The Nashville shooting will intensify America’s culture wars
Both Left and Right were quick to pounce on the perpetrator's motives
This week America experienced its 13th school shooting of the calendar year, keeping the nation of 332 million people and 350 million firearms on pace to exceed last year’s tally of 51. The latest shooting occurred at the Covenant School, a small Christian academy in Nashville. Using two assault weapons and a handgun, shooter Audrey Hale — female at birth, but now using “he/him” pronouns along with the name “Aiden” in some online profiles — killed three 9-year-old children, the school’s custodian, the head of school, and a substitute teacher.
At the time of this writing, it is still too early to ascertain Hale’s motivations. Officials claim a manifesto exists, as do detailed maps that helped Hale, a former student of the school, execute her plan with a high degree of efficiency. This particular incident is unique by U.S. standards: of the 135 mass shootings (defined as a single attack in a public place in which four or more victims were killed) that have occurred since 1982, only three were carried out by women (although commentator Wesley Yang noted that referring to Hale as such constitutes “misgendering” her).
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Each of the warring sides in America’s interminable, ever-worsening culture wars can place the burden of guilt for Hale’s murders at the feet of their foes. Those on the Left can suggest that Tennessee’s recent ban on access to puberty blockers for minors and restrictions on drag events forced the shooter’s hand. Meanwhile, those on the Right — who are calling for the release of Hale’s manifesto — can attribute it to yet another act of “trans violence”, referencing shooters in Colorado Springs last year (Anderson Lee Aldrich), Denver in 2019 (Alec McKinney), and Aberdeen, Maryland in 2018 (Snochia Moseley, also born female).
Describing four shootings in five years as an “epidemic” is perhaps an exaggeration, but it is a perfectly serviceable tabula rasa on which irreconcilable foes can write their grievances. Old culture war battles can be rehashed yet again, like the one that involves the Right laying blame for shootings on “mental health” and the Left citing easy access to guns. The latter can try to make it slightly harder to purchase handguns — it’s still quite easy to purchase long guns like rifles and shotguns in the U.S. — while the former can attempt to increase funding to police or prisons to house the latest generation of mentally disturbed “super-predators.”
The one thing that is certain is that neither side has any easy answers to this nigh-insoluble problem. Public figures like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene can raise peripheral questions about “steroid rage” tied to testosterone use by trans people such as Hale — a real problem for all testosterone users — but no evidence of the shooter’s use has yet surfaced. Instead, the hard and simple fact remains that there are at least 350 million firearms in the United States, so many that even ambitious confiscation programs like the one undertaken in Australia (which confiscated approximately 650,000 guns) would struggle to make a dent in such a vast number. Likewise, the restriction of sale and distribution will do little on the supply side for those needing weapons for illicit purposes, especially criminals willing to acquire them illegally.
With solutions in short supply, Americans of all political stripes will find themselves grappling with the next round of school shootings and mass shootings (130 as of this writing, with many admittedly tied to gang-related violence). This violence, at least for now, hasn’t reached the levels that make bulletproof cars such a sought-after status symbol for Brazil’s rich, but partisan agitation tied to the impending 2024 elections surely won’t help matters.
I am very surprised to see Unherd using the phrase ‘assigned female at birth’ apparently in seriousness here. You cannot be ‘assigned’ a sex, and to suggest that you can is to capitalute to the worst excesses of gender ideology. Did this slip past an editor?
Indeed – signalling a denial of the reality of sex.
There is also this;
… only three were carried out by women (although commentator Wesley Yang noted that referring to Hale as such constitutes “misgendering” her).
Why mention “misgendering”? Is it again a denial of the reality of sex by redefining “women” as a gender when, correctly, it is the term for the adult human form of the female sex?
If you read the thread of Yang’s tweets, you’ll see that he was ironically pointing out the contradictions in the press and institutions that take pains to avoid “misgendering” transwomen but less so with transmen. I was surprised by Yang’s quote as supplied by the author, but Yang’s thread makes clear his intent: “Imagine the internal deliberations that led to this decision…everybody knows that they are making this shit up as they go along, that there’s no way to be coherent or consistent because the underlying idea is a hash. Yet still they must go on”.
Fascinating how language can’t be outwitted. We know all know AFAB means ‘is unequivocally female for life’ despite the implicit attempt to say otherwise. Not only is Mother Nature a Terf so is her daughter, language.
“Not only is Mother Nature a Terf so is her daughter, language.”
What a great line.
Just tell these people they’re misgendering themselves and have done with it.
“Assigned female at birth” Was there a tribunal or assessment process that stamped her/his/it’s documents? If people want to change sex that is fine, but let’s not use patronising nonsense words such as “assigned” in this context.
No one can change sex.
except for some Florida frogs exposed to synthetic fertilizers in the swamps.
And they aren’t changing their DNA, only their morphology.
I am prepared to believe people can change gender, with a lot of chemicals and surgery and an honest will to do so
Certainly with a boatload of chemicals, major genital mutilation & associated plastic reconstructive surgery a man can be made to (sort of) appear to be a woman …but he can never become a woman. Genetically he will remain, always and forever, male. True female anatomies cannot be created…they can only be simulated. And the resulting creation, post-surgeries, post-chemicals, can only ever be a man who play-pretends woman.
And, of course, this would be equally true for a woman who chooses to play-pretend she’s a man.
But your wording, “I am prepared to believe” is entirely appropriate because what you describe is entirely a matter of click-your-heels together belief (like Santa Claus, and Fairies, and the Great Wizard Oz).
“the Right laying blame for shootings on “mental health” “
Can the left argue that a school shooter doesn’t have mental health problems? Although this particular case does complicate the argument against Trans people not needing talking therapy. This one clearly did need it.
The news articles I had seen (MSM) stated the shooter was a Trans woman not a trans identified woman. Is the media getting itself confused on the differences too now, perhaps all people are now women.
wasn’t the shooter a trans man, actually?
That would be a trans identifying woman. Yesterday msm stated trans woman. Have you read my words or skimmed them?
Every country in the world has some citizens with mental health issues, however America is the only country where those people regularly slaughter children as they sit in school so to me blaming mental health is a cop out especially as those on the right who tend to be most pro gun generally also oppose free healthcare. Therefore mentally ill people don’t get or can’t afford the help they need, and also have the means to go and buy guns and go on a rampage.
Well stupid me, obviously it’s the guns fault and not the messed up people that led to school shootings.
For the record, Britain has free health care and its mental health services are still appalling and under funded.
Do you blame the explosives for killing people when suicide bombers blow themselves up rather than the person?
Also Britains problems with its overstretched and underfunded healthcare system are well documented, yet because those struggling with mental illness aren’t able to get their hands on powerful firearms they aren’t able to go round gunning down schoolchildren
I’d still rather more help was available for mentally ill people who pose a threat to our communities. I don’t sit here thinking well thank god that we have more stringent gun laws than the US, nothing more needs to be done!
Take the guns away and they pose much less of a threat though
The crime stats are pretty clear on this. Sex not gender identity (even with added hormones) determines offending profiles. Y chromosomes are powerful. Our prisons aren’t dealing with a pro rata rise in trans-identifying young females killing, down-loading child abuse imagery or thinking it’s a good idea to rob the post office on a moped. Or a pro-rata fall in male offending. Trans-ideology tells us the reverse is true. Trans-ideology is a lie.
President Joe Biden was hardly ‘quick to pounce’.
Who can forget his words as national TV cut live to the White House where Biden was speaking after hearing of the tragedy?
my name is Joe Biden I’m Dr Joe Biden’s husband
and I had Jenny’s ice cream chocolate chip I came down because you heard there was
chocolate chip ice cream by the way I have a whole refrigerator full upstairs I think I’m kidding I’ve
not got Ben how are you pal one of the best guys in the United States Congress Ben Cardin
folks uh welcome to the White House it’s so late to have you all here
and who are those good looking kids back there are your kids all four of them well
Stand Up Guys
well I want you to know like you I had two brothers three three in our family
three brothers and one sister my sister is smarter than all of us
not a joke she used to be three years younger than me now she’s 23 years younger than me
she managed every one of my campaigns for office even back when I was in high school
we went to the same University two years apart she graduated honors I graduated
and we had a simple rule in the family listen to Val my sister Valerie is
incredible so guys be nice to your sister you’re gonna need her you’re going to need her I promise it’s the
same lineup you’re the oldest who’s number two number two who’s number
three twins are you guys twins okay all right so just how it wasn’t our outfit
well I’m so glad to see you all thanks for coming with Mom okay you got to take care of your mom dads are much harder to raise but you know
before I begin to speak the reason I spent a little time in the kids I I just want to speak very briefly about the school shooting in Nashville Tennessee you know uh
Let’s all gloss over the fact that Dementia Joe now can’t remember his wife’s name.
Was that REAL? I thought it was faked.
Yes, it was real.
The TV stations cut to the White House when the White House told them to and that is then what came out of Biden’s mouth.
But remember….Orange Man Bad.
One mad, one bad. Poor USA
There is a Babylon Bee joke today about a six year old who is depressed because he just realized he can never be President because he’s too intelligent.
I too thought it was a joke.
I’ll start taking some of what I’ve read about Biden rather more seriously – deeply worrying.
Fetterman is giving him a run for his money. He won’t even talk now. Or vote. I think even the Dems are getting upset about it. It’s like they lost a seat in the Senate.
Me too, thought, “That’s brilliant satire.”
But as satirists everywhere know, real life makes them redundant.
Can you provide some kind of link to this?
WATCH LIVE: President Biden addresses deadly Nashville school shooting | ABC News Special Report
The President begins his address at 6:42
I just watched it. It simply defies belief. America is surely doomed.
He does like ice-cream, though! I mean, it’s not all bad.
Nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems.
Save the tragedy itself…the death of 6 innocents (3 of them children)…at the hands of a conscienceless killer. That is brutally simple.
And the brutality, of course, is the killer’s. Her homicidal urge to commit horrific murders is the causal source of the Nashville tragedy.
Certainly her use of guns made the murders ‘easier’, but for those intent on murder, the world is filled with weapons.
In the U.S. alone there are an estimated 350M-400M firearms. That number overwhelms….until we consider that in any given year 99.996% of those firearms are NOT used to kill anyone. We can say the same about knives, and baseball bats. The vast majority of objects which are used to kill people are not being used to kill people. It’s not the object, per se, it’s the homicidal urge which leaves thousands of bodies on the street.
So what about the homicide rate itself. Is the United States simply a murderous nation filled with murderous people?
