Beyond the gun-control debate: this reflection on the Virginia Tech massacre looks beyond the gun debate to the importance of cultural morality in reducing senseless crimes of violence.The toll of the Virginia Tech shooting was 33 human beings dead and dozens of others injured. The loss of so many innocent youths to a madman was heart-rending. Making matters worse, if that's possible, was the manner of their deaths. Some were found in defensive positions, instinctively trying to ward off bullets with their bare hands.
I reflected long about what could have been done to prevent this useless carnage and pain. As I reflected, I listened to news commentators such as Charles Gibson
Charles "Charlie" Dewolf Gibson , Katie Couric Katherine Anne "Katie" Couric (born January 7, 1957) is an American journalist who became well-known as co-host of NBC's Today. In 2006, she made a highly publicized move from NBC to CBS, and on September 5, 2006 she became the first woman to solo-anchor of the weekday , and Brian Ross
Brian Ross (born September 4, 1944 in Ballston Spa, New York) is a racecar driver. He won Rookie of the Year honors in the Auto Racing Club of America in 2000. ask questions about whether lax gun-control laws were to blame for this shooting. Each of them strongly implied that new gun-control laws are the answer.
"But," I thought at the risk of offending those media luminaries, "where they're placing the blame for this violence is at odds with the respondents of an April ABC News
ABC News is a division of American television and radio network ABC, owned by The Walt Disney Company. Its current president is David Westin. poll, who blamed popular culture."
When asked in that April poll to choose a "primary cause of gun violence, far more Americans blamed the effects of popular culture (40 percent) or the way parents raise their children (35 percent) than the availability of guns (18 percent). In no population does more than about a fourth cite the availability of guns as the chief cause of violence."
What if popular culture is to blame--or more specifically, what if a lack of cultural morality is to blame? If the poll respondents are on to something and guns are not to blame, it needs to be asked, "Can a correlation be shown between cultural morals and rates of violent crime--especially gun crime?" Let us see.
Held Up High
Three of the most important countries held up to prove that gun-control measures work are Japan, England, and Australia. These countries' restrictive laws against civilians owning guns, which make owning a gun for defensive purposes either difficult or nearly impossible, are credited with producing much lower rates of gun deaths in those countries than in America. Assuming the lower death rates are true, it must only be learned whether the lower reported deaths are owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.
owing to prep → debido a, por causa de gun control or culture.
The results of my perusal of the research on this topic were conclusive: cultural morality is hands-down a more reliable factor for predicting violence with guns than gun-control laws are.
Japan: Japan has both very strict gun-control laws and a very low number of shootings each year, yet the gun-control laws don't seem to play a major role in reducing violence and deaths. In Japan, only a tiny fraction of people may own handguns, and the owners of rifles and shotguns must pass several tests to acquire a gun and then they must keep the guns in a locker at home. Recently, Time magazine reported that there were only 53 shootings there in 2006 in a population of just over 127 million. A pretty good record in anyone's book.
But researcher David B. Kopel pointed out in a 1993 article for the Asia Pacific Law Review, entitled "Japanese Gun Control," that "more than gun control, more than the lack of criminal procedure safeguards, more than the authority of the police, it is the pervasive social controls that best explain the low crime rate." In his article, Kopel explains, "Almost everyone [in Japan] accepts the paradigm that the police should be respected. Because the police are so esteemed, the Japanese people The Japanese people (日本人 Nihonjin, Nipponjin co-operate with the police more than Americans do. Co-operation with the police also extends to obeying laws which almost everyone believes in. The Japanese people, and even the large majority of Japanese criminals, voluntarily obey gun controls."
In fact, Japanese police visit the home of each Japanese citizen twice each year to update the extensive dossiers that they keep on each Japanese citizen. The dossiers are so inclusive that they even list the reasons teen girls give for having sex.
Kopel explained that Japanese culture is all about tradition, conforming, joining, self-respect, and honor--not about individuality and self-gratification. "When Japanese parents punish their children," Kopel asserted, "they do not make the children stay inside the house, as American parents do. Punishment for a Japanese child means being put outside. The sublimation sublimation, in chemistry
sublimation (sŭblĭmā`shən), change of a solid substance directly to a vapor without first passing through the liquid state. of individual desires to the greater good, the pressure to conform, and internalised willingness to do so are much stronger in Japan than in America."
