The Derrick Bird case has predictably brought Britain’s gun control maniacs back into the limelight and has also led to the usual leftist musings on the nature of modern society and how maybe it is to blame for his actions. The always excellent Heresy Corner has cut through much of this nonsense and also makes this very interesting observation:
We shall probably never know what went on in Derrick Bird’s head. There is one incident that stands out, however. In 2007, Bird was assaulted by a fare-dodger who knocked him unconscious and broke his teeth. The assailant was convicted of actual bodily harm, but the attack was said to have left Bird “nervous and anxious” and unwilling to work nights. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but it does raise the possibility that he sustained brain damage. Head injury not infrequently leads to personality change, and in some cases the full effect does not emerge for some years. Damage to the frontal lobes can be particularly dangerous, since that area of the brain controls inhibitions and social relationships. If Bird was brain-damaged, then he may indeed have been a ticking time-bomb – but for purely physical reasons, not because of the deeply-buried and hitherto undetectable traumas of a life that perturbs only with hindsight. That’s just a speculation, of course, but it strikes me as more plausible than anything offered by the psychologists.
This is indeed far more plausible. The link between head injury and apparently motiveless murder is well established. Many infamous serial killers are known to have suffered head trauma, including Leonard Lake, David Berkowitz, Kenneth Bianchi, John Wayne Gacy, and Carl Panzram, as noted by this interesting Crime Library article, which explains:
The temporal lobe is highly susceptible to injury, located where the skull bone is thinnest. Blunt injuries, including falling on a hard surface, can easily damage this section of the brain, creating lesions, which cause forms of amnesia and epileptic seizures. Damage to the temporal lobe can result in hair-trigger violent reactions and increased aggressive responses. As a child, Ken Bianchi fell off of a jungle gym, and landed on the back of his head. He soon began to have epileptic seizures.
Researcher Dominique LaPierre believes that the “prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in long-term planning and judgment, does not function properly in psychopathic subjects.” Paleopsychologists also believe that there is some sort of malfunction in the brain of serial killers, that somehow their primitive brain overrides the “higher” brain: reason and compassion take a backseat to lust, aggression, and appetite. A study by Pavlos Hatzitaskos and colleagues reports that a large portion of death-row inmates have had severe head injuries, and that approximately 70% of brain-injured patients develop aggressive tendencies.
But surely, it might be argued, if guns were less readily available (not that they are readily available in gun control mad Britain), the Derrick Bird case may never have happened?
This is a spectacularly poor argument.
Firstly, it ignores the fact that, as Heresy Corner points out, in Switzerland, every household does indeed have a gun, and the last such mass-shooting there was in 2001.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it ignores the fact that where guns are not readily available, other weapons are used instead. Remember, a kitchen knife easily becomes a weapon in the wrong hands. A string of recent spree killings in China illustrate the fallacious nature of the ‘no guns, no killings’ argument, given the killers used knifes, cleavers, and hammers, none of which – presumably – the gun control lobby would like to ban.
Thirdly, statistical evidence from the United States completely undermines the notion that gun control leads to a reduction in violent crime:
In 1976, Washington, D.C., instituted one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. The murder rate since that time has risen 134 percent (77.8 per 100,000 population) while the overall rate for the country has declined 2 percent. Washington, D.C., politicians find it easy to blame Virginia’s less-stringent gun laws for the D.C. murder rate. Yet Virginia Beach, Virginia’s largest city with almost 400,000 residents, has had one of the lowest rates of murder in the country — 4.1 per 100,000.
In New York City, long known for strict regulation of all types of weapons, only 19 percent of the 390 homicides in 1960 involved pistols. By 1972, this proportion had jumped to 49 percent of 1,691. In 1973, according to the New York Times, there were only 28,000 lawfully possessed handguns in the nation’s largest city, but police estimated that there were as many as 1.3 million illegal handguns there.
In 1986, Maryland banned small, affordable handguns called Saturday night specials. Within two years, Maryland’s murder rate increased by 20 percent, surpassing the national murder rate by 33 percent. Then Maryland passed a one-gun-a-month law. Yet between 1997 and 1998, 600 firearms recovered from crime scenes were traced to Maryland gun stores. Virginia, one of only two other states with a similar law, ranked third as a source of guns used by criminals in other states.
On the other hand, New Hampshire has almost no gun control and its cities are rated among the safest in the country. Across the border in Massachusetts, which has very stringent gun-control laws, cities of comparable size have two to three times as much crime as New Hampshire.
Vermont has the least restrictive gun-control law. It recognizes the right of any Vermonter who has not otherwise been prohibited from owning a firearm to carry concealed weapons without a permit or license. Yet Vermont has one of the lowest crime rates in America, ranking 49 out of 50 in all crimes and 47th in murders.
States which have passed concealed-carry laws have seen their murder rate fall by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent, aggravated assaults by 7 percent and robbery by 3 percent.
Gun control arguments are – for the most part – based not on a rational analysis of the phenomena of gun ownership and violence involving guns, but rather on a knee-jerk fear of guns and an apparent belief that the actions of a tiny minority of citizens should be used as the benchmark for decisions about the rights of the majority.
If we were to apply the same type of ‘argument’ used by gun control advocates to other issues, here is what we might conclude:
1. Cars: Every year thousands of people are killed or injured in road accidents. This strongly suggests, therefore, that cars are too dangerous to be in the hands of the average citizen. If we banned cars, there would be no more road deaths.
2. Kitchen knives: According to police statistics, kitchen knives are the most commonly used weapon in instances of knife crime. Given a minority of citizens apparently cannot use kitchen knives responsibly, the country would be far safer if we banned all kitchen knives.
3. Prescription drugs: According to this 2005 article in The Times, around 1,200 people in Britain die each year from taking prescription drugs which have an adverse reaction on the patient. Clearly, we cannot have citizens using drugs that may lead to death, therefore we’d be better off banning prescription drugs.
4. Domestic violence: According to statistical data, 54% of UK rapes are committed by a woman’s current or former partner, 48% of women murdered in the UK are killed by their partner, ex-partner, or lover, and 85% of UK domestic violence cases involve male on female violence. Given these statistics, it should be clear that in order for women to be truly safe, they should never live with, or have a relationship with, a man. If women are to be safe in our society we should ban heterosexual relationships.
All of the hypothetical ‘arguments’ above are clearly absurd. They take extreme examples of minority abuse of things which are not intrinsically bad and then propose legislation for all based on the deviant behaviour of the few. Exactly the same point applies to guns.
Legally owned firearms in this country are used for two main purposes; sport, and protecting animals and crops in rural areas. Unlike in many other countries, we, average citizens, do not have the right to own a firearm for the legitimate purpose of protection from violence.
The idea that we need tougher gun control laws as a result of statistical anomalies such as Derrick Bird is irrational and absurd. Unlike Bird, the vast majority of legal gun owners in Britain will never use their firearms to commit a criminal act. The gun crime we hear so much about in the media is carried out by criminals and criminal gangs, not by responsible gun owners, and the majority of guns used by criminals are not legally registered (for obvious reasons). Gun control advocates inhabit a fantasy world in which if potentially dangerous things are removed from society, then we will all be safer. As we have seen, the evidence does not bear this out, and a logical application of the basic ‘argument’ of the gun control lobby to many other potentially dangerous items would lead to a society in which most of us could hardly own or use anything, for fear that it might be misused by a minority.