Falling from a peak of 10.2 murders/100K in 1980, the U.S. rate plummeted 57% to a low in 2012 of 4.7. But 2012 was also the year that 26 people (most of them children) were slaughtered at Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook was horrible and filled the national media with tragedy….but murder itself — that year — was, overall, way down. As we go through these analyses, it’s important to separate the horrific incident from the overall reality which may, and usually does, tell a different story.
In fact historical murder rates are a roller coaster: climbing from 1908 to 1934…falling from ’35 to ’63….climbing again from ’64 to ’93…dropping sharply from ’94 to 2014…and then bumping up to Pandemic 2020 (falling some since then). 2020 spiked at 6.5/100K, but that’s still 36% lower than the 1980 peak of 10.2…which itself almost matched the previous peak of 9.5 hit 46 years earlier in 1934…which had fallen all the way to 4.0 by 1957. Up & down…up & down…the murder rates rise & fall as the firearm per capita rate remained more or less constant (with the gun/household rate falling slightly) across all those decades.
So what else?
If we look at the murders themselves and how they are geographically distributed, what we discover is that 73% of all murders are committed in only 5% of all counties in the United States…and that 52% of all American counties had no murders. Drilling down further we find that 1% of all counties contained 21% of the national population and generated 42% of all killings….and even those are significantly localized within certain urban neighborhood / demographic clusters. We know, as a for instance, that more than half of all murders in the U.S. are commited by the 13.3% of the population who are Black…and most of those by young, urban Blacks.
This is not a national problem (save in the sense that United States owns it). It’s not a firearm problem (since 99.996% are never used to commit murder). it’s an urban neighborhood /demographic problem which yields sociopaths who commit murder.
In order to address that pathology, we must first recognize it. And that remains a significant struggle. Those solutions, whatever they may be, may not directly address the particular sociopath who killed the children in Nashville…but they will have a huge impact on the annual urban death toll of 16K.
Thanks for those essential facts – I have also read those before – and must ask the question ‘why are these realities not discussed more thoroughly ??
That’s a great question! I suspect the answer is three-fold:
1) This kind of analysis is time-consuming and not particularly obvious or easy
2) It doesn’t really fit the Progressive Media narrative: ‘guns bad”
3) It doesn’t lead to an easy or obvious solution (like confiscating bad guns).
Rather it points at community cultures and demographies which have enabled violent crime…and leads to complex questions like:
Why do (proportionally) so many young, Black men commit murder? What creates a homicidal sociopath?
Possibly because these figures are suspect. Firearms per capita unchanged through the decades?
A very difficult number to estimate. If you have a better estimate, I’d love to see it. But what I suspect is that the number has never been studied (that I’ve found, anyway).
But given the normal quick googling this stuff inspires, what I do find tends to show percent of household gun ownership as relatively constant across the last 5 decades (though dropping). If we take that as a given , an increasing population combined with a relatively ‘constant’ gun-holding household rate, then it seems reasonable to conclude that per capita gun ownership has also remained relatively constant.
If anything, we might speculate that post WW2 that a significant % of the American population returned from war bearing weapons (and a well-developed proficiency with same)… meaning a probable increase in per capita gun ownership. Yet that same time period, post-war, corresponds with one of the largest, deepest valleys in national murder rates.
We’d also have to note a difference between a slightly decreasing per household gun ownership rate and what I would bet would an increasing guns per household rate in those homes which do hold guns. 29% of gun owners tell us they own 5 or more guns.
In general everything I’ve seen indicates the US has been gun-saturated (or super-saturated) pretty much forever.
Again, a very difficult number to estimate….especially given the likelihood that it’s easier to get straight answers to Sex Surveys than equally straight answers to gun ownership surveys. The truth would seem to be: no one really knows for sure. We can just make educated guesses.
Whilst much of what you say makes good sense you are overlooking the reality that it’s a lot easier to kill when you have a gun. Every other method involves a lot more time, effort and mess.
Some interesting facts here. But some of them are pretty tendentious:
– “99.996% of guns are never used to commit murder.” So what? I am sure you could find that 90%+ of organised crime members never kill anyone, that 90%+ of all oxycontin is not consumed by addicts, and that 90%+ of smokers do not die of lung cancer. The problem remains equally huge no matter how large a number you can find to dilute it with.
– “73% of all murders are committed in only 5% of all counties in the United States…and that 52% of all American counties had no murders.” Which means – as your numbers lower down show – that most US counties have very low populations. Duh.
I think you might well have some interesting things to say, but as long as you add in these obviously misleading data, I am afraid I cannot trust the rest.
On the ‘people will get weapons anyway’ front, surely it makes a huge difference to both murder and suicide statistics that a simple and efficient tool to kill is straight to hand. Let me tell you my favourite UK anecdote here.
Mark Duggan was killed by police in London in 2011. He was stopped in an intelligence-led operation while known to be transporting a load of illegal weapons for a group of criminals. He had left his car and was moving his hands rapidly when he was shot. And as it turned out he did not have any weapons on his person, they were in a box. But the interesting point: what do you think that load of illegal weapons was? It was one single-shot handgun converted from a starters pistol. (!) This is the kind of weapon that UK criminals get their hands on. Now tell me again that ‘people will get weapons anyway’.
Please write an article for UnHerd.
“[N]either side has any easy answers to this nigh-insoluble problem.” Insofar as this is true, the reason is because this problem is borne not of mental health policy, nor of gun control policy, but of something much deeper: it’s the symptom of an aimless, heartless, foundation-less culture collapsing in on itself.