Kopel provides much evidence to back up his assertion that it is the uniqueness of Japanese conformity that lends itself to low crime rates, not gun control: suicide rates in Japan are double those in America (Japanese who can't conform often kill themselves); the former Soviet Union had strict gun-control laws and onerous controls on the people but high violent-crime rates; the non-gun robbery rates in Japan were also low (70 times lower than the rate in America); and even Japanese prisons had extremely low rates of violence--especially when compared to America.
Additionally, as the Japanese culture has changed, so too has the crime rate, which has been moving up despite the fact that the gun laws are still in place. Violent crime in Japan has been climbing as the Japanese have been increasingly exposed to foreign influences from both media and the masses of legal and illegal immigrants illegal immigrant n. an alien (non-citizen) who has entered the United States without government permission or stayed beyond the termination date of a visa. (See: alien) who have entered the country. Back in 1993, Kopel reported that "per one million inhabitants
The game is based loosely on the concepts from SameGame. , Tokyo has 40 reported muggings a year; New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of has 11,000." Ten years later, a 2003 article in Japan Today reported on increasingly prevalent and violent crimes by teenagers in Japan "known as 'oyaji-gari' (literally, old man hunting)" and "'hatsuden-nerai' (aiming for the first train)"--teens armed with baseball bats and martial-arts weapons attacking and robbing old men and businessmen.
A separate report on PBS's Nightline Business Report revealed that "the number of juveniles indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted. for serious crimes such as murder and rape and armed robbery soared 51.3 percent in 1997" and "the growth of robberies and thefts rose by 50,000 in 2000--to a total of 385,717."
England: Japan's experience with violent crime increasing despite great restrictions on guns is not an anomaly; England followed the same path, to the great sorrow of many of her citizens.
Are the reports about Britain's low crime a big lie? The answer is that England did once have low crime rates, but the low rates had already existed prior to the introduction of gun-control laws. The explanation for those low crime rates must therefore be found in the British culture, not the gun-control laws. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a 2002 article in Reason magazine, "A government study [in England] for the years 1890-92 ... found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world." At the time, guns were prevalent in English society. These low rates lasted until about 1954 when rates of violent crime began to creep upwards. Reason magazine reported that in recent years "armed crime, with banned handguns the weapon of choice, was 'rocketing.' In the two years following the 1997 handgun ban, the use of handguns in crime rose by 40 percent, and the upward trend has continued. From April to November 2001, the number of people robbed at gunpoint in London rose 53 percent."
In September 2005, 18-year-old Ruth Okechukwu was dragged from her car in south London South London (known colloquially as South of the River) is the area of London south of the River Thames. Some neighbourhoods north of the Thames have South London postal codes (SW), but these neighbourhoods are classified as West or Central London. and stabbed repeatedly; she died. Fifteen days earlier, the killer, Roberto Malasi, had also killed Zainab Kalokoh at a baby-christening party, shooting her in the head, before robbing the guests of their valuables. Such behavior has been on an upward trend.
Dan Rather reported on CBS News CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. Its current president is Sean McManus who is also head of CBS Sports. Current productions
Current television shows
Governing organization for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols. It was founded in Britain in 1860. The U.S. organization, formed in 1871, has a membership of some four million. Both the British and the U.S. , "licenses have been required for rifles and handguns since 1920, and for shotguns since 1967. A decade ago semiautomatic and pump-action center-fire rifles, and all handguns except single-shot .22s, were prohibited. The .22s were banned in 1997."
Reason magazine further illuminated Great Britain's crime problems: "Except for murder and rape, ... 'Britain has overtaken the US for all major crimes,'" it said, quoting the Mirror of London. Reason added: "In the two years since Dan Rather" made public England's crime problem, "violence in England has gotten markedly worse. Over the course of a few days in the summer of 2001, gun-toting men burst into an English court and freed two defendants; a shooting outside a London nightclub left five women and three men wounded, and two men were machine-gunned to death in a residential neighborhood of North London North London is a part of London, England which has several possible definitions. River & geography
The part of London north of the River Thames (illustrated). . And on New Year's day New Year's Day, among ancient peoples the first day of the year frequently corresponded to the vernal or autumnal equinox, or to the summer or winter solstice. In the Middle Ages it was celebrated among Christians usually on Mar. 25. this year a 19-year-old girl walking on a main street in east London East London, city (1991 pop. 240,474), Eastern Cape, SE South Africa, on the Indian Ocean. The city grew around a British military post founded in 1847. Its harbor was developed from 1886, and today it is a leading South African port. was shot in the head by a thief who wanted her mobile phone."
