See what I did there? I took Dennis A. Henigan’s comment about Norway’s gun laws out of context. But only just. Truth be told, the Scandanavian spree-killing has, wait for it, wrong-footed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. As in the Giffords’ atrocity in Arizona, the common sense reaction to Anders Breivik’s outrage is both simple and visceral: “if only someone had a gun to shoot the bastard before he shot all those kids.” How does a gun control org square that with Norway’s tough-as-they-wanna-be gun control regs? With difficulty. Here’s the full quote from Henigan’s Huffington Post huffing and puffing . . .

Norway has a restrictive gun licensing system, with a requirement that a prospective gun owner provide a written statement justifying why he or she wants one and stiff restrictions on how guns are stored. The fact that one gunman, driven by violent fanaticism, was able to get a gun to commit mass murder no more justifies weakening Norway’s gun laws than it justifies weakening its law against murder itself. No law is a guarantee against the evil it was passed to prevent. We can say with certainty that Norway, with its strong gun laws, is a far safer place than the U.S., with its weak gun laws and its permissiveness toward carrying guns in public.

I don’t think you need me to point out that drawing a parallel between life for Norway’s four million inhabitants and America’s 300 million is a fool’s errand. Or that Henigan is not fooling most of the people most of the time.

Anyway, if you want some serious stomach churning action (and who doesn’t?), check this from a Swede translated and republished by the wsj.com:

I understand the need to journey to the extremes in our language to describe this man. I myself have done that the past few days, in pure desperation. All of us have a need to clarify what the many hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the streets sought to demonstrate: The rest of us are not like him.

The rest of us are not like him. He is completely different than us.

We still must not forget this: Anders Breivik is actually one of us.

People are born with varying capacities for empathy, according to professionals, and this ability may be weakened or strengthened by experiences in childhood. I will never accept the thesis that there are people who are born evil. I will never accept the thesis that Anders Breivik was born evil. John Donne’s words apply to him as they apply to everyone else: No man is an island.

Anders Breivik is the sum of the life he has lived among us, the experience he has had with us and the thoughts he has thought as part of  Norwegian society. It is in our culture that this man has evolved from a shy and polite young boy into an ice-cold monster that allegedly spent nine years of his life to designing and implementing an attack against civilians.

Yes, well, as Ralph just told me, if someone points a gun at me I’m not going to take the time to ask him “Were you born evil or are you just an asshole?” As I said, common sense.

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45 Responses to Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: “No law is a guarantee against the evil it was passed to prevent”

  1. I don’t see what was stomach churning about that article, in fact the sentiment displayed in the article corresponds with what a lot of my Norwegian work contacts have been expressing over the past couple of days. Their society and mentality is so vastly different from ours, rather than go against their believes they are using this tragedy to strengthen their resolve in the ideas and laws they believe in. Simply put, they should defend their beliefs just as we defend ours. After the Gifford’s shooting in Arizona there have been plenty of anti-gun comment and the same is being made over there, but their government is adamant about not closing themselves off to the people and changing their laws to treat Breivik differently because of the scale of his attacks. That is commendable. If they believe that they should not carry firearms, then this attack shouldn’t change that belief.

    • “Simply put, they should defend their beliefs just as we defend ours.” Standing up for beliefs is not the same as standing up for truth or justice or fundamental human rights. For example, one can believe that the moon is made of green cheese, or that slavery is a good and perfectly acceptable thing, or that we should all acquiesce like good little sheeple and let the authorities take care of our every need and be the sole, authorized providers for our protection. None of the preceding examples are true or factual, the last two are neither just, nor do they advance human rights or dignity. People believe all kinds of crazy shit, often times to simply just make sense of the things around them that they don’t comprehend or don’t know how to cope with.

    • “they are using this tragedy to strengthen their resolve in the ideas and laws they believe in”

      It might be argued that they believe in wishful thinking or perhaps in ducking responsibility. How difficult would it have been for even a single armed policeman to be present at that island retreat?

      • “they are using this tragedy to strengthen their resolve in the ideas and laws they believe in”

        I think the phrase you are looking for Chaz is:

        “Doubling down on stupid.”

  2. We tend to argue safety by the murder rate primarily because we value life over property but there are other violent crimes that are costly to society as well. Looking at the total crime rate Oslo is four times more dangerous then New York city. It is those other crimes that lead to the dissolution of social cohesion. The inner cities aren’t wastelands because the murder rate is high. They are wastelands because crime destroyed small businesses and drove people off the streets. The murder rate rose because the gang bangers own the streets

    • They are wastelands because crime destroyed small businesses and drove people off the streets.

      Come visit Reading, PA to see that happening in real time.

        • It was amazing to watch, no? Then, after completely destroying one neighborhood, the blight would move further south. I grew up near 175th and Kedzie. Apparently, I’m told, pizza joints won’t deliver into my old neighborhood anymore.

        • I lived on Hazel Lane in the Highlands in the sixties and seventies and went to Hillcrest HS. Apparently, Bill Clinton made an anti-gang speech there because things are so bad there now. Sadly, you would not recognize the place…

  3. Having been to Norway on numerous occasions in the 1970s and 1980s (my relatives live there) I tend to agree that it is a lot safer than the U.S. The U.S. has pockets of very safe areas and pockets of very dangerous areas, and everything in between. I have not traveled extensively through Oslo so I have no idea how safe it is there. But overall my observation was that Norway is really safe (as an added bonus, I also recall that it had a lot of hot blonde chicks with hedonistic tendencies!). But I think the “safety factor” has more to do with the fact that Norway has a homogeneous population and very little obvious poverty, than it has to do with a lack of access to guns. Switzerland is my control for this hypothesis. Like Norway, it has a homogeneous population, strict immigration policies, and little poverty. Unlike Norway, there are tons of guns in Switzerland.

    • I can agree to the validity of that theory. But your use of Switzerland as a control for homogeneity is puzzling. You probably couldn’t have picked a more prominent example of a fractured nation when it comes to the relative nationalism of its disparate German, Italian, and French peoples, and Switzerland’s four official languages. If anything, you picked a country without a specific cultural nationality of its own. Instead, it’s a country (that works!) which is made of at least four strong, culturally competing, regions.

      • I just wikipedia’d it after posting and came accross a pretty suprising tidbit of info:

        “Resident foreigners and temporary foreign workers make up about 22% of the population,” according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.

        • By using the term “homogeneous,” it was thinking of it more in terms of racial, tribal and/or religious terms. From my travels it just seems to me that all of the really dangerous places have two common commonalities: (1) poverty, (2) two or groups of folks that just can’t seem to assimilate very well with each other. Legal availability of guns for the civilian population never seems to be a commonality between safe and unsafe places.

    • It’s no longer the 1970s. Oslo is not a safe city especially if you are a woman without a headscarf.

    • I don’t know about the article but the photo of “the guy”, all dolled up in his pseudo nazi uniform, with all of the spinach and regalia, sure makes my stomach churn. He’s an evil, narcissistic nut case.

  4. The higher order is not legal and illegal, but right and wrong. No law passed to impact particular objects has any effect on evil intentions; evil is deterred by strength and vigilance alone!

  5. I agree with the Swede’s main point of people not being born evil. But that’s not to say that they can’t condition themselves to evil acts by living in an echo chamber of hate and violence. Plus, some people actually are born to be more prone to violence. There are a few psychological disorders which can make violence easier for a person.

    As humans we have a strong mental barrier against hurting another person without cause (and sometimes even with cause). This goes doubly when the person we are hurting is a child or elderly as we are socialized to view them as “protected” classes. Whatever this guy did in the years leading up to this massacre broke down those barriers so effectively that he was able to walk around killing young people. What an A-Hole.

    • Except that’s not a dressed-up Nazi uniform he’s wearing. Those are U.S. Marine Corps dress blues that he’s soiled by wearing and perverted with all that ridiculousness.

  6. Each nation will follow its own fundamental beliefs. Norway is different than the USA. The manner in which a nation was formed has effected its belief system. As a result we Americans have the individual right to keep and and bear arms so that our elected government cannot over rule us and we can effect change either through the ballot box or through the threat of taking back our government from unconstitutional officials.

    The police response to the shootings on the island took around 90 minutes. Once again proving the adage: When seconds count the police are only minutes away. Was this their Keystone Cops moment? Every adult is responsible for their own protection and the protection of those children and elders for which they are responsible. People need to be able to protect themselves, with weapons, including firearms, if they are in the United States or in Norway or any other nation until the police finally arrive.

  7. “No law is a guarantee against the evil it was passed to prevent.”
    Sounds like a good arguement against gun control and pro concealed carry
    As a 61 year old grandfather of 3 ages 14, 10 and 1+ years who has taken the older kids to potentionaly “target rich enviorments” – soccer, baseball and softball practices and games for years in San Diego County,CA where CCW is generally denied.
    I am always scanning for possible threats and hoping I don’t have to catch a bullet waiting minutes for help to arrive if some deranged SOB shows up.
    Haven’t read anything lately about some deranged SOB starting a gun fight at a shooting event, it always is the defenseless “sheeple”
    Over the years during conversations with anti gun people I have asked them “If somebody shows right now and starts shooting what are you going to do” .
    Generally the response is “I don’t know”and “What will you do”. “Grab you and hold you in front of me and hope I don’t get hit before they run out of ammo
    If I am lucky I get to stab them to death with a pocket knife before they reload”
    NO MORE – Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6

  8. I once had a lady friend who claimed that all children were born perfect. That’s the biggest crock of wishful thinking I ever heard. The fact is, Ted Bundy was born to be Ted Bundy. Another child is born to be Albert Schweitzer. Yet another is born to be Anders Behring Breivik. Al Capone was born to be a mobster. His brother James was born to be a law enforcement officer.

