The difference between Min Yingjun and Adam Lanza: a knife and a gun

Two deranged men go on rampages in two schools and in one case there are no deaths and few serious injuries and in the other, twenty-seven people die.

When Min Yingjun went on the rampage at an elementary school in the Henan province village of Chengping on Friday morning, his attack would surely have been just as deadly as Adam Lanza’s killing spree in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had Yingjun been carrying similar weapons. But however murderous someone’s intent, a knife simply can’t inflict as much harm as a gun.

In the wake of America’s latest mass killing, the media’s interest is inevitably focusing on the identity of the killer, but what might be a more meaningful profile would be on the weapons he used — weapons that as has already been reported, were legally purchased.

It wasn’t Lanza’s troubled childhood that killed twenty children; it was precision engineering performing exactly in accordance with its designs. The bullets flew through the air precisely in the direction they were being aimed and were just as deadly as their manufacturers intend them to be. Who wants to take the credit?

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” says President Obama. But having had four years to witness how this president operates, it’s easy to tell when he’s making a vacuous statement. He’s advocating collective action — doesn’t take the lead — and says it should be ‘meaningful’, a phrase loaded with limitless possibilities and zero commitments. His words were greeted with skepticism:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York spoke for many gun-control advocates, who have been frustrated and disappointed by Mr. Obama’s failure to embrace the issue, when he said he wanted to hear much more.

“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who is a leader of a group of mayors against illegal gun ownership.

“We have heard all the rhetoric before,” Mr. Bloomberg added. “What we have not seen is leadership — not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”

The problem is, even the majority of the advocates of gun control are ducking the central issue: the idea that owning a gun deserves constitutional protection.

The right to bear arms sounds like a libertarian form of self expression. It’s like saying, I can’t exercise my birthright as an America unless I can own a gun; that an America which curtails this freedom will no longer be a land of the free.

But is this really why so many Americans own guns? On the contrary, American gun ownership is not an expression of freedom; it shows just how much fear permeates this society.

Americans own guns to protect themselves from other Americans and even at its circular extreme in order to protect their right to own guns.

But don’t children have an even more important right: to be able to go to school without getting shot?

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Comments

  1. im not saying there should or shouldnt be gun control – for all i care, americans can continue killing themselves as much as they like, theyre not my favourite species..

    but in the last couple of years, theres been more deaths from tasers than all mass shootings combined..

    faux outrage ( + fake obama tears ) much?

  2. The Electronic Village blog has been documenting deaths from “non-lethal” tasers in the U.S. — 181 from 2009-2012 as of mid-September.

  3. It’s not only mass shootings that Mercans like; 11000 gun murders in 2011. The POTUS and Congress, along with State leaders, encourage killing of people in many parts of the world (threats to the Mercan way of life, of course) but their names are not important to mention.

  4. 300,000,000 plus people here in the U.S.A. Mass killings = ??? per year?? Government wages war in other countries, killing more civilians/innocents, ??? The social structure here in the U.S.A. is being strained by politicians at the behest of the oligarchy not wanting to invest the money needed in education, reform, health. Perhaps it can be stated that the Government kills more people then anyone else. The fact that there are so many guns in the hands of the civilian population today, may also be why we can still call ourselves a free country. Good or bad, the results keep the idiots-oligarchs-at bay, otherwise, the U.S.A. could resemble Gaza. This isn’t crazy talk, but has a basis in reality. We can argue the subject, but in the present sense, there is too much emotion involved. Gun control or no guns period, may sound good on paper, but in reality, it allows the few to control the masses.

  5. Norman – I see you fall into the camp who approaches this issue on a statistical basis. The number of Americans who die in mass killings is trivial in relation to the size of the population. True. But why assess the danger posed by the easy availability of guns by simply looking at the number of people who die in mass killings?

    In at least ten states in this country, there is a greater risk of being killed by a gun than there is of being killed in a motor vehicle. Given that the population is far more frequently exposed to the risks posed by vehicles than that posed by guns, this statistic underlines the danger posed by guns.

    The fact that the use of motor vehicles is highly regulated has not given rise to a libertarian movement advocating for the right for Americans to drive without licenses or insurance. So why is the regulation of guns treated as some kind of transgression on liberty?

    “The fact that there are so many guns in the hands of the civilian population today, may also be why we can still call ourselves a free country.” Pure fantasy.

    What guns do is provide their typical owners — white, male, Republicans — with an antidote for their own sense of impotence. A gun is Viagra for the American man who is embarrassed about having a small dick. It’s compensation for a sense of weakness.

    The big bad government is going to take away my freedom, but I won’t let that happen. I’m going down to Walmart to buy me a gun. And then I can sit at home and stroke my gun and brag about how I won’t surrender to the government. Right!

