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China’s Ministry of Public Security announced today that police have been given emergency shoot-to-kill authority in response to a series of deadly knife attacks at schools across the country. China has strict gun laws. These news reports should serve to dispel the myth that anti-gun advocates persist in perpetuating: the world would be free of hate and murderous violence if only we could rid ourselves of guns. For the rest of us, the Chinese attacks are a morbid reminder that an unarmed citizenry is a society of victims. Spanning little more than a month, China has been rocked by three gruesome knife attacks by adults on children in their schools . . .

  • Fujian province, March 23, Dr. Zheng Minsheng, 42, stabbed to death eight children and seriously wounded five others after being dumped by his girlfriend.
  • Guangdong province, April 28 (the very day that Zheng was executed for his crime), Chen Kanbing, 33,  a teacher who has been on sick leave for four years due to mental problems, knifed fifteen students and a teacher before jumping off a school building in a lame and unsuccessful attempt to kill himself.
  • Jiangsu province, April 29, Xu Yuyan, 47, attacked a pre-school class with an 8” knife.  He succeeded in wounding 28 of the kids, most of whom were only four years old, two teachers, and a security guard.

These attacks are eerily similar to a spree of school knife attacks in China in 2004 when at least 50 children and teachers were wounded or killed in three unrelated incidents.

In reporting these sad affairs, AFP scribe Dan Martin casually wrote some confounding statements that reveals his bias, typical of the narrative being fed to the public by many journalists.

Although crime rates in China have risen steadily since the country began its economic transformation three decades ago, such large-scale violent attacks remain rare.

Really?  Does he believe that capitalism causes crime?  Specifically, free market reforms drives people to pick up knives and begin slashing children? He must or he wouldn’t have linked them in this asinine sentence.

I can believe that crime in China is reported in the West more than it was thirty years ago. I could even believe that there is more crime after a totalitarian regime eases up on a repressed population. But these are social changes, not economic. These knife attacks took place in public institutions, not private enterprises. Two of the three assailants were public servants, not frustrated capitalists.

Extremely tight gun laws also prevent death tolls from reaching the levels seen occasionally in shooting attacks in some Western countries.

Another flawed presumption: a gun is always more lethal than a knife.

Police officers tell me that in close quarters, a knife is more dangerous than a gun. It is faster, easier to target, and never runs out of bullets. An assailant can inflict as many wounds on confined screaming four-year-olds as he pleases.

In these recent Chinese attacks, three assailants were able to inflict sixty casualties, including at least eight fatalities. That’s an average of 2.7 fatalities per incident. Fatalities in the 93 American school shootings that have occurred since August 1, 1966 (the University of Texas massacre), average 2.3 deaths per incident. That’s 0.4 less than the knife attacks.

I don’t expect that empowering China’s police to shoot-to-kill will make one iota of difference in forestalling these attacks. In none of these circumstances was a police officer in a position to shoot the knife-wielding assailants before they began their bloody rampages. Perhaps the third incident could have been cut short if the security guard who intervened could have shot Xu rather than becoming a victim himself.

A better solution: train and arm some of the faculty at each school so that they can protect the children entrusted into their care. But that would require arming civilians. And armed civilians might use weapons to defend themselves against a totalitarian regime, and the Chinese can’t have that. Suffer the little children.

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