Sandy Hook vs. Chengping: two school attacks in stark contrast

At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, 27 people – 20 of them kindergarteners – are dead at the hands of a gunman armed with a Glock and a Sig Sauer.

Meanwhile, a madman ran amok in a school in Henan province, China today, as well.

A knife-wielding man injured 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in central China as students were arriving for classes Friday, police said, the latest in a series of periodic rampage attacks at Chinese schools and kindergartens.

The attack in the Henan province village of Chengping happened shortly before 8 a.m., said a police officer from Guangshan county, where the village is located.

A doctor at Guangshan’s hospital of traditional Chinese medicine said that seven students had been admitted, but that none were seriously injured.

In one you find words like “guns” and “killed.” In the other, these words are replaced with “knife” and “injured.”


60 replies »

  1. Yet in both cases you find people behind the weapons….unless you’re in a cartoon weapons don’t have a life of their own.

  2. So? Presumably, there would be people behind a future nuclear attack, too. I don’t think that means it’s OK to allow people to buy nukes at the local Wal-Mart.

  3. Nuclear weapons have a single purpose, to decimate and kill on a large scale. Guns have a variety of uses including: hunting, recreation, self-defense, etc. Its a moronic comparison. Try comparing drunk-driving deaths and gun murders. The former is more common. Should we ban cars? Alcohol?

    • Hunting – killing animals. Self-defense – hurting or killing someone before they can kill you.

    • This is sophistry at its worst. Please. I understand the arguments against gun control and have even argued against gun control, but silly bullshit like this doesn’t advance the argument. 20 children are dead, you fucking moron.

      • It’s also worth noting the effort being spent to sidestep the actual post here. There’s a point in there, and I didn’t really bury it that deep, did I?

        • It is my belief that a coordinated effort must be made to reduce such senseless events. Not only is access to deadly weapons an issue, but access to mental health professionals, insurance and the stigma of mental illness all play a roll. Finally, we see China as a country that puts incredible pressure to perform and conform on its citizens. As a mother of two young men educated in our public school system, I can tell you that we have yet to find a solution to the tragically narrow sphere of life we expect our youngsters to function in. What do attacks such as this say about our public schools? Couple that with the growing number of work hours and sacrifices we have to make in our unbalanced profit- driven economy to just keep our heads above water and you have an inkling of the enormity of this problem. And I can guarantee you that few, if any, education administrators will consider the school environment as part of a larger systemic disease.

    • Guns are designed to kill. Period. They are used for target practice, I suppose, but that is not their design nor their intent. It is moronic to pretend otherwise.

    • I think you should examine that word “moronic” a little more closely. Your national obsession with firearms verges on the sociopathic, if not psychopathic and outside your borders we all see it. Nuclear weapons? Just transpose the arguments a moment: of COURSE Iran and Botswana and N Korea and Indonesia and Rwanda should own these weapons, after all, weapons in themselves never do any harm, just the people who wield them. And nuclear weapons have multiple purposes, deterrence and defence being prime among them. I think you are talking here without a safety net…

  4. John: Reductio ad absurdum is a time-honored, and very useful, argumentative technique. No one knows how old it is, but it shows up in Aristotle’s “Prior Analytics,” so that means it’s at least as old as classical antiquity. What can make it so useful is its ability to take a statement and carry it to its extremes to see if it stands up under that extreme. If it doesn’t, then the statement must, at least in some cases, be absurd. For instance, this statement: “Every time tax rates drop, taxes increase,” can be tested using reductio ad absurdum and this useful counter-statement: “So, if tax rates drop to zero, taxes will increase.” What so very USEFUL about this technique is that the original statement can then be examined and modified. Clearly, it cannot be mathematically true that when tax rates drop to zero, taxes will increase. Therefore, if tax revenues have increased in the past when tax rates dropped, giving us evidence that such a thing does happen some of the time, when will we reach a point where tax revenues no longer increase. And is is thus that the Laffer Curve is born.

    Unfortunately, it has become nearly impossible to use the technique effectively because education, and I would say especially education in the US, has become so poor. I was taught the technique in my middle school years.