After all, it is the official state policy of the USA, taught in all its government schools, that human existence is a result of chance. Students cannot be taught that God exists, nor that there are binding, eternal moral obligations that transcend culture, personal opinion, passing whim, etc.
So what happens if you teach several generations of people that humans have no inherent value, that they must decide for themselves what is right or wrong, and that what seems right to them is the only real standard for making decisions? What happens is (among other things) people at the margins deciding that these random acts of violence will provide some kind of catharsis / revenge / notoriety, which outweighs whatever modest value other peoples’ lives might have.
Bravo!! You are spot on Kirk!! Generations have been taught “it” is all by chance. There is no purpose to your life. Without the morality taught (imo-by the Bible) what is the point. Everyone is looking for something believe in and in current culture we have been taught to look at only ourselves and self love blah blah blah. What happens when you come to the end of self? It’s a scary proposition.
America is much more religious than most of Europe, however Europe doesn’t have anywhere near the level of social problems that America does so perhaps blaming the decline of religion isn’t correct?
“Europe doesn’t have anywhere near the level of social problems that America does” – I don’t think this is true, though I also suspect that you and I won’t even agree on what constitutes a “social problem”… Is fertility below replacement a social problem? How about children raised without active paternal involvement? How about stagnating living standards? Sexual abuse a la Rotherham?
At least we can probably agree that violent crime is bad, and that there is more violent crime in the US than in Europe. But then you have to standardize for ethnic and cultural heterogeneity, if you want to compare apples-to-apples. I don’t think there’s much evidence that Europeans in general live healthier, happier, more meaningful lives than Americans.
They live significantly longer, for one thing. US life expectancy was always lower, and is now falling.
That may be, but why? If one controls for certain demographic groups, the “falling” you mentioned disappears. Same goes for violent crime rates. The real scandal is that, in the US, our “helping” is not helping. And yet we keep doing it. It’s enough to make one wonder whether our aim really is helping.
Could you expand on that? As a European I do not know enough to join the dots.
Some in the US say that giving, to good effect, is not easy task. One example is a young man, who worked for many years with the poor, in New Orleans. He would tell folks: “Please don’t give money to the guy begging in the street. He is my friend. That money he will use to hurt himself. I don’t want to see him hurt again. Give him a hamburger. But please, I beg you, no money.
Yes…but also no.
State policy is that Church and State / God & the Mundane business of a public education be separated. But God …and how to live a good and moral life, all that is, and always has been, the ‘business’ (so to speak) of the Family & Church.
That the State itself does not speak to transcendent Meaning or Purpose is not really the issue. Rather it is the tragic fact that both Family & Church have defaulted to what many call a kind of ‘Therapeutic Deism’ in which the ‘purpose’ of life is to be happy and feel good about one’s self.
In such a desert of Moral Relativism, there is no such thing as Mortal Sin, there is only for each of us, our own ‘lived truth’ and feeling self-affirmed. Murder, of course, is still a no-good, very bad, thing….but hey, according to critical theory, there are no ‘bad’ people, there are only naturally good people who have been warped by systemic racism, systemic sexism, systemic misogyny, systemic paternalism, systemic capitalism, you name it.
And I can pretty much guaranteed that a narrative which emerges from Nashville will center about the ‘victimization’ of the homicidal sociopath by a ‘system’ which did not allow her to be happy and feel good about ‘himself’.
But yes, regardless, you are absolutely right when you describe what happens when generations have been taught that there is no absolute!
”according to critical theory, there are no ‘bad’ people, there are only naturally good people who have been warped by systemic racism, systemic sexism, systemic misogyny, systemic paternalism, systemic capitalism…” If there are only naturally good people, then, according to critical theory, where do these oppressive evils come from? The sense of the Biblical answer to this conundrum is one of the reasons I accepted Christianity (Christ) as my path and guiding philosophy.
Why should schools teach that God exists when that is a belief, underscored by absolutely no evidence whatsoever? By all means believe if you want, but to teach something as fact when it isn’t would be a betrayal of teaching.
Do you want to live in a community which teaches its children: (a) That killing random strangers is wrong? (b) That killing random strangers is not wrong? or (c) That whether killing random strangers is wrong, is not a “fact” and hence not the province of government schools to teach?
And if your answer is (a), then you have to prepare the teachers to answer also the follow up question… “But why?”
Get real – all cultures, all societies, all schools, all humans embody, transmit and teach values, and they teach the source of those values. We do not live in a “facts vs. values” world. We live in a facts-via-values world. It is an unavoidable “fact” of the human condition.
We need to take Solzhenitsyn’s words to heart here: “the line between good and evil runs through every human heart.”
The Right needs to recognize that there are crazy, Righty people who believe (and sometimes act on) stupid and dangerous things.
The Left needs to recognize that the world is not just sacred victims and deplorable oppressors, that there are plenty of progressives who believe (and sometimes act on) stupid and dangerous things.
It’s a little like the Russia / Ukraine war. One side says “Putin’s a dangerous thug!” and the other says “we made him that way!”… but both can be true at once. And any solution requires recognition that both ARE true.
Are guns too available in America? Of course! Evidence: we keep having lunatics blowing people away with them.
Are we cultivating crime and mental illness by refusing to condemn and punish bad behavior? Yes! Take a walk in San Francisco (if you can.)
I’m tired of having to protect the “conservative” tribe from the “progressive” tribe. I want to spend my efforts protecting the “American” tribe. Can we somehow get back to that?