Reason went on: "In reality, the English approach has not reduced violent crime. Instead it has left law-abiding citizens at the mercy of criminals who are confident that their victims have neither the means nor the legal right to resist them. Initiating this model would be a public safety disaster for the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. ." In England robbers are so confident of having defenseless victims that "53 percent of English burglaries occur while the occupants are at home, compared with 13 percent in the U.S., where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than police."
Despite the UK's restrictive weapons-control policies and their pervasive monitoring of the public through closed-circuit cameras, crimes committed with guns and knives are flourishing. The BBC BBC
in full British Broadcasting Corp.
Publicly financed broadcasting system in Britain. A private company at its founding in 1922, it was replaced by a public corporation under royal charter in 1927. News reported: "In 2003, there were 31 youths aged under 20 charged with gun-related murder in London. In 2006, interim figures showed that number had risen to 76."
Simply put, for many years before gun laws were enacted, the English for some reason seldom committed crimes. Theories behind such low crime rates range from prior centuries of strict punishment for crimes--frequent hangings--to religious devotion to extremely nationalistic English pride and propriety, but they all have one thing in common: cultural morality.
Australia: Australia had the same disconcerting dis·con·cert
tr.v. dis·con·cert·ed, dis·con·cert·ing, dis·con·certs
1. To upset the self-possession of; ruffle. See Synonyms at embarrass.
2. result when it instituted severe gun restrictions. In March 2006, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that of the 30 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), international organization that came into being in 1961. It superseded the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, which had been founded in 1948 to coordinate the Marshall Plan for European , "Australia had the highest proportion of victims of assaults, threats and crimes of a sexual nature, the second highest proportion of burglaries, and high rates of robberies, car thefts and thefts from cars.... The US, which recorded a fall in victimization victimization Social medicine The abuse of the disenfranchised–eg, those underage, elderly, ♀, mentally retarded, illegal aliens, or other, by coercing them into illegal activities–eg, drug trade, pornography, prostitution. rates, was mid-range." And if you remember, Australia prohibited many semi-automatic and pump rifles and shotguns in 1996, and it requires that each gun owner be able to verify a "Genuine Reason" for obtaining a gun, and self-defense is not considered a genuine reason.
Summed up, though the number of homicides committed with guns did go down to 17 percent of all homicides in 2003-04--a continuing trend that began in 1969, well before the enactment of strict gun-control measures--the number of homicides in the country spiked in 1999, three years after strict gun-control measures went into effect. Armed robbery and unarmed robbery both peaked in March 2001. The trend in assaults shows a continuing increase, with "an average growth of 6% each year between 1995 and 2003," according to the Australian Institute of Criminology The Australian Institute of Criminology is an Australian Government-operated research institute into crime and criminology. It was established in 1973 and operates under the provisions of the Criminology Research Act 1971. . Similarly, sexual assaults "have increased by an average 4% each year since 1995."
Switzerland: Contrast Australia's tragic crime-rate explosion with Switzerland's, where the crime rate has been steadily low. The reason cannot be tough gun laws because the Swiss have not adopted them. In fact, according to Wikipedia. corn, "Swiss men still remain part of the militia either in a home guard or reserve capacity until age 30 (age 34 for officers). Each such individual keeps his army-issued personal weapon (the Sig 550 5.6x45 mm assault rifle assault rifle
Military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire. for enlisted personnel, and/or the SIG-Sauer P220 9 mm semi-automatic pistol A semi-automatic pistol is a type of handgun that can be fired in semi-automatic mode, firing one cartridge for each pull of the trigger. This type of firearm uses a single chamber and a single barrel, which remain in a fixed linear orientation relative to each other while being for officers, medical, and postal personnel) at home with a specified quantity of government-issued ammunition (50 rounds 5.6 mm/ 48 rounds 9 mm), sealed and inspected regularly to ensure that no unlawful use takes place. The emergency ammunition is the only ammunition that requires accounting for during inspections." Shooting is a national sport and highly encouraged by the government.
