

It is already just over one year since the shooting in Newton, Connecticut, USA where 20 children and some adults were killed at a school. In the meanwhile there were other killings, amongst them a shooting at a Washington DC navy yard where 12 people died. Even as recently as a few weekends ago when a 4-year old girl killed her 4-year old cousin after she found a loaded gun under her grandfather's bed. And although President Obama called for changes in the law, not much happened although it seems that 43 gun control laws have passed (in some states) compared to 93 laws that expand gun rights. If the death of 20 children can't result in tougher gun control laws, then we may forget any new legislation soon.

USA

The journalist Henry Porter even called in the Observer for an intervention by the international community to stop even more death amongst Americans and foreigners due to the increasing numbers of weapons (although he may not be serious, it shows the desperation of some). He called it a civil war as it seems that over the past 45 years more people may have been killed by gun owners than during US wars. However, for me, although indeed we start to live more and more in one large community, good behaving communities should not always correct communities that misbehave. That doesn't mean other countries or the UN can't express their concerns, certainly when too many weapons in such a large country may cause troubles in other countries (and thus if the USA may one day split in smaller entities than the problem becomes smaller as sane states will not allow uncontrolled gun ownership).

However, I think this is mainly a problem for the American people and not the world (the world can't intervene in every problem although that doesn't mean there can't be consequences for badly behaving countries such as reduction of trade). I think if Americans accept the risk they may be killed because they want relaxed gun laws and carry weapons, so be it as long as no other countries get involved. Although it is a pity that people who understand the stupidity of that policy also die because they are innocent victims, or children.

Foreigners can leave the country if they feel unsafe after trying to convince the American people that stricter gun laws are favourable. Americans can vote during congressional and presidential elections for people who promise to vote for stricter gun control, even against carrying any weapon. The electorate can question their politicians and ask them whether they are in favour or not of relaxed gun laws while making it clear politicians will not get a vote if they are in favour. Then politicians may get the message that people want change and then the law can change from within and not via an external power that will not be accepted unless the problems become too big and people beg for intervention. And other countries can take actions by not selling weapons to the US (although the US makes enough weapons for themselves and other countries).

Because, those who support the right to carry weapons already hate international organisations such as the UN (unless the UN does as they are told) and will resist their intervention, even fight it with weapons if they think that is the only way to defend their right to carry weapons (and as a consequence many people die) although that may help convince people that weapons should be banned from the streets (such as Starbuck asked its customers to stop carrying weapons in their shops; let's hope not a mad weapon admirer may disobey this one day). Indeed, after the past shootings, those in favour of weapons were defending their right to carry weapons like madman, shouting at critical interviewers. And as long as the situation is not too bad and in general police can protect the people, intervention will be seen by most people as an occupation and thus people will resist; however when too many people die, intervention will be wanted. Therefore, intervention is only possible when the people ask for help.

It is many people's free will to continue supporting the right to carry weapons and thus the international community can't do anything as long as it is an internal problem. But even President Obama can't do much as he acknowledged when even Congress opposes stricter laws, some changes as logical as stricter ownership. And this after the death of so many innocent children. Each time he wants stricter rules he angers those who carry weapons, certainly because the President is a black man and thus should not tell the white what they should do. Thus, not only intervention from outside causes resistance and thus it is very difficult to make changes. Recently, President Obama called again for more actions against gun violence while I'm sure the other side will insist even stronger that the only solution is arming more sensible people to stop mad people with guns, while more guns mean that after shootings more people are able to take revenge.

And the leader of the gangs that sell weapons, i.e. Wayne LaPierre from the National Rifle Association (NRA), is still not calling for stricter gun control as he claims the recent killings are not because people have weapons but because the mental health system fails. It seems some of the murderers had mental problems and were not recognised as such and thus could carry weapons (or steal them from homes with weapons). If he is correct that the mental health system is failing (as can be expected because not every unstable person will be recognised and thus receive treatment (many gun owners even blame antipsychotics as the reason why some people are mad while those medications are intended to cure the ill) while because of budget restrictions many mentally-ill people no longer receive treatment), then I reason that when free gun ownership is not allowed, unrecognised mentally-ill people still can't shoot people. Nevertheless, it seems about half the US population are against stricter gun laws while increasing numbers are starting to blame the mental health system and thus probably also the numbers of people following Mr LaPierre's advice of putting more "good guys with guns everywhere". Because when the "bad guys" can carry guns than people have to defend themselves, certainly when desperation during an economical crisis can drive certain people mad and the numbers of shooting may go up (e.g. against employers who fire employees). For me, those who blame mentally-ill people for killing others while they force budget restrictions on the health system, they are the real bad guys. Indeed, mentally-ill people often don't realise what they do while normal people can take actions to treat the ill so they are protected from themselves and we from them; thus reducing help while refusing to accept that fewer weapons are part of the solution is madness.

