Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Causes Massacres?

You can divide the causes into two categories- what motivates the inadequate to commit the crime and what factors enable him to actually do it.

The availability of guns does provide a partial answer to the second part of the question. The day before the killings in Connecticut a Chinese primary school had been attacked in a similar way but in this case the weapon was a knife rather than a gun. A lot of children were injured, some severely, but no one was killed.

That said the more important aspect is surely what makes someone want to commit a massacre- it isn't simply the case that someone out there will always want to do something like this. After all gun ownership has been widespread for generations in the USA and some other countries yet these kind of spectacular rampages are a relatively recent phenomenon. There seems to be a desire for notoriety and a perverse kind of fame as well as a kind of narcissism in which only their anger and hurt feelings matter.

Update: Just realised that I wrote a similar but better written post a couple of years ago.


banned said...

With Columbine you could just sort of comprehend why a crazed teen might slay his classsmates after years of supposed torment and the killing of 77 'young' Norwegian bolshevicks by Brevick has an insane logic but in this case, the killing of infants not even to punish his mum, since she was already dead, simply has no sense.

Having said that neither should it be used as as an argument for or against gun control, without guns a smart kid like this one would simply have aquired sarin gas instead.

banned said...

ps. I am usually in favour of these people getting killed during the course of their crime just to save us all the bother of convicting and punishing them but in this case justice would have been better served by him being captured alive, imprisoned and daily gang-raped by bad blokes for a couple of decades before serving the rest of his sentence without parole.

Anonymous said...

I think that the theory that less guns equals less gun crime makes sense.
It is a great shame that the facts
Are so inconvenient.

Ross said...

Banned- it's harder to get Sarin gas than guns though? And yeah, death really isn't an adequate punishment.

Anon- I agree that there is very little correlation between gun ownership and overall murder rates.

But I do think that these kinds of rampages are the exceptions because the perpetrators are otherwise law abiding and would not have access to guns if they weren't legal (at least not without a lot of planning).

Anonymous said...

"Ross said...
Banned- it's harder to get Sarin gas than guns though? And yeah, death really isn't an adequate punishment.

Anon- I agree that there is very little correlation between gun ownership and overall murder rates."
About Sarin - believe me I did a PhD in Chemistry and I don't think it is that easy to make without getting caught or killing yourself.

Thanks for agreeing with me about gun ownership.
According to Wikipedia (so might not be true) not everyone in Switzerland can buy a weapon. To buy from a shop you need -
"Everyone over the age of 18 who is not psychiatrically disabled (such as having had a history of endangering his own life or the lives of others) or identified as posing security problems, and who has a clean criminal record (requires a Criminal Records Bureau check) can request such a permit"
I think not selling to people with mental health problems could be a good idea in the US.

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James Higham said...

The availability of guns does provide a partial answer

This is the single greatest fallacy in this whole affair. It is precisely because guns were not available that he was able to come in and do that.

The crim and the nutter will always find the gun. The ordinary person is undefended.

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