So, correctly fund mental health services do that those struggling can get the help they require as well as gun control laws on par with Europe should work. Sounds sensible to me
Sadly, there no longer exists an “American” tribe.
She bought seven guns, all legally.
Trans-identification is automatically a mental illness. At best, it’s a male homosexual from birth who’s been acting very feminine his whole life, is no threat to women, and simply wants to have relationships with heterosexual males. Guys like this never called themselves actual women and didn’t go around bullying women. Their “mental health” issues would be adjusting to a condition that society until recently treated shamefully.
Usually men who do this are autogynephiles & histrionic misogynists. The females are in the rapid onset gender dysphoria cult and want an escape hatch from sexual identification and objectification in a porn-obsessed world.
I still don’t see any mention of the contents of the “manifesto.” I suspect they’ll cover it up because it’s pro-trans, anti-christian hate, wherein she’s claiming the school “erases trans people” and she was saving the souls of these poor children from white, cis, heteronormative supremacy.
Hard to keep this straight, I know…but the last I heard the shooter was a biological female who was ‘identifying’ as male, using his/him pronouns.
There is no sane reason for anyone to have access to assault weapons. This woman had two. Assault weapons are most commonly used for mass shootings. They were banned for a decade from 1994 but you chose to restore them. Meanwhile, you smugly talk of ‘grappling with the next round of school shootings’. A country that has normalised the discussion of school shootings is a country that has lots its mind.
Every thing that comes out of America is bad. We must not follow.
Assault weapons are still banned. Assault-style weapons are legal but they are just an asthetic. A hunting rifle gussed up to look scary. I live in an area awash with them and we haven’t had a murder in over a decade. Meanwhile, Chicago bans nearly all guns and they are worse than Caracas. Get you head out of your ass. I am sick of ignorance driving gun policy.
Of course, remember that guns don’t kill people, people do – just ban people! 45,000 gun deaths a year is now ‘normal’ – wow!
A huge majority of which are in big blue cities with the most restrictive laws already. Drug sellers don’t give a rat’s behind about the law to begin with? Do you think that if they made guns really, really, really, really illegal, instead of merely really, really illegal, this would all stop?
It doen’t matter if you have restrictive gun laws if you can nip over to the next jurisdiction and buy a gun (or indeed, buy one on-line).
If half of those are suicides, as I believe that they are, then it is unlikely that distribution is biased towards ‘blue cities’.
I doubt that any other countries would consider that US gun laws make guns ‘really, really illegal’. However it really doesn’t matter as you (assuming that you are in the US) have gone past tipping point in gun ownership and abuse. You have made your own bed, or rather coffin, and must lie in it.
Rather like climate change ! – maybe there is a trend here eg govt policies are dictated by what the herd will vote for rather t han wisdom per se – ie you are correct – we humans are having to live with the results of our collective choices . Always we understand our stupidity in hindsight when it is TOO LATE to effect much change . Tho I guess handwringing might feel emotionally somewhat satisfying. Suck it up people , accept responsibility and stop whinging for your idiot past decisions !
Banning weapons in a single state is utterly pointless when you can just go next door and buy what you like. It either has to be nationwide or not at all.
Also it’s a chicken and egg scenario. Do those cities have more problems because they’ve placed heavier restrictions on guns, or did they do so because they already had elevated levels of gun violence? Seeing as those areas tend to be the most deprived and have much bigger issues around gangs and drug abuse I’d wager it’s the second
Guns are really really restricted in the UK, as are a huge variety of different kinds of knives, and even legal knives are age restricted purchases. That doesn’t stop the local gangs from stabbing each other, often with kitchen knives. We now rarely have a day go by without some kind of knife related crime incident in my area. We’ve also had multiple gun incidents in recent years, and local schools have been put under lockdown repeatedly due to individuals in the area with weapons of some variety (we do now teach UK children to practice US style school lockdowns in case of armed individuals, the same as we get them to practice fire alarms, but they are mostly used as preventative actions for incidents on the streets surrounding the schools, with the exception of the Crawley College incident).
Other countries manage to have high numbers of legally owned guns and knives readily available to the populace, yet have very low rates of violent crime compared to both my area and areas of the US with high rates of violent crime (it’s not evenly spread across the US, as other commenters have already pointed out).
The issues with violent crime are rooted not in the particulars of the tools used, but in the socio-cultural conditions that incentivise the use of violence. Even if they were to ban butter knives, it would not stem the tide of stabbings in my area, it would merely create a massive market for shiv production.
Even if the US were to magically ban all guns tomorrow, the millions of guns there would not simply vanish into the night, all that would happen is that legal gun owners would either lose their guns or become illegal gun owners, and those who already care nothing for the pre-existing gun laws would continue to not care.
The social-cultural conditions are the thing that has to be dealt with, as the Pandora’s box of guns is not reasonably able to be shut, even if the populace wanted it to be gun free, which they by and large don’t.
We really should just make murder illegal. Problem solved.
Turn that around a bit. There is no reason for an insane person to have an assault weapon. She didn’t have one, she had guns that looked like the one I used but wasn’t. Did you have an assault weapon? Did someone use one against you? The Assault Weapon Ban accomplished little. Get informed first then pontificate.
Treatment of the mentally ill, toning down the discourse, accurate, unbiased reporting and finally law enforcement acting on threats will go much further than taking legal weapons away from legal owners.
One thing you won’t have in England is a shooting with an assault weapon or most any firearm, but you will have lots of killings with other weapons, just not by the cops who can mostly blow a whistle and look at CCTV after the act.
