Recent events in Aurora Colorado and Oak Creek Wisconsin have prompted me to consider how such mass killings could be avoided or deterred. What has changed? What is different between today and say, 90 years ago?
90 years ago here in the USA, or at least most of it (NYC excepted), guns of all sorts were readily available, through the mail, no less. Anyone wanting to buy guns or ammunition could purchase them mail-order and have them promptly delivered by your friendly neighborhood postman. Not just rifles, pistols and shotguns, but machine guns from the Great War were readily available, not just through the mail, but over the counter. Maxim guns, Lewis guns, Thompson submachine guns, Browning Automatic Rifles, and 1917 and 1919 Browning machine guns could be bought for cash. No registration, no background checks, just pay your money and go.
People carried guns, too. Many people kept a pistol handy, just in case of trouble, and rifles and shotguns were a normal part of most households. My late father used to tell a story about a dentist of his acquaintance who kept a rifle behind one of the cabinets in his office, which was right across the street from the local bank. One day, while he was working on a patient, the alarm at the bank went off. The dentist put down his tools, looked out the window and saw a masked robber backing out of the bank. The dentist reached behind his cabinet for his rifle, and calmly shot the robber as he was getting into his getaway car. The dentist’s comment? “Well, I thought that that bank might get robbed someday, and I have my money in that bank!” The only unusual thing about this event at the time was the rarity of the robbery. Many people were prepared to deal with criminal behavior, rare as it was, and many crimes were stopped by the armed citizenry. As a result crime, even in the “Roaring Twenties,” was very low compared to today, and repeat crime rarer yet, in an environment where guns were everywhere. Makes you think, doesn't it?
When I was a child, riflery was an elementary school Phys Ed elective, and kids used to bring their .22s to school on the school bus Mondays and Wednesdays. We'd move the bleachers out of the way, set up the bullet traps in the gym, and shoot small bore competitions there. There was an armory at the elementary school, which not only had .22 rifles that belonged to the school, but Springfields and Garands, too. The junior rifle club shot at the gym, and at the other junior high and high schools, too. Guns everywhere, even on the school bus, yet I do not recall ever hearing of a school shooting then.
Today, however, despite, or perhaps more accurately because of restrictions on firearms ownership, crime is rampant. Tens of thousands of restrictions on gun ownership have been passed, and crime rises as a result. Few politicians pay attention to the fact that as more people carry weapons, the crime rate drops. This single fact negates the arguments about demographics and cultural differences, and debunks the flawed idea that reducing gun ownership or restricting gun bearing will reduce crime.
Doesn’t work. Never has, never will. Only good people obey the laws; criminals don’t, which means that criminals have guns where honest folks don’t.
Which brings us to the title of this little essay. What our legislators have created, in their efforts to establish ‘gun-free’ or ‘weapon-free’ zones, is a virtual vacuum. And just as with other vacuums, something is going to be drawn to fill it. In this case, what recent events show is that these ‘violence vacuums’ are going to be filled with the most horrific sort of deranged criminal violence imaginable. What has been done is to create an environment where the criminal can perpetrate any sort of criminal violence imaginable upon law-abiding people who are, by force of law, prohibited from defending themselves. This sort of environment may be expected to, and experience shows that it does, attract the worst sort of demented and deranged individuals known, and allow them free range of evil expression.
Nature may abhor a violence vacuum, but deranged criminals love them.
Ask yourself why so many of our politicians seem to love them too?
Any rational person would agree that one Aurora Colorado massacre or Oak Creek attack is one too many, yet our governments keeping pumping away. We have abundant evidence that laws against carrying weapons act to encourage the criminal, and yet, every time we get yet another bloody proof of this truth, some deranged politician wants to suck away more of our freedom in response, replacing our right to self defense with a violence vacuum which deliberately draws deranged criminals into it. Why? Why would any rational being want to deliberately create an environment which encourages such things to happen?
While you ponder this, I suggest that you let your representatives know that they ought not to think about trying to create any more Aurora massacres, and that you take a dim view of anyone who tries. Tell them that you do not want to be living in a violence vacuum. Only evil likes them, and only evil promotes them.