Professor A.C. Grayling, citizen disarmament advocate and author of "Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life Without God," strikes a heroic pose.
A tip of the boonie hat and deep genuflection to Snaggle-Tooth Jones for forwarding a link to this opinion by Professor A.C. Grayling entitled: "What would Breivik be without a gun? The global arms trade inevitably leads to the sort of atrocity inflicted on Norway. The killing machine has to be stopped."
In discussion of the atrocity in Norway last week, there is one subject which has been notable by the almost total silence about it: guns. In response to recurring massacres in American high schools and British villages, in response to footage from Africa and Afghanistan showing ragged, untrained young men brandishing automatic small arms, in response to a man coolly murdering dozens of youngsters in an hour-and-a-half, funfair-like shooting spree on a Norwegian island, where is the outrage at the fact that the world is awash with small arms, that people are making money legally and without blemish to their reputations out of the manufacture and sale of instruments purposely designed to kill?
It is said that you can get a Kalashnikov in the Horn of Africa in exchange for three small children. But before the sale of children for weapons, and before the mayhem and death that results from the use of those weapons, there is the arms trade in a wide range of handguns and high-powered automatic rifles. Every one of these instruments is designed and created for the express purpose of killing. The irresponsible argument of the American gun lobby – that it is not guns that kill, but the people who handle them – is the first point to contest: if Anders Behring Breivik had carried only a knife or a wooden club, he would have been severely restricted in the harm he could do. The same would have been true at Hungerford and Dunblane, at Columbine High School and Kent State University; the agonies of Darfur and Helmand would be vastly less; in fact the world would be a different and happier place if guns were few and their possession a matter of strict official control.
KENT STATE? Huh? Think what you will about what happened there, the arms at Kent State were certainly under "strict official control."
Kent State: An example of the absence of "strict official control" of firearms?
The befuddled professor continues:
Our world stands on its head in most things, but in nothing more so than the fact that a crazy person can buy a gun, an extremely dangerous device, in an American or Norwegian shop, but "drugs" are prohibited and policed at vast expense to society. Indeed, the ironies are still greater: because drugs (excluding some of the most dangerous and harmful, such as alcohol and nicotine) are criminalised but the gun trade is not, the gangs who smuggle the drugs shoot each other with the guns, and not infrequently shoot the policemen who chase them also. This is a stark example of the irrationality of our arrangements. Ban guns and put heroin under the same licensing regulations as alcohol – fools will continue to abuse both, harming mainly themselves: the abuse of guns harms others, and too often too many others – and at a stroke billions of dollars and thousands of lives (think Mexico) would be saved.
Evidently Grayling has not heard of the U.S. government's Gunwalker plot to fuel the Mexican cartels' wars.
Guns should be the subject of worldwide outrage. Their manufacture and sale should be a human-rights abuse, on which we pour vilification and horror. They should be illegal for all but properly constituted, trained and controlled agencies of governments, provided of course that the governments in question are themselves properly constituted and controlled by democratic means in a society where the rule of law obtains.
Human-rights agencies with representation at the UN in Geneva, such as the one I belong to (the International Humanist and Ethical Union), should begin campaigning for the manufacture and sale of small arms to be universally outlawed, and governments (such as the British government) which have responsible attitudes to gun control should be urged to join the campaign.
Srebrenica Massacre Victim: Bosnian Muslim trussed, blindfolded, and shot by Serbian government forces while UN "peacekeepers" stood by and did nothing. The arms at Srebrenica were certainly under "strict official control."
Uh, huh. Yes, we've seen how well the UN protects human rights in places like Bosnia and Rwanda. And for those functions such as reducing animal populations? Grayling has an answer for that, too.
There are easy ways to deal with the need by farmers to control rabbits, and game-park keepers to cull overpopulated herds: if there are genuinely no alternatives to the use of guns in such cases, a small range of suitable guns could be borrowed, under strict licence and for short periods, from the authorities for the express purpose in hand, but not allowed to remain in the community otherwise. If we can legislate for car-seats for children, we can legislate to keep highly dangerous killing instruments out of public hands.