Don’t worry about us, clean up your own pigsty.
Yep, drive any 4 wheeled vehicle through a shopping area and the result will be very similar. A number of people dead, injured and many traumatised. Something else that can be prevented with mental health care in place. Much more effective than banning vehicles.
Vehicles are not designed to kill – guns are.
They are arguably tools; in the hands of a hunter they are tool to bring down an animal to feed the hunter, in the hands of a soldier or law enforcement, they can be used to defend and protect, even if that means kill.
Many things can be used as weapons to kill if the desire is there. Banning weapons does not stop people from killing. It’s treating the symptom not the cause of the malady.
Banning guns makes it harder to kill, so it will reduce the number of killings. No more toddlers shooting their siblings or mothers for example.
They are tools – tools for killing whether that be animals, scary criminals or toddlers.
They are tools which every country has available to some extent. I presume from your comments that you haven’t grown up or lived for any period of time in a household that legally owned guns, because it isn’t that common an experience in the UK, particularly for those who live in urban areas.
My former partner worked in a rural setting, legally owned guns, and kept them on our property. I was never scared of those guns, I was never scared of the many gun owners around me, because it was simply normal, and nobody was looking at them as anything besides management tools for the farm and the wider estate.
There are many legally owned guns in the UK, there are even some semi-automatic guns that are able to be owned here. Go to any gun club in the UK and you will see semi-automatics in use.
If we want to be honest and pedantic about it, vehicles are nothing more than 2-3 ton controlled explosive devices driven every day at 120-130km/hour by distracted people. Vehicles are absolutely designed to kill.
Yet vehicles kill far more people than guns do. Funny that.
UK 1.1 / 100,000
USA 6.5 / 100,000
We are very happy to have police who are largely not armed with guns – that way the criminals are less likely to be armed with guns. That way fewer people will be shot.
CH 0.54 / 100,000 and higher gun ownership per capita than the US.
Indeed Switzerland is a vary law-abiding country, but according to this:
Civilian gun ownership per 100 persons is:
Note that gun ownership in Switzerland is entirely different to the USA. Guns are by-and-large not sidearms and they are kept in locked safes as part of the civil defence system after compulsory military service (or something like that anyway, I am no expert). You are certainly not allowed to carry them around at will. Quite a difference!
120.5 guns per 100 persons?
I think not.
Which the chicken and which the egg?
If crimes precede the police required to catch criminals, then it’s far more likely that the largely unarmed criminal committing largely non-violent crimes triggers the creation of a police force which is itself also largely unarmed. And visa-versa.
The entire Western Hemisphere is a different kind of animal with murder rates scattered across Central & South America which are astronomical (making America look positively gentle). Honduras 89/100K…Venezuela 79….Jamaica 48…Bahamas 37..Brazil 29, etc. The United States, on the same chart, shows as 5.0 (practically a nirvana, in comparison)
A quick Google seems to show that the murder rate in the UK is around 1.1 per 100k people, while in the US it’s around 6.5 per 100k. Perhaps taking away the tools that allow people to kill each other much more easily does lower the murder rate, and our pigsty is in fact much cleaner than yours?
And if pigs could fly, pigsties would be a different thing indeed.
It’s an interesting question, of course, but it’s also an apples & oranges question. Britain was not primarily a wilderness 250 years ago. Britain does not have a 250 year tradition of gun ownership. Britain does not have a 2nd Amendment . Britain is not dealing with 400M weapons in civilian hands…or the legal/logistical/tactical challenge of trying to “take away ” those 400M tools from maybe 200M individuals who hold them legally.
Essentially it’s a fantasy hypothetical….which also ignores the fact that 99.996% of those weapons are not used to murder anyone. [And many of those that are being used to murder people are being held illegally as is].
We might as well speculate that ‘taking away the homicidal impulse’….or ‘taking away the drugs’….or ‘taking away the moral indifference’ might well lower the murder rate. I would agree. All we need is that magic wand!
Automatic weapons (which refers to weapons that fire automatically without requiring the trigger to be pulled for each shot) are indeed banned. Semi-automatic weapons (which refers to weapons which require a trigger to be pulled for each shot, but automatically reload the chamber with a new round, rather than requiring the additional step of manually reloading the chamber) are not banned. “Assault weapon” is a political term that is used to refer to whatever weapon one wants to see banned — automatic or semi-automatic or both — that people like to use because it helps to obscure what specific kinds of guns they are seeking to have banned.
Semi-automatic rifles include pretty much all hunting rifles used in the US. The “assault rifles” just are styled to look like military weapons — they function the same way that a semi-automatic hunting rifle does.
Please don’t let facts get in the way of a good whine.
‘There is no sane reason for anyone to have access to assault weapons.’
Police have them. Of course, police brutality is unknown, so that’s fine.
When was the last time police shot somebody in America?
Not quite sure what your argument is here; could you please elucidate.
It’s called irony.
It actually doesn’t happen all that often except when the person they are shooting at is also shooting at them.
If you are going to write about America, it helps to know a little about the country. The USA is not Britain. Gun rights are guaranteed in the Constitution. The reason is that the American Founding Fathers actually encouraged individuals to be able to defend themselves and their property. They also wanted to prevent a tyranny from enslaving a docile population.
