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.