Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Variety Pack Part 1: The Correcting

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

First off, the Virginia Tech Massacre. Both Josh and Morthos have commented on other blogs that the scenario that "If everyone was allowed to have guns with them, someone would have been able to shoot the guy before too many people died." is "totally imaginary" in Josh's case, or "might equally have ended up a bigger, not smaller, bloodbath." according to Morthos.

Let's clear this misconception up. Situations where people have been given the right to defend themselves against armed maniacs have occured before, and have resulted in fewer deaths than there would have been. Such cases include:

January 16, 2002 Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges. Mikael confront Peter Odighizuwa who had killed six people.

Joel Myrick confronts Luke Woodham in late 1997 four and a half minutes before the police arrived.

On February 12th of that year, a gunman walked into a mall in Salt Lake City - like Virginia Tech a "gun free zone" - and started randomly killing people until Kenneth Hammond got his shotgun and pinned him down until police arrived.

March 5, 2001, Charles Williams kills two and wounds thirteen before being confronted with an armed Robert Clark.

Gun laws and gun free zones fail for the same reason why the War on Drugs and Prohibition fails<. Criminals don't care about the law, and when they ignore the law to go on a murderous rampage it is innocent civilians, many of whom with the ability to defend ythemselves and others, who suffer.

Regarding the debate at NotPC, I think David S has it summed up pretty well. I'd probably just add that Peter might be misunderstanding just what Josh and I are saying about evil because we analogised it with creationism. Josh and I were merely pointing out that the two are similar in that they both don't explain anything. I presume Peter also thinks we are saying that "Evil" and "Creationism" are both equally mythological notions best left to fairy stories - in short he's missed our point.

Righto, on to Hewligan. I'm going to side with everyone you have being arguing with and claim that new Zealand does not have a constitution, or a Bill of Rights. To my mind, both of the above are not just laws but special laws. They gaurantee your basic rights, set out how the state is structured and run, and are harder to change or amend than other laws. In proper constitutional nations like the United States, these pretty much apply. The Constitution comes first, at (at least in principle) limits the president, and the Supreme Court whose job it is to uphold the Constitution, has the final say. We do not have this in New Zealand. As Helen Clark said on election night in 199 "The State [i.e. not the constitution or Bill of Rights] is sovereign]."

We have a "constitution" only to the extent that the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea is "Democratic" - in name only.


That Morthos Stare said...

In re your examples; yes, you can list cases when armed members of the public saved lives. Conversely, examples can be made where an armed response by members of the public inflamed situations. I'm not sure whether either litany proves anything.

David S. said...

"We have a "constitution" only to the extent that the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea is "Democratic" - in name only."

While this is literally true, reality is far from what this implies. It really doesn't matter what a country's law actually says and how it's laid out, it's the influence of the law and what public's perception is like. New Zealand has a fairly educated, intelligent population. Who most importantly, actively takes part in the democratic process.

The USA on the otherhand, due to their almost strictly bi-partisan system, their congressional system, their overinfluencial media and their massive multicorperate economic structure is IMO, far far less democratic, dispite their constitution (which is probably why it's currently being dismantled, slowly but surely)

As for the topic of gun control, I don't actually think should be an issue here at all. Other countries have similar gun control laws to the US, but their populations don't go around killing each other.

The US is probably too immature as a nation to have access to the weapons they have, that's fairly obvious. As with any teenager who abuses a privilage, it would be nice to be able to take away that privilage until they learn some responsibility, but with the number of guns in the country I don't think that's realistic. Gun control laws wouldn't stop people from having them, unless they were law-abiding.

As for us, keep them out please, loosening our laws would just lead to an escalation of violence. The US is not a good role-model for a promising young country like NZ.

Hewligan said...

The only difference between the NZ Constitution/Bill of Rights and what you have described is that you claim they must be harder to change than other laws.

Now, you may think that's desirable, but by no definition I've ever heard or for either a bill of rights or a constitution are those necessary requirements.

We do have both a constitution and a bill of rights - they're right there in the law. You may not like how that's structured, but that doesn't mean they somehow don't exist.

And I've already explained why I think this structure is actually the better one.

Josh said...

OK, instead of "imaginary", how about we make it "hypothetical"? Which any such discussion of how things could have been at VTech remains.

Given that (for at least the first few rooms) the first people knew what was going on was when they were getting shot at, and that students would have actually needed to have been carrying their guns on them in their lectures to have been able to mount any sort of defence, I'm not convinvced that things would have played out differently had VTech not been a gun-free zone.

I think the most obvious thing that could have prevented it from happening was if the relevant gun laws were tightened just a wee bit so that, say, people with histories of mental illness were excluded from being able to firearms.

Josh said...

Well, OK.

Josh said...

Also, I was actually saying that evil is a "mythological notion best left to fairy stories". I was, though, thinking of "evil" as some sort of independant force or intrinsic quality. Other commenters in that thread claimed that by "evil" they just meant "really bad and doing morally wrong things"; that it's just an adjective that applies to certain freely taken actions, and by extension to the people who perform those actions.

However, the whole point of the post that everyone was commenting on was PC favourably quoting a man who said that the VTech shooter was "qualitatively different" from other students...