So what guns are we talking about? Guns where you pull the trigger once and a bullet fires. You press again, the gun fires again. A revolver or a pistol does this. So does a rifle. This is called “semi-automatic”. In other words – a gun. The idea of “assault weapons” is just cosmetic. All guns fire the same way, except shot-guns which require you to rack them each time you fire.
Guns which keep firing from one trigger pull are “automatic”, aka machine guns. They are already banned. So either ban all guns or not, but don’t pretend there is an “assault weapons” ban. It’s nonsense.
There are 350 million guns in America. More than one per person. The cat is out of the bag. It’s not going back in.
Mass shootings are avoided when a good person with a gun quickly kills or disarms a bad person with a gun. If more schools had armed staff, very few shooters would even try it. That’s the statistics: almost all mass shootings occur in places where guns are banned. Hence only the criminal has a gun, and victims have to wait for the police to arrive.
So Americans should arm the pupils and teachers, or place armed guards around the perimeter of every school?
At the very least, “harden the target.” At my daughter’s school, once classes are in session, all outside entry points are locked. For that matter, classroom doors can be secured, too. Of course, that may not prevent someone from smuggling in a weapon (although good luck concealing a rifle or shotgun), but then there are also metal detectors.
And frankly, I’d be willing to see responsible faculty carry concealed, with proper instruction. Or in the case of public schools, armed and trained resource officers from the local PD. The data show that the vast majority of these goblins either surrender or kill themselves when confronted by credible armed resistance. It’s not pretty, but it might save some lives.
The video showed the shooter simply shooting out the glass and wandering through, I’m not sure locking the doors will do an awful lot in that situation, neither would metal detectors as she made no attempt to smuggle the guns in
I don’t believe she targeted a public school (and I’m sure that regulations vary state to state and possibly within state as well) but a small Christian private school and the doors were not particularly heavily secured.
I live in the states and one of my kids attended a private preschool that had similar doors to the Christian school here. The public schools my kids currently attend had their entryways upgraded recently and in order to get in during school hours you must stand in front of camera and show ID to a member of the office staff who buzzes you in to an entryway, and you must not hold the door open for another person. In the entryway they can get a better look at you through the glass (I believe it is bullet proof) before they buzz you in to the main office. If you need to enter the main building, you hand over your ID to be scanned and are given a temp ID sticker. You then wait for a teacher to come and escort you to the appropriate room and then they escort you out when you are done. This process isn’t followed isn’t followed during special events.
It isn’t foolproof, but someone like her would have a much harder time getting into a public school around here during normal school hours.
Sure, if you make every school into a fortress with armed guards, killers will find it harder to make mass killing in schools. Killers will then graduate to cinemas, theatres, and bars. When you make those into fortresses defended by armed guards, there are still shopping malls and parks. It is all beginning to sound rather like Iraq during the war.
I think I am going to stay in Europe.
When Israel was having a problem with terrorist attacks on their schools they armed their teachers. Problem went away.
It is interesting the writer discusses dispositional (motivations) and situational (gun access) states with a loss correlational with right and left political leanings, respectively, and then goes on to discuss gun access without much interrogation of any various motivational pressures that may also be at play.
This article was obviously written hastily to react to the horrific murders that took place yesterday.However, it appears to basically be a rehash of a million older peices that go: Left says blah, Right says blah blah , Conclusion- nothing can be done.
This is not really about a culture war, it is about children growing up in real fear for their lives. Lives ruined whilst the great and the good wring their hands but do nothing of substance.
I live in the UK. It took Hungerford and Dunblaine to change laws that shifted the balance from the rights to have guns for some, to the right to life of all. Life surely takes precedence over unfettered Liberty in any sane democratic society.
I am not a politician so I can say the unsayable
It cannot be beyond the ability of the huge number of Law enforcement agencies in the USA to restrict access to deadly weapons to those who suffer from a wide range of Mental health issues. Someone who suffers from depression is not being helped in their recovery/treatment by having a gun laying around. A person who denies the physical reality of every cell in their body should similarly at least have a question mark on their gun licence.
Jake Davison is U.K. citizen that foils the UKs superior position on gun access for mental health patients.
Mayhap the US looks to why so many of its citizens take particular issue with school to the degree that they feel the need to shoot them up!
In the last ten years there have been 5 mass shootings in the UK (defined as 4 or more people injured or killed), resulting in the deaths of 7 people, an appalling waste of 7 lives. Over the same period there have been 4170 mass shootings in the USA. I can’t find a source for the number of deaths, or at least not a reliable source, but I think that we can safely say it was more than 7. So, I think that this does rather support the “UKs superior position on gun access for mental health patients“, or indeed, anyone.
When we have a superior mental health service, then the U.K. can have bragging rights, as it is, it equally sucks and then main reason the US looks so woefully behind is that it’s bigger with a greater population.
Say for easy arithmetic, the population is 5 times greater than the UK. So there were 5 mass shootings in the UK, which would be equivalent to 25 in the US. Not quite 4170.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) for 2019, which is the last complete year available, in the USA 397 people were murdered with hammers, 364 people were murdered with rifles (AKA “assault weapons”) and 600 people were killed by hands/fists/feet. Poor Mr. (Nancy) Pelosi suffered hammers and hands. At least this sad incident highlights the danger of allowing just anyone to own a hammer, and I would assume the Democrats will adjust their priorities to banning hammers, hands and fists, prior to banning “assault weapons”.
I just looked that up (you can too!).
