Gun Control at Work…

The Knox Report

From the Firearms Coalition


It’s the Guns Stupid…Right?


By Jeff Knox


(June 19, 2008) June 8 of this year was the anniversary of a horrible mass murder and on that day another attack, almost as deadly and just as senseless, took place.  On June 8, 2001 a deranged man walked into an elementary school and murdered 8 children and injured 15 other students and school staff members.  The more recent attack was aimed at random innocents enjoying a beautiful Sunday in a busy shopping district.

The murderer started his attack by driving into a crowd of shoppers and using his vehicle as a weapon, slamming into panicking pedestrians before leaping out and executing some of the injured.  Panicked shoppers tried to flee as the murderer rampaged through the crowds indiscriminately killing and maiming.  The final toll was 7 dead and 10 injured.

Unlike many such attacks during which the targets of the attack were trapped inside a relatively small space, this recent outrage took place in the open streets where there was plenty of room to run.  Still, that wasn’t enough to save the 17 victims. 

It’s not surprising that this most recent attack and the 2001 school murders both took place in “Gun Free Zones,” that seems to be the norm.  What is surprising is that these mass murders were not only committed in “Gun Free Zones,” they were committed in a theoretically “Gun Free” country:  Japan.  What’s more, the murderers in both incidents did not use guns, but rather knives. 

While supporters of strict gun control suggest that the death toll would have been higher had the attackers used guns, historical evidence does not support that position.  The fact is that the typical death toll for mass murderers is something less than 10, usually between 5 and 8.  While there have been occasional aberrations with deaths and injuries ranging much higher, the recent attack in Japan, like the 2001 attack that occurred on the same date, is statistically “typical.” 

In 2007 and the first half of 2008 there were a total of 13 mass murders widely reported in the US media.  This figure includes killing sprees in Serbia, Finland, Japan, Israel, and the US.  Of those 13 attacks, 12 resulted in fewer than 10 deaths with only the Virginia Tech tragedy exceeding nine deaths.  In one attack nine were killed.  Eight were killed in each of three attacks.  The Tokyo attack was the only one resulting in seven deaths.  Two incidents resulted in six deaths each.  The most common death toll was five, with that being the result in four different events.  And in one instance, two murders were committed late one night and the same murderer killed two more late the next morning accounting for a total of four deaths.

Firearms are definitely the favored weapon for rampage killers; although the 13 listed here include five who were beaten to death, at least two killed by a rental truck, and seven killed with knives.  Historically the deadliest mass murderers used explosives or flammables and when a murderer chose to use a firearm, the choice of firearm seems to have had little impact on his effectiveness.  This is particularly evident when the three attacks of the past 18 months involving AK-47 style rifles are compared.  In one incident, in Israel, a man armed with a full-auto AK-47 entered a school library and began shooting.  An adult student in a nearby classroom had a legal pistol and was able to shoot the attacker, ending the attack with eight lives lost.  In another incident, a man with a stolen, semi-auto AK-47S began shooting people in a shopping mall killing eight in the six minutes before police arrived, then turning the gun on himself.  The third incident involving an AK-47 style rifle was at a church in Colorado.  The murderer had used a pistol to kill two people at a mission center the night before and killed two more with a semi-auto AK that morning in the parking lot as he walked into a “mega-church” with thousands of worshipers inside.  A church member with a concealed carry permit put a stop to the murderer’s plans.

Rampage killers seem to stop their tirades for only one of four reasons:

1.      They run out of victims

2.      They run out of ammunition

3.      They run out of the will to kill or to live

4.      Someone forces them to stop, usually by shooting them

In every case, the quicker a good guy arrived on the scene with a gun, the quicker the murders stopped. 

The June 8 murders in Tokyo are just another reminder that murderous lunatics don’t need guns to wreak their havoc, and disarming the law-abiding only guarantees the murderer’s safety, not the public’s.


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©Copyright 2008 Neal Knox Associates