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Here we go again.  Last week I reported on the inefficacy of China’s strict gun control laws to prevent mass slayings of children in schools.  Unfortunately, that was not the end of this horrific spate of violence.  There have been two additional attacks, one with a hammer and another with a kitchen meat cleaver…

  • Shandong province, April 30, a man armed with a hammer and a can of gasoline attacked and injured five preschool children.  Teachers wrestled two children out of his arms as the assailant ignited the gasoline that he had poured over his head.
  • Shaanxi province, May 12, Wu Haunming, 48, used a kitchen meat cleaver [not shown] to butcher teachers and children at the Shengshui Temple Kindergarten, killing seven children and two teachers.  Eleven other children were hospitalized.  Wu was attempting to evict the school from the building he owned.  He committed suicide at his home following the attack.

I now count nineteen deaths in five incidents spanning less than two months.  That’s an average of 3.8 deaths per incident (a rate of 4.5 if you only count those involving blade weapons).  This further demonstrates that knives are more lethal than guns in assaults in confined places such as classrooms.  Shootings in American schools since 1966 have averaged 2.3 deaths per incident.

Gun control activists lose the debate when they confuse the tool with the motive.

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  1. I would challenge your methodology.

    If a guy shows up to kill his ex-wife at work, and work happens to be a school, that's a very different circumstance than what has happened in China recently. If a guy shoots a girl because she went to the prom with someone else, same thing. If a fired teacher shoots the principal, same thing. If a gang member brings a gun to settle a grudge at school, he's probably aiming at members of the rival gang.

    When comparing kill efficiency, I would disregard any school shooting that was obviously a dispute between individuals, or even gang members, because those shooters were not targeting everyone present.

    Look instead at Austin, Columbine, Va Tech or the Amish school massacres, where the attacker was clearly shooting indiscriminately.

  2. A fair point. I've scrubbed the list to include only those shootings that could be characterized as indiscriminate or rampage events.

    Sadly, most of what I excluded were on-campus suicides (that may or may not have been preceded by the offing of a hated school administrator or teacher). There were also a few fights that escalated into a shooting, a couple gang events (apparently most gang members are smart enough to conduct their business off-campus so they don't get caught), and a handful of incidents that could only been described as "hits" where someone entered campus and specifically sought out a student for the purpose of shooting him. I also excluded events such as last year's Harvard University shooting that occurred in a dorm that happened to be on school property rather than in the classroom environment.

    Finally, I excluded any event for which I could find no information and shooting where the shooter's intention was not manifest.

    This left 53 of the original 93 shootings in the population. As you predicted the fatality rate did go up, but not enough to change my conclusion. In 53 indiscriminate shooting at American schools in the last 44 years resulted in an average of 3.3 per incident.

    [note: edited for clarity and to elaborate]

  3. Let me add one additional thought. For all of the high-capacity handguns and assault rifles in America, there have only been three school shootings that have equaled or surpassed the number killed by this meat cleaver guy. I read several instances where assailants walked into schools with multiple guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition yet failed to kill anyone at all. In many other cases, the gunslinger killed only one or two.

    Why? Three reasons stand out.:

    1. Poor marksmanship. The shooter couldn't make up in quantity what he lacked in quality (so to speak). Many shots were fired, but few (if any) hit or inflicted life-threatening wounds.

    2. Heroic intervention. The sprees were cut short by teachers, administrators or other students that jumped the assailant once guns were brandished. I will note here that in close quarters it is much easier to disarm someone with shotgun or long rifle than a maniac with a Rambo knife (unless you have a gun and can shoot him from across the room).

    3. The shooter ran out of ammo.

  4. I'll add another thought, too. In the hands of a grown man, any weapon, even apparently a hammer, is going to be effective against a classroom of Chinese boys and girls, trained culturally and politically to defer to their elders. But when you are attacking people close to your own size and strength, the knife becomes much less overwhelming than the gun.

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