01 March 2014
Maybe the NRA is right after all
Gruesome news from China: in an apparent terrorist attack, blamed by the government on Muslim separatists from the country's southwest, a gang of men attacked a train station and killed 33 people, according to the latest report, while wounding more than 100 more. The remarkable aspect of this particular atrocity is that the killers all used knives. It appears to confirm the argument often made by gun-rights advocates that getting rid of guns won't guarantee anyone's safety, since vicious or crazy people will find other effective means to kill or hurt people. It definitely proves what motivated people can do with sharp objects. It also reconfirms, following waves of knife attacks on kindergartens and other public places in recent years, that some people are really, really pissed off by conditions in China. Since China apparently has effective gun control, the government can skip debating over whether gun ownership makes such incidents more likely. The real question they face is deciding whether to dismiss each case as the act of a hopeless malcontent or to deduce that something is wrong with they way the country is going. They may decide that these killings are an inescapable collateral cost of some necessary socio-economic development, much as many Americans accept gun violence as an unavoidable risk of free society. One thing seems certain: regrettable as the absence from China of a truly free "civil society" may be, it does mean that the country will be spared the propaganda of a Knives Rights Association. Meanwhile, this tragedy may have a silver lining if it convinces reactionary Americans that even should our government take their guns away, they still have a fighting chance to make a difference through empty gestures that only hurt innocent people.