Like most Americans, I was saddened to read about the senseless slaughter of innocent students and teachers in Florida recently. And like everyone else, I wished there was an easy solution. I find it disheartening however to witness the frenzy staged by journalists, media personalities, entertainers and academia all professing that gun control is the answer. Their war on firearms is their universal scapegoat to mask the failures of the type of divisive society they helped create.
The opinionators paraded ad nauseam on talk shows and in Congress are trying to sell the public on the idea that they have the magic elixir that will stop the violence that plagues our nation. All the gullible public has to do is give up some of their constitutional rights and “Big Brother” will protect the dutiful voters from cradle-to-grave. Do they really think we are that stupid?
Out of curiosity, I searched the Internet to seek information on the worst serial killers and massacres. My findings include:
1) Karl Denke killed between 30 and 70 in Germany early in the 20th century. His weapon of choice was an ax, which he used before cannibalizing his victims.
2) At the same time in Germany, Fritz Haumann killed up to 51 young boys by biting their throats.
3) Recently, in Egypt, between 32 and 51 young children were raped and tortured aboard trains by a serial killer, then tossed overboard to slowly die in agony beside the rails.
Of course America has produced its own crop of sadistic serial killers whose identities are well known thanks to the national media. Many victims die from strangulation, torture, stabbing, and other grisly fates. Guns are rarely used by serial killers, much to the chagrin of the gun-control crowd.
Massacres grab the headlines, with firearms mentioned wherever possible. So what are the worst mass killings that have taken place around the world? Referencing a list from Wikipedia, I found the following of noteworthy interest:
1) The worst school massacre took place in Michigan in 1927 — 45 killed and 58 injured, mostly children. The weapons used by Andrew Phillip Kehoe weren’t firearms but dynamite and bombs containing shrapnel.
2) The worst religious, political or racial massacre occurred in Nice, France, in 2016 when a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd, killing 86 and injuring 458.
3) In Indonesia in 1987 a farmer named Wirjo killed 20 and wounded 12 with a sickle.
4) In the Ukraine in 2007 Victor Sayenko and a friend killed 21 and wounded seven during a rampage using a hammer to crush the skulls of their victims.
5) In Japan in 1938 Mutsuo Toi used a sword and an ax to murder 30 and injure three.
6) Most mass murders that have occurred in Africa involve soldiers slaughtering civilians with machetes and rifles; however, in Kenya in 1929 a tribesman named Mogo killed 12 villagers with a spear.
7) The worst mass murder in the Americas wasn’t the recent Las Vegas shooting; it was the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville attack on the United States by Islamic terrorists using aircraft as weapons. The second worst was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, killing 168 and injuring 850 by exploding a 4,800-pound homemade bomb.
Notice that some of the worst mass murders that took place did not involve firearms but other handy weapons when guns were not readily available.
History notes that the worst serial killers of all time turn out to be communist dictators who are often idolized by the same people seeking gun control. Mao Zedong in China, Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Kim Jong-Il in N. Korea, to name a few who make the previous list of freelance murderers look like amateurs by comparison. And their weapon of choice for killing their own people by the tens of millions: starvation. Another infamous mass murderer, Adolf Hitler, ordered the death of millions using gas chambers and starvation as weapons for the purpose of ethnic cleansing. These dictators committed their atrocities without guilt or remorse because of the grandiose images they had of themselves.
What these statistics and facts should tell you is that banning or restricting firearms won’t do anything to solve the problem of serial killers and massacres. A person suffering from mental illness and refusing professional help or to stay on medications, adverse reactions to drug treatment, intense hatred, anger or delusion, financial distress or a personal tragedy, social rejection, or the dangerous side-effects of mind-altering recreational drugs only need a single event, a trigger, to unleash pent-up rage using any weapon at hand, as the tragic examples I just described have shown.
The answer isn’t found in passing legislation that endangers good people. The rampant gun violence in “gun-controlled” Chicago is proof of that. The first step that should be taken to deal with this crisis is to accept the fact that gun control will not change anything except perhaps reduce the number of casualties in specific cases. But even one dead student is one too many. It is time to remove the stigma of mental illness and provide the means and resources to educate the public. Recognizing the warning signs — be it social postings, ominous conversations, anti-social behavior, etc. — isn’t enough. People must act when these actions are observed, not just wish and hope nothing happens.
John Merlette is a resident of Bigfork.