People should anticipate so they can try to prevent that certain things happen in order to prevent that troubles need to be solved afterwards. When there are too many weapons, then even Mr LaPierre may one day regret he promoted free weapon ownership when he or family or friends get involved in a shooting. That day, he may become even more dangerous indeed, reducing the numbers of weapon owners with the use of weapons. Because then he may consider himself as the good guy who reduces the numbers of bad guys.

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Europe


I maintain it is an internal problem. Most countries in Europe chose a different direction and weapon laws are stricter: people can't carry weapons on the streets although I am sure many have weapons at home. Indeed, weapons can be bought in shops located in main streets as the picture demonstrates. Still, people who kill in Europe often use different kind of weapons such as knives or guns and not semi-automatic weapons and thus mostly fewer people die in attacks. That doesn't mean Europe doesn't sell weapons as Europe is a major arms dealer, including to its neighbours in the unstable and very close Middle-East.
Shop selling weapons, including knives and guns, in one of the main streets of Brussels. I am not sure whether all weapons are useful as some seem to be antique and more for collectors.

And Mr LaPierre may be right for Europe when he claims that often the "bad guys" have weapons and thus the "good guys" need to defend themselves. This can indeed be dangerous such as in Greece where it seems some extreme-right Golden Dawn MPs even carry weapons in Parliament and pictures were shown of members posing with weapons. Because then actions are needed by governments to protect the public (although some of the public will condemn actions against the party while some may try to silence opponents). Recently, after the murder with a knife of the left-wing singer Pavlos Fyssas by someone claiming to support the extreme right party and their ideology, there were actions. The murderer was soon arrested while police raided some Golden Dawn offices (by the way, the Norway mass murderer Anders Breivik predicted more violence against the left but he was considered an idiot). Even opinion of the public moved against Golden Dawn. Then some idiots from the far left killed two members of Golden Dawn and many people concluded left-wing people are as dangerous as those on the right and the mood moved (slightly) back to the right. Because the police intervened after the death of the singer, certain individuals should not have taken the law in their own hands and thus they too need to be arrested, certainly because it provided evidence for the right to mark all on the left as lunatics.

I think Europe should tell Greece it can receive help fighting Golden Dawn if they need help because Greece is part of Europe. Still, Europe should also identify why extremist parties in Greece but also in other European countries are gaining support. And then Europe would recognise herself. To stop those parties, the EU could, as it did in the past, fund projects such as research, schools, hospitals, etc. that directly affect people and result in jobs instead of the EU giving money to Greece so it can give it to bankers in other countries while forcing Greece to cut jobs and benefits for its own people. When people have work and earn a living, they may consider this as something positive and thus see the benefits of the EU, although many may not like the idea of having to pay taxes. Then the hate that Golden Dawn spreads may stop (e.g. I read they threaten immigrants, Muslims and gay people although they can't say this too openly (and probably women should fear them too)) and the hate can reverse to something positive.

Removing Greece from the EU when the political situation becomes dangerous is not an option for me unless the Greek would decide it is better out the EU and then this should be allowed. It may even be easier for Greece to solve its problems outside the EU while Europe can continue offering help. Afterwards the Greek may even decide to return. But I fear leaving may not be accepted because Europe may decide it shall remain as one, even against the wishes of the majority. Because European countries always tried to unite Europe and then install a centralised government, resulting in resistance by European countries as is happening.


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Weapons for fun are possible


Can't people have some fun with weapons? Yes, they can. They can go to licensed shooting clubs where the guns are stored behind locks until people want to use them for fun. Here people can come together and practise a little, shooting at targets such as objects catapulted into the air or shadows on paper. But at the end of the game, the weapons are returned to the club and people return home without weapons. Then, few weapons will be in homes and most weapons at home will be illegal, resulting in a safer society.

This also means that anyone with a gun at home is punished for having illegal weapons. Gun lovers should be happy with the possibility of being able to shoot in clubs where they can use them while at home they can't use them. And although this will not be for immediately, if politicians repeat this message often enough people may get convinced that no weapons in a society is a safer society while there are safe possibilities for using weapons. But those who want weapons all day will be much more difficult to convince and may angrily resist.

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In conclusion, I think countries should accept the consequences of their own decisions. The USA always defended the right to carry weapons even when there were people who warned for the future consequences. As the majority prefers the freedom to carry weapons against all arguments, people start feeling the consequences, certainly now when more people have heavier weapons. But it may also result in bullies stopping bullying if sufficiently high numbers of people may start taking revenge for being bullied.

I think policies in Europe are better concerning weapons and as a consequence fewer weapons are available (although it may have resulted in less-open societies concerning gun ownership). Of course, this didn't mean there were no problems with some individuals or groups. Therefore, governments need to enforce restricted gun ownership to protect the public and when there are organisations, even political parties, that have weapons, then these should be dismantled because the "good guys" without weapons need to be protected from the "bad guys" with weapons to prevent the "good guys" need to defend themselves from the "bad guys".

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