Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    Also worth noting each state in the US has different laws. So it’s easy to have really different gun laws. That allows some states to “trial” more rigorous gun laws and demonstrate that the end of the world didn’t immediately occur.

    I understand these weapons were purchased in NJ and used in CN, both of which have relatively strict gun laws relative to some other states.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state)

    Here's homicides per capita by state in 2004:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state

    Someone must have graphed and drawn conclusions between those two datasets.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss,

    The thing that has been twisting my noodle is this. How would you ever get those weapons out of circulation if the US Goverment decided to go ahead and legislate for that?

    Imagine, against the odds, that the US decides to limit or eliminate assault weapons. How, when many of those weapons are in the hands of militarist/millenist/survivalist/libertarian tea party wingers/2nd amendment nuts (etc), is the government going to take those weapons away? I foresee Waco x many if that happens.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • James W,

    Mother Jones has done some good work on the facts of mass shootings:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation

    (Most surprising fact: most of the guns were acquired legally.)

    And of course, Charlie Brooker's Newswipe on the media coverage of mass shootings, which we trot out everytime this happens because it's still so on the money:

    It comes down to three things: gun control, mental health, and the media. You have to make it harder for those who want to do this to do it as effectively by limiting their access to semi-automatic weapons; you have to make more help available to those who need it, and monitor them better; and the media has to act more responsibly when reporting these things and stop turning the murderers into heroes (we all know Kebold's name, who can name a victim?).

    Tackle one of these things without the others and I don't see the problem going away. But with the divisive politics in the States, good luck tackling any of them.

    Since Jul 2008 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Maui Smith,

    This sad event reminded me of another sad event that has mostly been forgotten. New Zealand has had a similar school tragedy; in Waikino in 1923. I only know of it because it was my grandfather’s first day of school and he was one of the children that escaped.

    I can’t get link to work from the Papers Past site but the headline is:

    “Tragedy in School. Madman With Loaded Revolver Opens Fire On The Children Two Dead; Nine Wounded”

    See Papers Past > Auckland Star > 19 October 1923 > Page 5 > TRAGEDY IN SCHOOL

    Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Attachment

    Family Christmas card ... US style:

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 101 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan, in reply to Jonty,

    Santa looks shit scared...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    Attachment

    Peace and joy at Cristmas:

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 101 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    There can be unhealthy side effects when you dose a pop culture to encourage every woman to be a warrior princess and every man to be a righteous superhero with god on their side.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    The US, remarkably, is entirely absent from the list of 129 mass family killings.

    The wikipedia page to which you link begins with the following:

    This section of the list of rampage killers contains all cases where most of the victims were relatives of the perpetrator.

    For familicides in the United States see: List of familicides in the United States
    For familicides in Europe see: List of familicides in Europe

    So not very remarkable, then.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Maui Smith,

    "Tragedy in School. Madman With Loaded Revolver Opens Fire On The Children Two Dead; Nine Wounded"

    Man, that's some story! Wonderful straight and understated reporting.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Some people are very angry about the mother's framing:

    The article doesn’t divulge, or even acknowledge, that its subject might have his own perspectives, beliefs and motivations that are worth mentioning. His mother’s perspective, mainly on his ‘evil eyes’ with their ‘calculated pupils’ is the only one given. Thus the child is presented solely as a problem, or at best, as a two-dimensional contradiction of his “behavioural problems” and his “intelligence” and not as a person with any more than shallow emotions. By reducing ‘mental illness’ to ‘outward behaviour’ the article dehumanises the mentally ill and completely glosses over the inner mental life and experiences of those with mental illness.

    That framing did disturb me a bit -- which is why I wanted to think about why someone would think their troubled son is a potential rampage killer -- but the rebuttal manages to be more offensive than what it's trying to rebut.

    This is a pretty familiar dichotomy in autism-world. Parents can be misguided or in denial, and Aspie activists can be remarkably insensitive about the real challenges parents face.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Someone must have graphed

    Here ya go

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/

    Note the strong negative correlation between trigger locks assault,weapon bans and safe gun storage rules versus gun deaths.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3417 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    American gun violence is deeply ingrained in the American culture of exceptionalism and in the American way of seeing the world. Therefore, to me, American gun violence and American exceptionalism are closely linked, insofar as American exceptionalism is usually expressed through the unrestrained violence of the “American way of war”.

    This appetite for (once unleashed) unrestrained violence – the cultural tendency of Americans to regard violence and non-violence as sharply different conditions rather than as existing on the same graduated scale – is a real marker of American culture since at least the early nineteenth century. This view of violence as different from non-violence is expressed in the (to us) massive over-reactions of US law-enforcement, and the way that violence, once embarked on, is carried on through to its most extreme logical conclusion. Add to that mix the American fascination with technology (much of the American romance with guns is driven by an infatuation with the technology of the weapons). And now combine that with a culture used to unrestrained access to the resources of an entire continent that translates to a belief in the efficacy of unlimited resources (shooters typically have many, many guns) and a penchant for large scale, continental solutions to conflicts that involve the extravagant use of firepower and it becomes easier to understand just why America loves guns, and why that love of guns produces so many extreme acts of gun violence.

