He’s reportedly Australian, almost thirty. He wanted to show that gun control laws are absurd by legally buying 5 or more weapons that are not banned in New Zealand and slaughtering worshipers in their mosque on Friday prayers and therefore ensuring the 2nd amendment is overruled/banned or something. Thus, starting a race war in America which, in his crazed mind, would:

• Liberate the white race, and
• Crush America’s world dominance

How do you spot a fiendish madman before he commits an atrocity?

You have 3 main ways of responding to that impossible question:

• Somehow find a way to monitor and identify potential shooters, who may be sociopaths who are very adept at concealing who they really are and what they are planning to do. Or incur enormous costs by establishing monitoring forces, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter’s platforms, in order to monitor all of us and track our every move and every word typed into sites from 8chan to Facebook and therefore use AI to ensure not that we become a hi-tech paradise but rather that we stop killing each other, But what do you do when a killer livestreams on social media as apparently he did?

• Ban and then confiscate most (or all) weapons not in the hands of state-sanctioned security forces without detaining or actually having security forces shooting at millions of gun owners in the process, or

• Affirm that in a free world, it’s next to impossible to predict and identify mass shooters and therefore most people should be armed in order to minimize the effects of an attempted shooting.

All are sub-optimal choices to put it mildly.

Australia placed fairly severe limits on gun ownership in 1996 after the mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania. The results, according to a study by Chapman, Alpers, Agho, and Jones were positive:

Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern. Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides.

Some other studies supposedly say the effect of the gun laws has been quite limited. New Zealand’s gun laws, on the other hand, seem to be focused on owners rather than types of weapons the way Australia’s gun laws are and instead rely on local police vetting. They didn’t vet Brenton Tarrant – the reported suspect – sufficiently but perhaps the fact that he was an Australian who was either living or visiting in New Zealand meant the shooter could slip through the cracks.

Beyond the fact it was a shooting this was a hate crime and it will raise the issue of islamophobia everywhere and will also be used to silence any criticism of Islam by some. It doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s more important than ever to find a way – or for each society to find a way – to put an end to mass shootings. However sub-optimal the choices appear right now.

It’s worth noting, for example, that in Australia their gun control laws seem to have overwhelming public support. But it’s also worth noting that Australia has less than 10% of America’s population while being an enormous country. So, whether Australia’s solution works elsewhere depends on where that else is.

New Zealand and America, and other nations, will each have to find their own way. Hopefully one that doesn’t invovle far more violence than the horrors unleashed in Christchurch.

Comments