  6. la vérité says:

    my request…….
    Please sign the petition.
    Thank you.

    http://campaigns.dailykos.com/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=276&tag=1215em5

  7. Sure, go ahead and sign the petition. But when a spineless president is petitioned by his own supporters with such a timid request — “Please use the influence of your office to help start a real national conversation about gun control” — this is just idle dreaming. Why not a gutsier challenge?

    How much longer can the gun lobby hold Washington hostage? It’s time for the president and Congress to take action and prevent the slaughter of more American children.

  8. The right for Americans to bear arms is so they can protect themselves from a tyrannical government- not just to protect them from other Americans. Study American history. Study the Constitution. Unbelievable. There are non Americans who live in our country. As a matter of fact, many are illegal. And as I think of it- the American government is busy protecting borders overseas and not their own. So you think that Americans should wait for the police to come when you only have seconds? What is wrong with an American being able to protect themselves? When our dollar collapses or in a widespread emergency the police are going home to protect their own family – not mine or yours. This shooting happened in a gun free zone. It did not work to protect these innocent children. Criminals will always have guns. Americas borders are too expansive to prevent such. Yes- we should be able to protect ourselves. War in context? This is complete UN anti gun propaganda. Very disappointing.

  9. la vérité says:

    Considering what Mr Wills has to say http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/dec/15/our-moloch/ and considering there was NO DISCUSSION AT ALL about Gun Control during the election campaign, , starting a conversation seems like a first step in the right direction. Plenty of pressure will result in action…..the country demands it.
    If you can start a petition with stronger language Mr Woodward, many including me will sign that petition. There is more than one petition going around. Thousands demanding that the president act is bound to have an impact.
    http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7039

  10. J Allan — Those gun owners who imagine that their possession of one or several weapons will serve as protection against a tyrannical government are indulging in a fantasy. The U.S. government is meant to be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and however close it might at one time have moved towards that principle, it has long been moving away from it. To the extent that the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are all beholden to interests other than those of the American people, we are already living under a tyrannical government. The right to bear arms has done nothing to diminish the corrosion of democracy. On the contrary, it acts more like a pacifier that some Americans can suck on while they imagine that owning a gun is somehow the expression of perfect liberty.

    Weak border control, the number of illegal immigrants in this country, and the possession of guns by criminals have nothing to do with the massacre in Newtown. Adam Lanza had no criminal record and the guns he used were obtained legally by his mother. Like so many other gun owners, she probably believed that her weapons would help keep her and her family safe. She perhaps also thought they’d offer protection from a tyrannical government and marauding foreigners.

    Gun owning fantasies aside, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of people who get killed by guns in this country are American citizens killed by fellow citizens. And the ease with which guns can be purchased is one of the primary reasons that the firearm homicide rate in America is 20 times higher than the average in other wealthy countries.

  11. la vérité says:
  12. Alvan K. Fleming says:

    Blaming The gun for the Shooting is like blaming a pencil for misspelling. The removal of guns from all Americans can never happen, it is one of the fundamental right of being American. If we are to rewrite our constitution to serve the anti gun lobbyist, then why don’t we go ahead and remove free press, oh yeah they did that already “note all the anti gun incidents are reported but the robberies and home invasions stopped aren’t. I know lets get rid of our constitutional right to freedom of religion, oh hold on they are already banning god from public consumption. how about we remove our freedom of speech? How about the right to fair representation in our government lets just hire a dictator to tell us what to do. Oh yeah that comes after the freedom to own weapons is removed. No one guaranteed you safety, as citizens of this country we try to do what is needed to make it safer, but life is inherently dangerous, it has drunks driving, against all laws, it has venomous critters, earth quakes tidal waves, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Life is fleeting, unforgiving and very precious, those who’s deaths came by mad men were tragic, and we could do things in other ways to help lower the death rates. Like having armed response people at locations that these incidents can happen to pin down the individual till help arrives, drills like the old atomic ones we had in school to help people in positions that could help to know appropriate responses. making any area “gun free” makes it more attractive to evil persons that know no one there could stop them in time to deny them their unsavory acts.

  13. Alvan – by your own account you apparently believe you’ve already lost most of your constitutional rights yet you sound quite reconciled to this so long as you don’t lose your precious guns.

    Your advocacy of guns everywhere suggests all sorts of interesting possibilities – court rooms where supporters of the defendants come armed – can’t see any problem with that; commercial flights with armed passengers – that’s guaranteed to scare off would-be hijackers; political rallies where anyone can carry a gun. No would-be assassin would dare to venture there, would he? And then of course there would be classrooms filled with children with guns. That’ll really put all the teachers’ minds at rest.

  14. You are over-stating what Alvan said, Paul…

    He advocates an ideal world where I can carry my guns with PRIDE.