13,927 murder victims – More than 73 percent (73.7) of the homicides for which the FBI received weapons data in 2019 involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 62.1 percent of the firearms used in murder.
Directly copied from the FBI site
It still doesn’t answer why gun killing is most prevalent in cities with the most restrictive gun laws. Creating more laws is not the answer. Deep down, many of us know the real answer, but don’t have the courage to say so. The West has lost its moral compass. A society where everything goes will experience everything, including mass shootings and the denial of one’s biological sex.
I’m not a politician, so I can also say the unsayable.
Correct. As Orwell pointed pre 1914 anyone could walk into a hardware store and buy a gun. Britons had fire arms from very small revolvers to rifles which could kill elephants.By 1945 millions had been trained to kill and been in combat? Those in the Commando type units had had very extensive training on how to kill. Why were there no mass shootings?
People had a decency which meant they had self control produced by other a thousand years of laws and conduct based upon the Bible. The first Saxon laws dating from 650 AD were based upon tribal custom and The Bible.
If one removes emotional mature self control, mental resilience to cope with failure combined with a sense of responsibility from people, one is left with a primate with access to advanced technology.
And the USA of the 1960s that I spent my childhood in had equally large numbers of WW2 and Korean War vets as well as civilian shooters who didn’t go off the deep end and commit school shootings.
We’ve done a great job of raising a lot of people with no self-control, no religious grounding, incredible anomie, and now confusion as to even something as whether they are men or women. And we wonder at the end results.
Well, I tried to respond to you earlier, but am in the Unherd “Comment Awaiting Approval” penalty box.
Take two: The USA has always had more firearms ownership than a lot of other countries. Growing up in a very liberal West Coast city in the 1960s, I still met plenty of WW2 and Korean War vets who had the training you mention, and there were still a decent number of sporting goods stores with gun sections. Heck, I even belonged to a junior marksmanship team, and the city owned a public shooting range! Yet, we did not see this kind of sick mayhem.
As you state, when any society de-emphasizes personal responsibility, respect for laws and norms of behavior, self control and emotional resilience, and civic virtues, then that society will reap what it sows.
Thank you for saying this. Despite Mr. Batsman’s whining about “endless culture wars,” the fact is that yes, there IS an ongoing culture war, and that it is downstream from the loss of any moral compass and (dare I say it) walking away from faith. The USA has had higher numbers of firearms than many other Western nations for a long time; why weren’t they common back in the early 20th Century? Why is this sick behavior a phenomenon of the past 20-30 years?
B Davis above says that the murder rate was c.50% higher in 1934, and also in 1980.
The unfortunate, infrequently acknowledged truth is, the majority of Americans are on some type of anti-psychotic. We are all mad here.
The elephant in the room is that nearly all people who are calling themselves transgender now are by their own admission suffering from mental illnesses in one form or another. It’s not surprising that some of these end up violent.
If you have an illegal gun in America, you should go to jail.
The killer had an illegal gun.
Stop and search people. Put people found with illegal guns in jail.
I’m a gun owner, and I have zero problem with that. Or actually enforcing existing gun laws. Or seriously addressing mental illness.
BTW, none of my legal firearms has ever been used in a crime, nor have I ever committed a crime. So why are my state’s increasingly restrictive laws aimed at me?
Well, not really.
No one knows Dave has an illegal gun until Dave commits a crime with his illegal gun…and then gets caught…. in which case he’s going to jail anyway for the crime he used the gun to commit. The only thing illegal gun crime violations do is put Dave in jail a bit longer. (which is not a bad thing…but it clearly does not really solve much of the problem at all, since the primary crime has already been committed)
If you’re inclined to use an illegal gun to rob, rape, and murder …the fact of it’s illegality will not deter you in the least.
She had seven guns, all legal from what I read.
I was surprised by the reporting because there seems to be a real push in the media to “not misgender” trans people so I assumed that Audrey had been born Aiden and not the other way around. It can’t just be the seriousness of the crime because we currently have rapists who are described along the lines of “She raped the victim with her p***s.” So, is there a different level of offence when it comes to Tims and Tiws? We must never call a Tim he but we can call a Tiw her? I’d hope this is a step forward but until the likes of Isla Bryson are reported using their male name and their crimes being described as a crime by a man then I’ll doubt that we’ve moved anywhere near sanity.
The shooters manifesto should be released. If the school was targeted because it is Christian it should be classified as a hate crime.
Why are you referring to him as ‘her’?
Never thought I’d ever write this sentence:
The shooter is/was a ‘her’, born a biological woman, who’s evidently been using masculine pronouns.
Make music, not murder.
Left and Right, locked in a zero-sum death match.
Let’s do all of the things, no other way to address this madness.
As always with these shootings, the focus is on the wrong place. Nobody really should give a damn about the shooter.
People want to know Why? and to do that the motives of the killer need to be understood. You could, of course, say that you don’t care why, but for law makers and psychologists knowing why a person committed a crime is important in order to find ways of preventing this. There are numerous other things to understand too, e.g. the effectiveness of gun laws.
There is far too much talk about the pronouns of the shooter. Complete nonsense. All about the shooter. Not too much about the victims including three nine-year old children.
The wrong place?
The decision to kill 6 innocents was entirely the shooter’s decision. That, indeed, is exactly where the focus should be, shouldn’t it?
Doesn’t the moral responsibility for that horrific act lie entirely with her and no other?
Conversely…if we are not to look to the Shooter and her homicidal socio-pathology…what are we to look at?
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