    P.S. Surely, one can find no clearer example of American exceptionalism that seeing President Obama pause for twelve seconds and wipe away a tear when talking of the Kindermord in Connecticut. I don’t for a second doubt his genuine emotion; But it is an emotion at the killing of innocents reserved exclusively for Americans.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Stewart,

    Also, I was horrorstruck by the pro-gun lobbyist who stated that the gun-control people had these children's blood on their hands, for preventing the school authorities from having guns that could have been used to kill the perpetrator earlier.

    Stewart: I agree - but then I realised that the mother, the first victim, the gun nut, with all those guns, disproves that point for ever - being prepared and having a lot of guns does not protect you from other gun nuts, if anything it makes you more vulnerable

    Elsewhere today we decided that the US needs to license ammunition - as much as you want at the practice range but you can only have 3 bullets at home - don;t want to be part of a gun massacre? stay away from where all the ammunition is

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2174 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Maui Smith,

    “Tragedy in School. Madman With Loaded Revolver Opens Fire On The Children Two Dead; Nine Wounded”

    See Papers Past > Auckland Star > 19 October 1923 > Page 5 > TRAGEDY IN SCHOOL

    Do I remember correctly that the gunman had survived a horrific head injury? Was not in his right mind.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Autism advocacy groups have been busy deflecting the inevitable autism/loner/masskiller theme. Here are statements from two of the major US based ones, ASAN and GRASP.

    Michael Moore has tweeted that he is not going to do any interviews on it all following this July 2012 interview in which he calls for urgent action.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Tristan,

    Why the NRA in this? because they need to be part of the solution we need to bring them along or nothing will change

    Unfortunately they’re too Socially Darwinistic and born-to-rule to get on board. It’s “my way or the .50 calibre highway”, ans as Tom S mentions above, strongly linked with the American Revolution and Pax Americana. One of the speakers they recently had was none other than the fundy ex-Army general William Boykin.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4353 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    So not very remarkable, then.

    Gah! Right you are. The formatting is confusing – “list of familicides” isn’t inclusive of familicides in the US, but “list of workplace killings” and school killing are inclusive of the US.

    The corrected paragraph:

    We appear three times on Wikipedia's list of familicides that took place outside the US and Europe (Stephen Anderson is absent presumably because although his spree was triggered by a family dispute, some of his victims were not friends or family, and the Bain family murders because the toll fell one short of the Wikipedia benchmark). The US appears three times on a separately defined international list of the 15 worst "domestic violence" familicides -- China appears four times -- and has its own list of 110 familicides with six or more victims.

    So the US has plenty of mass family killings, but isn't quite as much of an outlier there as it is in other rampage categories. Feel free to check me on that, folks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King, in reply to wendyf,

    Heston "..from my cold, dead hands."

    I prefer to remember Heston saying "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape."

    Since Sep 2010 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Maui Smith, in reply to Lilith __,

    Yes. Following the newspaper trail, he was originally sentenced to death, then this was commuted to life imprisonment before, on appeal, he was found not guilty due to insanity.

    Since Oct 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I will concede that this latest incident is probably as much a failure of mental health systems as gun control systems.

    I'm still unconvinced by that particular angle. From the sounds of things, Adam was a near-adult with social difficulties living/supervised by his parents at home. Is that somehow less than we would expect to be done?

    I realise others in this thread can actually answer this question, so I don't intend it to be rhetorical: What more could have been done from a mental health angle?

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    The thing that has been twisting my noodle is this. How would you ever get those weapons out of circulation if the US Goverment decided to go ahead and legislate for that?

    I think the Australian experience would be the one to look to. Essentially, they moved rapidly to strict controls. They used a "buyback" scheme to compensate people for the guns, and had an amnesty period, after which it became very difficult to legally own the most dangerous kinds of guns. It wasn't really hard to crack down at all*.

    *ETA: Well, they did have to pick the right time. The Port Arthur massacre was a particularly horrific event.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8589 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    the mother, the first victim, the gun nut, with all those guns, disproves that point for ever - being prepared and having a lot of guns does not protect you from other gun nuts, if anything it makes you more vulnerable

    IIRC owning a gun in America makes you several times more likely for a gun to cause your death. Not necessarily at someone else's hand, but I'm not sure "easier suicide" is a great motto for gun ownership. C.f also Kasandra Perkins, recently killed by her NFL boyfriend. The couple owned several guns and she enjoyed going to gun ranges. But who is prepared to pull a gun on their partner in their own home, in front of their child?

    My main experience with Americans and guns is that even in very liberal areas with tight gun control there are many people who believe, deep down, that owning a gun does or would make them safer, despite the above statistic. They'll acknowledge in conversation that having a gun in the house makes it easier for someone to die, but it doesn't seem to sink in. After this latest shooting, people have advocated that the safest society is one where everyone is armed. That idea - that the best thing to do to make children safer is to create a place where everyone is prepared to use lethal violence at any minute - sounds more like the DRC than a more perfect union to me. But it has appeal for some people. That's...really hard to understand.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss, in reply to BenWilson,

    I recall the change post Port Douglas. However I don't think that gun ownership was as widespread in Australia. Nor were there quite the same strong cultural associations between guns and some fringe-y groups that very well might use those arms to defend their constitutional right to bear arms.

    Anyway, premature. You'd have to get this sort of measure past Congress, Senate and the Supreme Court. It might even take a constitutional amendment.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The formatting is confusing – “list of familicides” isn’t inclusive of familicides in the US, but “list of workplace killings” and school killing are inclusive of the US.

    I do note that per capita, our three familicides puts us above the US, as well, as measured by wikipedia consensus.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

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