Sunday, April 14, 2013

Guns And Knives

Senator John Cornyn has met with parents of the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Ct. and suggested that the main concern of one, Francine Wheeler, is been mental health.  Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday (transcript here), accordingly, asked (sort of) Cornyn "Senator, in that message, the only thing she mentioned was tougher gun control."  The Texas Republican responded

Well, in my meeting with the Sandy Hook families, they told me that -- and, of course, who wouldn't be -- who wouldn't have sympathy and empathy for these people who have suffered lost, but what they told me is they wanted to make sure their loved one did not die in vain, that something good would come out of this. And so, I think that's why I'm focused like a laser on the mental health component.

Questioned further, Cornyn added "I think the mental illness issue is the common element that we ought to be focused on. And I think we can do some good things."

John Cornyn has no idea what percentage of murderers are mentally ill. Nor does he know what role (if any) mental illness has played in murders committed in the U.S.A.- not in our history, nor in recent times, nor since the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage, nor in his own state.   He does, however, know- or should know- that there have been well over 3400 deaths by firearm since that incident on December 14, 2012.   And he might know

The gunman in the Connecticut shooting blasted his way into the elementary school and then sprayed the children with bullets, first from a distance and then at close range, hitting some of them as many as 11 times, as he fired a semiautomatic rifle loaded with ammunition designed for maximum damage, officials said Saturday.

The state’s chief medical examiner, H. Wayne Carver II, said all of the 20 children and 6 adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had been struck more than once in the fusillade.

Twenty-six people shot.  Twenty-six people dead.  That stands in stark contrast to last week's incident in which

An attack by a knife-wielding student on a college campus near Houston on Tuesday left 14 people wounded – two of them seriously – and rekindled fears of yet another brazen daytime assault on students.

But such mass stabbings are uncommon, criminologists and experts say.

Since 1901, there have been only seven mass stabbings in a public place in the USA where four or more victims were killed, said Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written about mass murders. Most mass killings are carried out with firearms, he said.

"Mass stabbings are exceptionally rare," Duwe said. "Guns, or explosives, are generally more effective at killing large numbers of victims."

No one died.  And on December 14 itself, twenty-two children were stabbed in an elementary school in mainland China.  No one died.

The victims in Guangshan and at Lone Star College may have been fortunate- but not very, for knife attacks are less deadly than firearm attacks.  Far less deadly.  Give a madman a knife and a lot of innocent people are wounded, with one or more fatalities possible.  Give a madman a gun and a lot of people die.

This shouldn't be too hard for Senator Cornyn, who represents the state in which last week's stabbing(s) took place, to understand.  Doubtless he does, but the mental health dodge is convenient, perhaps especially for a Senator from the Execution Capital of the Western World.

That has little or nothing to do with John Cornyn prostrating himself before the National Rifle Association.  But a gratuitous shot at the politics of the Lone Star State is too tempting to pass up.

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