L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

18 April 2007 Blog Home : April 2007 : Permalink

Arm the Ladies

There doesn't seem to be much point in my blogging about the Virginia Tech tragedy directly - after all I'm not in America, know no one in Virginia etc. etc. - so instead I thought I might work my way through some of the arguments for/against controlling guns.

Firstly there is the obvious point that while gun control is designed to keep guns from "bad people" who wish to use these weapons to cimmit crimes it also impacts all those "good people" who just want to go target shooting, be able to defend themselves if attacked, go hunting etc. The standard argument, and I have some sympathy with it, says that very few "good people" need guns and therefore banning them does little more than inconvenience a few farmers and a couple of olympic sports. The problem is that banning guns does not magically get all the guns to disappear as, althouh all the guns owned by "good people" are handed in, very few guns owned by "bad people" are. Since this agument and counter argument is is well known and has been repeated in various ways every time some sort of gun crime grabs public attention I shall not bother to go over that well tilled soil but rather look at some of the underlying issues.

Firstly there is the problem with defining "bad people". As I see it there are basically three main categories of bad people who commit gun crimes, and any strategy to stop them needs to take all three into consideration.
  1. Psycho nutters. The ones that get the headlines by going out and killing a number of innocents
  2. Terrorists and others who perceive themselves as fighting a war against society
  3. Criminals who use guns as a part of their daily business from bank robbing to selling dugs to intimidation to contract killing
There may be overlap between these three categories but in general they are separate.

Group 1 is frequently affected by gun control. On the other hand group 1 is also the group that tends to provide the biggest impetus for more gun control because the nutters who make up group 1 are the ones who kill random strangers for little or no reason anyone else can understand. Many of these people are known to have psychological problems or other issues with relating to how they interact with the world. Group 1 therefore includes the stalkers or jilted ex-spouses or lovers who decide that they need to kill their former lover and/or his/her new love. Banning guns may reduce mass shooting sprees, and may reduce some "crimes of passion", but there are plenty of disturbed people who kill their victims in other ways. And of course banning guns makes it harder for the "good people" who are their victims to defend themselves.

Group 2 usually have enough back up from places where guns are common that if they want a gun they can get it. Sure the ready availability of guns may make things easier but if you are dedicated to the "cause" then you are unlikely to be too bothered by the risks involved in smuggling a firearm across a border. The fact that UK based Islamic terrorists seem not t ohave done this appears to me to be more due to the fact that they figure they can do more damage more easily using explosives than they can using aimed firearms.

Group 3 are the most common gun-criminals. Because they seem gun usage as primarily a business tool they tend not to kill too many innocents so they rarely make the headlines. Gun control may stop some group three members from getting hold of firearms but it won't stop the hardened pros and it mostly doesn't matter because gun control means that they need have less fear that someone they are attacking or threatening may turn out to be armed.

So gun control probably reduces the number of gun-victims killed by group one (and may reduce the total number of murders from tis group) but has little effect on groups two and three except to make it easier for them to commit other crimes by threatening (or carrying out threats on) "good people" that they can expect to be unarmed.

So what about the victims? Group one's victims are at least 50% female while the make up of group one is almost exclusively male. Training and arming most or all women would at least allow the victim class a chance to fight back. Unfortunately at least some killers would simply take the gun from their victim and use it on the victim so simply arming all women would not stop group one completely. On the other hand it seems unlikely to do much harm. Since women are weaker than men in most cases when neither party has a gun most men can subdue and kill most women. In the rarer shooting spree cases, if a woman had her weapon stolen by the killer the chances are that some other woman would either shoot him herself or hand her weapon over to some husky man to use on her behalf. Either way, rather than being helpless and at the mercy of their killers, the people being attacked would probably be able to counterattack.

The victims of group two are pretty much random groups of people and hence likely to include women. There are some female members of group two but not many so as with group one arming women would probably induce the group two folks to find a different way to kill - something that they seem quite willing to do anyway.

Group three's victims often include women, along with elderly folks and others who are weaker than the criminals. Group three's victims also include members of group three (i.e. they frequently kill fellow killers) and group three does have a numnber of female members - although going on prison populations the majority of group three seems to be male. Thus arming the ladies will not of itself stop all group three deaths although it may well reduce a number of related crimes such as rape. Rapists of all kinds, from date rapers to the serial rapists who haunt parks and dark streets, might well wonder whether it was not better to surf the internet for porn than to actually risk assaulting a woman who probably has a gun.

All in all it seems to me that, even if you decide to prohibit the men from being also armed, arming the ladies would be a good thing with little downside and lots of probably upside.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin