It has long been a curious detail that gun control proponents spend their time attacking “gun violence” rather than violence in general. Today's attack in Muenster, Germany gives lie to the claim that “gun violence” is the problem and that killing sprees are fueled by gun ownership and will end if we can only rid society of AR-15s or guns in general.
The Telegraph reports that an unknown driver killed three people and injured 26 people in a crowd of pedestrians in the German city. Early reports indicate that the driver was a 46-year-old German national with a history of mental illness. At this point, there are no known links to terrorist groups.
Using a vehicle as a weapon is not new. With strict gun control laws in place throughout Europe, there have been a number of ramming attacks in recent years. CNN reports that in 2010 Al Qaeda called trucks “the ultimate mowing machine” and encouraged recruits to use them “not to mow grass, but mow down the enemies of Allah.” In 2014, ISIS encouraged lone wolf attacks with alternative methods such as running people over with cars.
In 2016 and 2017, there were at least 10 vehicle attacks on civilians in Europe, Canada and the United States. The worst was the July 14, 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice, France in which 86 people were killed.
The wave of truck attacks is evidence that violence is not driven by the presence of guns, but by the evil present in the human heart. Solutions to the problem of violence that do not address this core truth will be doomed to failure. If guns are eliminated, evil people who wish to kill others will find other means of inflicting pain and death on their fellow humans.
But guns are uniquely capable of killing large numbers of people in a short time, gun control proponents argue. Mass killings by rogue vehicle drivers argue otherwise. So do mass killings by other means. Two men with “cleavers” killed 29 and injured 130 at a Chinese train station in 2014. A 2016 stabbing spree in Japan left 19 dead and 26 injured. Nigerian rioters killed more than 500 Christian villagers with machetes in 2010. In 1995, terrorists released the nerve agent, sarin, into the Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring 5,500. In Britain, stabbings have become so prevalent in the wake of gun control that knife control measures have been implemented.
The worst mass killing in a US school was not committed with guns and makes most mass shootings pale in comparison. In 1927, a school electrician blew up the school in Bath Township, Mich.. killing 44 people including 38 children.
So, why do activists single out “gun violence” in their protests? There are several likely reasons. The most obvious is that demonizing guns and trying to make them go away is the simple solution. But, as H.L. Mencken wrote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
A second reason is that it easier to attack guns than to address the underlying societal problems that drive people to commit murder. Murder has been with us since the earliest days of human history. The desire to kill is an innate part of human nature. Civilization and technology have not removed the desire to kill as much as they have made it easier to carry out murder efficiently and on a grander scale.
If activists want to stamp out violence and murder, they must override human nature. One way of doing this is by creating penalties to those who give in to violent urges. Society punishes these people with jail time or execution. For sociopaths who are compulsively driven to hurt and kill, the only solution may be to either kill them or keep them locked away for the rest of their lives.
Much of today's mass violence comes from people with who are willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill and injure others. In the majority of killing sprees, the attacker is among the dead, either by his own hand or by police bullets. The two primary motives for current mass killings seem to be Islamic radicalism or mental illness, both of which are characterized by perpetrators who have little or no regard for their own lives.
The problem of how to defend against such predators is a difficult one. One possibility is to attempt to change human nature. The one thing that can successfully change people, God, is being driven from the public square. Church attendance is down as religious believers are ridiculed and forced to leave their beliefs at home. As a result, many children receive no training in ethics and morality at all. Neither are they warned that a life of sin and violence could result in everlasting punishment beyond this world.
Instruction in ethics and morality that teaches the basic lesson that killing is wrong could be useful, but in today's world black-and-white morality has been replaced by shades of gray. Murder of unborn babies is socially acceptable, even encouraged by some. The right-to-die and euthanasia movements also cheapen life. In any case, such instruction may not overcome mental illness or contrary teachings that murder is a religious duty.
Where human nature cannot be changed, the best solution is to improve security. There is no single answer, but increased police presence, metal detectors and vehicle barriers around pedestrian areas are all partial answers. So is close monitoring of mentally ill people who are potentially violent. Involuntary commitment laws need to be revisited along with privacy laws. Allowing citizens the right to use guns for self-protection is also a piece to the puzzle.
The problem of Muslim extremism is even more difficult to address, particularly in a country that guarantees religious freedom. At the very least, security forces should monitor mosques for signs of extremist activity and track visits to known terrorist websites. Prospective immigrants should be closely screened to prevent extremists from entering the country.
With or without access to guns, human nature is unlikely to change for the positive without a religious awakening. Since our desire to murder is unlikely to go away, the best remaining alternatives are to increase security and self-defense measures. Where perpetrators of killing sprees can't be prevented from launching their attacks, they can at least be stopped with minimal loss of life.
[Photo: 2016 Berlin truck attack scene by Andreas Trojak from Deutschland - Möglicher-Terroranschlag-Berlin (27), CC BY 2.0,