dimanche 16 décembre 2012

Looking the Wrong Way for Safety?

Airplanes are the safest transport, they say, only responsible for 3% of the famous greenhouse gas emissions. And nuclear power is safe, because it gives no greeenhouse gas emissions at all.

But it was an airplane and not carbon dioxide that killed people on the day of Twin Towers. It was plutonium and not carbon dioxide that killed Mr. Litvinenko.

Are airplanes really that safe? Is nuclear power really that safe? Well, then are guns too, despite Adam Lanza.

People say guns should be banned due to concerns about people like Adam Lanza - well if so, why not ban airplanes due to concerns about whoever flew one into the Twin Towers, why not ban nuclear fuel due to concerns about whoever put some in Mr Litvinenko's tea cup?

When it comes to cars and tobacco, we are told of "proportions" - like tobacco killing many more than cars. Problem is, when we hear "tobacco killed" that is an assessment about one contribuent to a cancer. When we hear "a car killed", that definately is a fact, not just an assessment. The air plane 11th of September 2001 killed more than the gun of Adam Lanza. And when it comes to assessments, it is pretty much a safer one that the Tchernobyl meltdown in 1986 killed more than Adam Lanza, than that tobacco kills more than cars. It is also a pretty safe assessment that the Tchernobyl area was more carcinogenous that year than a room filled with tobacco smoke - bad though it is to smoke inside, unless you open a window.

Well, greenhouse effect is looking the wrong way, when it comes to environmentalism. The climate can be warmer and we be better off - as was the case in the Middle Ages. And banning guns and tobacco, don't rely on me to say that that is looking the righ way.

When it comes to either Twin Towers or people like Lanza, one can ask oneself whether presence of the means of killing or presence of an unhappiness that - even if wrongfully - was taken as a provocation to the killing was the worst mistake even in mere prudential thinking.

Banning divorce (Adam had in 2009 seen his parents divorce), banning interest taking (some of Muslim and Third World grievances are tied to interest on interest making for debt traps), banning school compulsion (Adam was out of school already, but most other perpetrators were in high school since 1999, unless I misremember) might be good steps toward a safer world.

I am not sure that banning guns would be too. But if so, then would the banning of airplanes and nuclear power be so too. One could argue that transport and power - and maybe self defense too - might need less technological sophistication for being safe. Well, a sword is less sophisticated than a gun. But try walking around with a sword today? Yes, it is too flashy for modern authorities. Policemen with guns will soon take it from owner if he walks with it in a scabbard. If self defense is to be a real option, either keep guns or make swords legal.

"But we can't keep guns with people like Adam Lanza ..."

Most Latinists do not go on killing sprees. Most geeks do not. Most gun owners do not. And in each of these cases "most" means overwhelming majority. Gilbert Keith Chesterton said something about not treating the state as a sort of emergency fire fighter, making new laws or regulations each time something goes wrong. We have to live in the state with its laws even when those particular things are not what goes wrong.

And with Adam Lanza as with Breivik, the problem is not just that they had a gun. But also that none of their victims had one or even had any option in their environment of getting one. A shot in such a man's leg, or arm (the one holding the gun) could have saved many lives in either case without withdrawing the perpetrator from human justice. But the aggressed parties had no means of doing so.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Gaudete Sunday
16 - XII - 2012

PS, I wonder if the inquest about Adam Lanza will show his mother (one of victims and the gun owner) was with the school psychologist (other of his victims) planning to "give him some help" about his psychological situation and he found out and did not "appreciate" it?

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