Tragically, there was another school shooting at the beginning of this week. This one was in Finland, and their second in 12 months which left 10 dead, 11 including the shooter. We can expect the cry for more gun control, both domestically, and in Finland, so I pulled out a post I've been saving due to not having time to finish it.
First I want to address the Finland shooting. Finland is third in the world in terms of gun ownership per capita, behind the US, and Yemen. This is because hunting is huge in Finnish culture, as one person puts it, "the national sport". And yet more people are killed by knives than guns (according to that article). The youth are raised around weapons, they can legally own a firearm at 15 with parental permission, and for handguns they must be a member of a gun club. Yet until 12 months ago, they'd never had a tragedy like this.
The conclusion we should be able to come to, is its not the gun's fault, its the human's. You have a person capable of cold-blooded, calculated murder, and no amount of laws will stop them from carrying out what they want to do. It requires human intervention: Parents who care, friends who realize when someone's hurting inside, kids that are strong enough in their self-image that they can get through school without bullying. As many are so fond of criticizing the War on Terror, its more than just people with guns, its a social problem that requires compassion, and understanding. However, if those fail, you had better be prepared to fight for what you love, because when a person reaches the utter mental darkness these killers were in, there's going to be no reasoning.
Its worth pointing out that in this most recent case the killer had homemade bombs with him, as did the Columbine shooters, if they had no access to guns, they would have still been able to kill.
But that brings us to Gun Control.
Gun Control: At its heart, the idea is fairly basic, to control the guns that are in public circulation so that bad people can't get them. While I know people who would argue against any limitation on weapons, I think most will agree that there are people out there who shouldn't own firearms, just like there are people who shouldn't be able to drive, people who shouldn't be allowed to practice law, and people who shouldn't be allowed to practice medicine. One obvious answer here is felons, if you're convicted of a violent crime, you forfeit your right to bear arms.
Unfortunately, in recent years gun 'control' goes way beyond 'control'. Now people want a gun ban in the name of gun control in some places, such as the District of Columbia (recently overturned), and Britain. Yes, this will keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, unfortunately we have to remember that these guys who shot up their schools were not law-abiding. They committed many acts of cold-blooded murder, and no gun ban would have prevented that. Now, it would have made it harder to get the gun, but as we can see from Britain, it would by no means have stopped them from getting guns. There violence went up once private citizens lost the right to bear handguns. I've heard first hand accounts from friends that if they ever did something wrong, and the bobbies wanted to stop them, they'd simply run, since the worst they had to face is a night stick, and they could out run the cops.
Now, I'm going to play to my (intended) audience for a while. You know I'm not just some crazy gun nut, I also fancy myself a (white hat) hacker, and know most of the arguments for and against music|software piracy. What does that have to do with gun control? Lets examine DRM, or "music piracy control". DRM is a system whereby a company can have "absolute" control over their intellectual property, in this case lets say music. If I went to any hacker, and said that Congress passed a law requiring DRM on every digital music download, to prevent piracy, do you think they'd be put out at all? No, they'd laugh, and explain how in 3 minutes or less they'd be able to bypass the DRM (I'll refrain to linking to those news stories... I value my freedom). I know, I know, this is completely unrelated! Or is it?
In both cases we have an arbitrary control system, X, designed to stop the user from doing Y. In the case of gun control, X is "legal ramifications" and Y is "buying guns", and in the case of DRM, X is "DRM", and Y is "copying the music". In both cases it is the honest people that suffer here from a lack of freedom and security. In the case of guns its physical security and the freedom to defend yourself, and in the case of DRM its the lack of freedom to use what you've bought and the security that if your computer dies you can have a backup. So why is it that one of these is a perfectly smart move, and the other will never work?
As a security professional I know that there's no such thing as a secure system, I don't believe that for a computer with limited physical access and a decent firewall. So why would I believe that any country, or even any city, could pull off a complete gun ban, eliminating the ability for criminals to get their hands on them? Now, in the case of my computer, I plan for Bad Things to happen. I keep backups, I make sure there's spare hardware around just in case, and I look at my security logs to make sure. But how do we plan for Bad Things to happen when the gun ban falls through? Should we sit around, and pray the cops come quicker than the 5 minute average? I've had my car trashed before, had two friends of the criminal take their time, and walk away right past the cops who took 10 minutes to get to my call. Do I have faith that they'll be that much quicker when I call and say someone's held me up at gun point? Or that Someone's broken in and has a gun? Of course not! I'm not saying citizens should take the law into their own hands, just be given a chance to defend themselves until the cops can show up.
Deal with the Problem
For the sake of the argument, I'll say we have a completely 100% secure gun ban in effect in America. This won't stop violence, as Britain has shown us, there must be another cause. In the end, crime is a human (not social, humans created society, therefore its a human problem at its root) problem, and will be around as long as humanity is. What we, as a society and a race, need to do is recognize those human problems, and combat them, not the weapons used. When guns are banned, knives will be used. When knives are banned, shanks will be made (look at prison), when all sharp objects are eliminated from our society, ropes will be used to strangle (again, look at prison). There's no end to violence, the best we can hope to do is recognize what causes humans to become killers, and fix it.
The most obvious period, is during childhood. There's a recurring pattern of these school shootings where the kids doing the shooting were "outcasts" in their school, or were ridiculed, or bullied. Those are by no means reasons for murder, not even for retaliation! But, those killers should stand out to school counselors as people who need extra concern (not pills, actual human care), and stand out to the students as people who need their compassion. We're a society who wants to do away with moral and personal responsibility, when what we should be doing is recognizing that a successful society will care for each other.
Comments (One response so far)
In conclusion, I feel that the true control needed in our society, is that of controlling ourselves. Guns are regulated enough, we need to turn ourselves now to the people next to us in society, that man on the bus who's always looking sad, that driver who just cut you off, the quiet kid in your class that you all think is just a bit odd. Take it upon yourself to say hi, or not flick off the driver, or ask him to sit with you at lunch. Not because this may prevent a shooting, or a suicide, or an incident of road rage, just because they're humans too, and we all know the dark places a human mind can go to when depressed. I guarantee you, if we spent as much time and focus on helping those next to us in society (I don't mean hand outs, socialized health care, or any of that, I mean honest to goodness one citizen helping another kindness) then violence will go down in a way we'll never know through straight gun control.