    The nature versus nurture argument begs the real question, which is “in the final analysis, who the f^ck cares?” As I told RF this afternoon, if somebody points a weapon at me or mine intending to do harm, I’m not going to delve into his toilet training or whether or not his mommy loved him. I’m not going to ask him whether he was born bad or is just an asshole. I’m just going to shoot the sonofabitch.

    No more Scandanavian navel-gazing bullsh!t, please. Stomach churning doesn’t adequately describe what I feel about the poor two-legged sheep grazing near Norway’s fiords.

    • So you believe in predestination, then? That no one has any control over what they do? That free will is, well, “wishful thinking?”

      Regarding your second sentence, I think you’re missing the point of the article. It’s not saying we should give a free pass to people because of their perhaps sad history; it’s just saying we should try to change the current political climate/culture to be less hate-filled and likely to motivate mass murder. That’s what I got out of it, anyway.

      • OFF TOPIC: There is a movement among both religious scholars and athiests to assassinate the very idea of “free will.” Free will is difficult to reconcile with mainstream religious beliefs (things happen because of the “will of God” or “the devil’s influence.”) and altogether impossible to reconcile with athiest beliefs (we are no more than the sum of our genetics, personal experiences, and environment; and, therefore, what decisions we make in life are already predetermined based on those variables).

        I’m still mulling over the merits of this hypothesis …

        • I’m an atheist and I have no problem at all with the concept of free will. I think the scholar’s engaged in that bit of naval gazing are wasting their time and their intellects.

          Then again, according to them it’s just a combination of genetics and environment making me say that.

        • Is “naval gazing” connected in some way to that U.S. Marine Corps dress blue uniform?

        • Yeah, I’m an atheist too, and I believe in free will. Yes, we’re shaped by both nature and nurture, but the future is uncertain — and, thus, can be shaped however we want.

      • total fail …

        this guy was motivated by what he would describe as the rush to diversity … his anger had nothing to do with rehtoric and everything to do with diversity on steriods …

      • I don’t believe in predestination, but it’s obvious that most, perhaps all, sociopaths display all the symptoms by age two. That strongly implies that they’re indeed “born that way”.

      • Not sure it’s predestination as Ralph’s friend suggests. disagreeing with Eric S: it certainly appears some people *are* born miswired (you can call it ‘evil’ if you want), and no amount of normal parenting or societal influence will fix that, at least not without intensive counseling and/or pharmaceuticals.

  9. I have to laugh because I am not the only one who thinks this guy is the German Tank Commander from Kelly’s Heroes.

    Wolf ! Wolf!

  10. @joe grine,

    My understanding is that Norway has tons of guns too. They have licensing, but lots of licensed guns and owners. Just few handguns and essentially no public carry. Like NJ or some of the other NE states.

  11. Seems to be a lot of folks with the opinion that if the gun laws in Norway were less stringent, this particular tragedy could have been avoided or at least minimized. Not this one, I’m afraid. It took place at a youth meeting of the ruling party, which wholeheartedly endorses the “guns have no place in a civilized country” meme. Even if Norway’s laws were comparable to a US CCW state, I doubt there would have been a firearm to be seen except for maybe some politco’s bodyguard.

  12. “Anders Breivik is the sum of the life he has lived among us, the experience he has had with us and the thoughts he has thought as part of Norwegian society.”

    How about the other millions of Norwegians that grew up the same way and don’t kill 80 people for sport?

    ‘Splain that Lucy.

    • I don’t think he killed them “for sport”… in fact, I don’t think anyone who has been paying attention to his history over the last several years would think that.

      He killed them for a very specific purpose, which he apparently believes justifies what he did, just as any soldier justifies killing the enemy.

  13. The fact that one gunman, driven by violent fanaticism, was able to get a gun to commit mass murder no more justifies weakening Norway’s gun laws than it justifies weakening its law against murder itself.

    Hmm… so, murder is illegal, but people do it anyway. WTF are the gun laws for, then? Who will have guns? Oh, right – the people who are willing to ignore the law… laws like “Don’t murder people.”

    It’s so amazing to me that he has the obvious building blocks, but he just can’t assemble them into anything actually useful.

  14. Whatever happened to bravery and the Heroes of Telemark? Has Norway turned into Quisling-ville? From Wikipoodle – “the young Quisling was “shy and quiet but also loyal and helpful, always friendly, occasionally breaking into a warm smile”…

  15. All I know is there are a whole bunch of places, both in the USA and world-wide where he would have got his hiney kicked for wearin’ that jacket. Further even at this late date my mind is boggled by the fact that it took the Norwegian cops 90 minutes to get there with firearms. Even today, nearly twenty years since my old Dept. put me out to pasture I could still wake up, arm myself and get anywhere in my county in that amout of time. And that’s with no lights or siren on my asexual grandpa-mobile.

  16. Sincere condolence extended to the families and friends of all of those involved.
    Best wishes for quick and complete recoveries for the wounded.
    Gw.

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