Here we go again: Lax gun laws allowed a lone gunman to shoot and kill 12 people in. . . . Oh, wait, that was actually in Cumbria, England summer before last.
The headline in The Times of London read, by the way, “Toughest Laws in the World Could Not Stop Cumbria Tragedy.”
Last summer it was a gun-and-bomb massacre in Norway that killed 77 people, many of them teens.
While multiple-victim public shootings are widely considered a uniquely American problem–that Wild West heritage of ours, you know, combined with our lax gun laws and that pesky Second Amendment–they’re actually not.
Think Columbine was the worst school shooting in history?
Think again. That actually occurred in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. In fact, the worst three school shootings in history all occurred in western Europe, in countries with way tighter gun restrictions than we’ve ever even dreamed of here:
- Gutenberg-Gymnasium, Erfurt, Germany, 2002: 18 dead;
- Dunblane Primary School, Dunblane, Scotland, 1996: 17 dead, including 16 kindergartners;
- Albertville-Realschule, Winnenden, Germany, 2009: 16 dead.
The Second Amendment doesn’t seem to be the problem.
Nor do lax gun laws. According to a study by economists John R. Lott, Jr. and William M. Landes, the only public policy factor that affects multiple victim public shootings is right-to-carry laws: They reduce both the number and severity of multiple victim public shootings.
Mass shooters are afraid of citizens with guns, and it appears that’s about the only thing they are afraid of.
In fact, Lott takes the argument one step further: It looks more like gun bans are the problem. Consider this: With one exception, every multiple-victim public shooting in the United States since the end of World War II has occurred in places where guns were banned.
Like the theater in Aurora, Colorado, which prohibited anyone but police from carrying guns.
And a lot of good allowing cops to carry guns did: They police didn’t get there till after the shooting had stopped. According to CBS, the attack began about 12:30. By the time the police arrived ten minutes later, James Holmes was out in the parking lot, according to Reuters, and the carnage was complete.
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In other news, Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan issued a statement on the shooting. He says in part:
The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.
You can read the whole thing at Moviefone.
Speaking of violating that innocent and hopeful place, here’s British movie critic Jenny McCartney’s July, 2008 review of Nolan’s Dark Knight, rated PG-13:
But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.
I will attempt to confine my plot spoilers to the opening: the film begins with a heist carried out by men in sinister clown masks. As each clown completes a task, another shoots him point-blank in the head. The scene ends with a clown – The Joker – stuffing a bomb into a wounded bank employee’s mouth.
After the murderous clown heist, things slip downhill. A man’s face is filleted by a knife, and another’s is burned half off. A man’s eye is slammed into a pencil. A bomb can be seen crudely stitched inside another man’s stomach, which subsequently explodes. A trussed-up man is bound to a chair and set alight atop a pile of banknotes.
A plainly terrorised child is threatened at gunpoint by a man with a melted face. It is all intensely realistic. Oh but don’t worry, folks: there isn’t any nudity.
That movie, by the way, like The Dark Knight Rises, was rated PG-13: Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
Christopher Nolan is just a story-teller and the Joker, just a villain in his story. Nolan isn’t a mass murderer, nor is he advocating mass murder. But research has repeatedly shown that exposure to movie and video violence desensitizes us to real world violence in both the short and long-term. And Nolan’s movies are certainly part of that.
If the savage violation of the theater’s innocence truly devastates him, Nolan needs go no further than his bathroom mirror to begin assigning blame.