"Highly dangerous killing instruments": language matters: let us no longer use the word "gun" but that phrase "highly dangerous killing instrument", and perhaps perceptions will change. No doubt weapons manufacturers and lobbyists everywhere would regard with equal outrage the idea of severely limiting the number of highly dangerous killing instruments in public circulation, their existence being permitted only under official lock and key. What would these lobbyists argue in opposition? That highly dangerous killing instruments are for sport, for hunting (this last will not wash: killing things for sport? That is itself disgusting), for the fun of loud noises?
All right-thinking people must cower before the immanent force of such logic.
Now here's an example of the "strict official control" of firearms.
Americans with views not too far removed from those of Anders Behring Breivik say that they "need" their guns to "defend their freedoms", meaning against the tyranny of government and federal taxes. They should be reminded that it is the ballot, not the bullet, that is meant to do that job for them.
In fact, there are no good arguments in favour of the existence of highly dangerous killing instruments, and millions of excellent arguments against them, these being each human being, and indeed each elephant and tiger, shot to death by them. The Norwegian tragedy should be absolutely the last straw for civilised humanity on this subject, no further excuses allowed.
Here's another example of the "strict official control" of firearms.
Yes, well, here's the email I sent to Herr Professor Grayling:
Sent: Sun, Jul 31, 2011 10:15 am
Subject: re: The practical mathematics of your firearm confiscation proposal.
Herr Professor Grayling (addressing you in German seems so much more appropriate):
Regarding your op-ed: What would Breivik be without a gun?
If you wish the privately-held arms of the United States to be confiscated, I invite you to come and take them. Please bring the UN with you. They will no doubt be of as much help as the UN "peacekeepers" were to the Bosnian Muslims when they stood by impotently and watched as the Serbian government forces slaughtered them in the thousands at Srebrenica. Besides, blue helmets make such convenient target markers.
The practical mathematics of your firearm confiscation proposal are, I think, unsustainable to the need and the proposal itself is morally suspect on its face, even if you do not believe that all rights are God-given and natural and thus, inalienable. (I refer you to the Declaration of Independence, a document crafted during the last time British tyrants tried to take our firearms and we killed enough to dissuade them of the proposition.)
Governments, Herr Professor, have killed many more tens of millions throughout the centuries with their firearms under "strict official control" than any in privately held hands. Adolf Hitler would certainly agree to your proposal, as would Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.
But as to the mathematics of your proposal, consider this. You are, I think, extrapolating from your own cowardice. If a tyrannical government ordered you to do something at the threat of loss of life, you would do it simply because your cravenly life is more important to you than anything else. Thus, you cannot grasp that there are other people who would die rather than to submit to tyranny such as you propose. And, Herr Professor, that means that they would kill for those reasons as well. You may disagree with that point of view, yet even you cannot deny that it exists in the United States in the numbers of millions.
There are roughly 100 million firearm owners in the United States at this point in time. Let us presume that just three percent of those are of the "cold-dead-hands-yours-or-mine-doesn't-matter" type. There were, during the last great British experiment at American firearm control, three percent of the colonial population who took the field actively against the Regulars and Tory militias of George III. But let us not over promise. Let us just predict that a mere three percent of American gun owners alone would do so again.
So, you have 3 million opponents to your proposal. That's three million bodies you propose to stack up before you get your way. The only thing is, we won't cooperate with your proposal. We will fight you to the death, yours or ours, it makes no difference. And we intend to make that more than a one to one ratio before we go down into your tyrannical good night. Please remember that WE are the ones with the firearms and the ability to use them effectively. In this we outnumber the police and military forces of the United States government by a considerable ratio, leaving aside the fact that most of the tip-of-the-spear troops are own sons and daughters. So, I ask you, does the mathematics of your proposal not daunt you a bit? Is it worth your own death, and those of millions?
What is so moral about government mass murders in the millions of recalcitrant citizens who insist upon their liberties and refuse to be disarmed?
You British have allowed yourselves to be disarmed by a government, for all the good it has done you. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Americans will.
The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters
PO Box 926
Pinson AL 35126
LATER: David Codrea's take on the same puke: British philosophy professor shows ultimate goal of gungrabbers