Switzerland averages about 300 gun-related deaths a year in a population of 7.4 million, or just over four gun deaths per 100,000 residents, and most gun-related deaths are suicides. Outside of gun deaths, other violent crime of all types is extremely low in Switzerland. The business guide Switzerland.isyours.com states, "Violent crime is almost unknown, and when murders are committed it is usually by asylum seekers. Like it or not, 44% of the persons convicted of criminal offences are foreigners, half of whom do not even officially live in Switzerland." Interestingly, despite the country's extremely low crime rate, there are increasing calls by gun-control advocates to strictly regulate guns in Switzerland.
When other Europeans are asked about why Switzerland remains relatively violence-free while having a proliferation of guns, most usually give the answer, "The Swiss can do it because they're Swiss." In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , it's because of their national character.
Worldwide: Multiple studies have backed up the idea that there is little correlation between strict gun-control laws and low crime rates. The three largest studies ever done on the effectiveness of gun-control laws were done by the National Academy of Sciences, by the Center for Disease Control, and by Professor John Lott John Richard Lott Jr. (born May 8 1958) is a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park and has held research positions at numerous institutions, including the University of Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton School at the University of . The studies examined gun-control laws from around the world. None of them could find a gun-control law that was effective at stopping crime. The National Academy of Sciences, which operates under a congressional charter A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress has issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992. and bills itself as "Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine," issued a 328-page report on gun-control laws in December 2004. In its report, "based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work, the panel couldn't identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide, or accidents," reported the New York Post The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and the oldest to have been published continually as a daily. Since 1976, it has been owned by Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and is one of the 10 .
Likewise, in England, an analysis entitled "Was the Dunblane Inquiry Misled?" proved that the data used to show a correlation between gun-control laws and low violent crime was absurd. In part, it said, "In Britain, in areas where legal firearms ownership is higher, armed crime is lower: and this is the case both for total offences and for every individual category of armed crime."
At home: Here in America, there are currently 36 shall-issue states--states that will issue a concealed-carry permit to those citizens who pass the required background checks and gun training--and 10 states that allow at least some semblance of right-to-carry. Before these concealed-carry laws were passed, anti-gunners predicted their passage would lead to huge spikes in violent crime. Those spikes didn't happen. According to a Fox News column in March, "The violent crime rate fell for 13 straight years, a total drop of 39 percent, before increasing in 2005 by less than 1 percent.... Murder rates have essentially remained unchanged since 2000 after falling from a peak of 9.8 in 1991."
What does all of this mean for us here in the United States? Strict gun-control laws, including banning guns, will likely lead to an increase in murders and other violent crime here because our present high murder rate is a reflection of our culture, not guns, and because the law-abiding would then be largely disarmed dis·arm
v. dis·armed, dis·arm·ing, dis·arms
a. To divest of a weapon or weapons.
Addressing the Problem
Can we use this knowledge to reduce crime in a society that almost worships cultural diversity, rather than promoting cultural unity; and in a society where "gangsta rap gang·sta rap also gangster rap
A style of rap music associated with urban street gangs and characterized by violent, tough-talking, often misogynistic lyrics. " regularly glorifies the killing of other races and of police officers; and in a society where the races and social strati stra·ti
Plural of stratus. are pitted against one another by affirmative-action laws and so-called hate-crime laws? That remains to be seen.
As David C. Stolinsky, M.D. said in a brief analysis of the cause and amount of crime in the United States Crime in the United States is characterized by relatively high levels of gun violence and homicide, compared to other developed countries although this is explained by the fact that criminals in America are more likely to use firearms. entitled "America: The Most Violent Nation?": "We all must admit that we have much to learn about the causes of violence. This requires more effort and intellectual honesty than looking to government to pass yet another law. America is hardly the most violent nation, and our homicide rate has fallen recently, but we are more violent than we used to be--and than we should be."
However, even by remedying our culture, we cannot completely solve the problem--as was demonstrated in Japan in 2001 when Mamoru Takuma Mamoru Takuma (宅間 守 Takuma Mamoru entered an elementary school elementary school: see school. in Osaka, then used a kitchen knife to kill eight students and wound 15 other people. There will always be immoral people, but we can ameliorate a·mel·io·rate
tr. & intr.v. a·me·lio·rat·ed, a·me·lio·rat·ing, a·me·lio·rates
To make or become better; improve. See Synonyms at improve.
[Alteration of meliorate. the problem.
Taking away guns from the law-abiding, as our survey shows, will not change what's in our hearts, but will make us more vulnerable.