    I will walk the streets with my bling-bling gun shining in ALL of it’s glory.

    And when I see any “bad men” I’ll shoot them down, with a sparkle in my eye.

    And if you want my gun, just ask for it. I’ll give it to you. ;)

  15. Really though, the ideal of a gun-free nation is absurd. Surely you’d agree, Paul.

    You do know that the banks literally own us, right? Literally.

    If you want to fight for something that’ll truly change this world, fight for the riddance of the monetary system. Greed is what gives incentives for much of the evil in this world. If we lived in a resource-based economy, as even MORE absurd as that sounds, everyone would be giving to humanity for its own sake. Nothing more. We no longer live in a limited-resource based world. With up-and-coming new technologies, we can literally have an abundance of resources for the entire world. But when you have major companies who are highly “invested” in oil, cars, etc., there’s no point for them to consider alternatives that would go against their own company, even if it would benefit humanity. Life is rarely about the benefits to humanity in a world filled with possibilities of greed around every corner. And in a world like this, I seriously doubt guns would be needed. And I bet a ton of people wouldn’t have a problem not having guns. Truly, this is a considerable future, as compared to the current greed-based economy. Wouldn’t you agree, Paul?

  16. Ryan – I don’t think anyone advocating gun control is envisioning a gun-free nation — thus the name: gun control, not gun elimination.

    A world free of the monetary system — nice idea, but also an idle fantasy. To advocate for a change so great that there is no practical way to reach it is to become a de facto supporter of the status quo.

  17. Michael D. Houst says:

    You’re quite right, gun ownership is a reaction to fear in American society.

    But not fear of being attacked by a crazed gun wielder.

    This fear is of being invaded in your home by homicidal maniacs bent on killing you just for the thrill of it. Because they want to know what it feels like to hack you to death in your bed with knives and machetes. Reference the Kimberly Cates murder in NH a couple years ago.

    This fear is of being unjustly attacked and murdered by rogue government agents. Reference Ruby Ridge Idaho where the FBI murdered an innocent woman and besieged a family as part of a law man’s illegal vendetta against the husband.

    Yes, Americans own guns to protect themselves from other Americans. That’s the point. Being American doesn’t mean you have a right to be safe at government expense and whim. It means you have a right to make yourself as safe as you can.

    And our children do not have a right to be able to go to school without getting shot.

    It’s our right to shoot dead anyone who would try.

  18. According to FBI statistics, in 2011 68% of murders resulted from the use of firearms. 13% from “knives or cutting instruments”.

    A University of Pennsylvania study found that “people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens.”

    So, I guess one can conclude that some people who are subject to irrational fears need to have guns in order to feel safe even if feeling safe by these means actually increases the risk of getting killed. And let’s not forget that by far the most common deaths among gun owners are suicides.

  19. Michael D. Houst says:

    FACT: 82% of homicides to children age 13 and under were committed without a gun.
    * 1997, FBI Uniform Crime Statistics
    FACT: The statistics cited for this myth include “children” up to age 19 or age 24, depending on the source. Most violent crime is committed by males ages 16-24, so these numbers include adult gang members dying during criminal activity.
    *FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 1997
    FACT: 18-20 year olds commit over 23% of all gun murders. None of these criminals are allowed to purchase a handgun due to their age under current law.
    * U.S. Treasury and Justice Dept. Report, 1999
    FACT: Two-thirds of the people that die each year from gunfire are criminals shooting other criminals.
    * FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 1994
    FACT: The national five day waiting period under the Brady Bill had no impact on murder or robbery, but slightly increased rape and aggravated assault rates by a few percent. For these two crime categories, the major effect was to delay law-abiding citizens from getting a gun for protection. The risks were greatest for crimes against women.
    * Dr. John Lott Jr., Univ. of Chicago School of Law
    FACT: Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 per day.
    * Gary Kleck, Criminologist, Florida State Univ.
    (Often the gun is never fired and no blood (including the criminals) is shed. )
    FACT: Every year, people in the United States use a gun to defend themselves against criminals an estimated 2,500,000 times- more than 6,500 people a day, or once every 13 seconds.
    * Fall 1995, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
    This means that, each year, firearms are used 65 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.

    I’ve been jumped and beaten by a gang; unable to out run them, no weapon to defend myself, and too many of them to even have a chance to out fight them. Only reason I’m alive and whole today is pure luck. Luck is a bad thing to rely on in a life or death situation. A gun would have made all the difference.

    I’ve also been threatened to be beaten at my home and the only reason why I wasn’t was because the idiot’s girlfriend was overheard telling him not to go because I had guns.

  20. “Only reason I’m alive and whole today is pure luck” — luck that no one in the gang that attacked you used a gun. As you say, “A gun would have made all the difference.” You’re assuming that it would have been a gun used by you, rather than against you.