    In this particular case, the argument you failed to follow went something like this.

    Someone suggests that there are “people behind the weapons,” implying that it is people and not the weapons that are the issue here. I would absolutely agree that the weapons cannot be at fault. How could they be? Yet, the implication that the only issue is the person seemed wrong to me, so I subjected it to reductio ad absurdum. In other words, if it is only the person that matters, and weapons don’t matter, then why not sell nukes at Wal-Mart? Since this is an absurdity — and since it is clearly unwise to allow some weapons into the hands of everyone — the issue them becomes, “What weapons should we allow people to have, and perhaps under what circumstances should they be allowed to have them?”

    Reasonable people can have a great and enlightening discussion around such a thing, but unreasonable people see a reductio ad absurdum argument and immediately say, “Nuh-uhhhhhh!” Or, in your case, “Its (sic) a moronic comparison.”

    Your drunk driving and car analogy hardly applies. There are many, many things that can be lethal in this world if used carelessly or improperly. Most of these things are not designed, as a primary purpose, to kill, as most of them cannot be classified as “weapons.” Weapons can be used for other purposes, but their primary purpose is to kill and/or maim. It might also be useful to point out that improper use of a motor vehicle that results in death or maiming often results in a felony conviction and/or civil liability. Improper, even careless, use of a gun often results in neither.

    So, the question remains, if nukes are too much weapon to allow people to have, where do we draw the line? TOW missiles? Well, we could be invaded and common citizens might need them for self-defense. Grenade launchers? Clearly, if a neighbor is angry at you, punching a grenade through his window might head him off before he shows up on your doorstep with his own gun. And I think I could have a lot of fun with both of those things at a target range, so they clearly have other uses than killing.

  5. Ahm, otherwise? These comments don’t always thread in order, so to avoid misunderstanding, it might be a good thing to reference the person to whom you’re directing your comments? 😉

  6. I will have more to say about this when I am capable of being even somewhat rational about it. But right now it’s taking a great deal of self-control to not rhetorically rip leasartwork and John several new orifices.

    Come back in a week or so when my anger has turned from the blast furnace it is today to the coldest, blackest ice it will become and then say those same things again in my future posts on handgun control and school violence. Please.

    • Brian, please feel free to ‘rip leasartwork’ a new whatever you want. I simply responded as I see the issue. I am a female, hunter, artist, poet, and lifetime NRA member….obviously not your normal combination. However, while Scholars and Rogues states, “Think, it ain’t illegal yet” it really should read, ‘Think like we do, it ain’t illegal yet. Otherwise, don’t bother.” I really won’t take the time to post to this blog ever again.

      • The problem is that you referenced one of the most brainless statements that anyone, on any side of this issue, can ever say: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Sure, that’s true. But it also misses about 90% of the real argument over the reason for guns, who should have a right to own them, how accessible they are, background checks, and all the cultural factors that go into making the US a gun-happy country.

        It also ignores massive amounts of data that I’m slowly working my way through. And that data indicates that this problem is nowhere near as simple as someone who mindlessly repeats tropes from her life in the NRA would like to believe.

        If you want to bow out, fine. But don’t blame us for your unwillingness to open your mind on this, or any other, issue.

        • Brainless, mindless, unwilling, [close minded]….You just made my point regarding S&R’s mantra for me Brian. Thanks.

        • You don’t know me yet because I stated I am a (starting in 2008) lifetime NRA member you assume my opinions come from that organization (mindlessly repeating tropes from her life in the NRA). my final comment to you is simply….Ad hominem.

        • I’ll grant you the ad hominem, and the fact I was making assumptions. Clearly I interpreted “lifetime NRA member” as having been in the NRA most of your life, not as the name of a particular membership status. Fair enough.

          The data I’m talking about is at the links above in my comments below the handgun photo. It’s international data, not national – that’s my next set of analyses – but it’s turned out to be quite fascinating. And the international data doesn’t support either the “guns are evil” or the “guns reduce crime” arguments. I’m very much looking forward to analyzing the national data and reporting on what I find. If it’s like most of the analyses like this I’ve done over the years, it’ll be messy, and it’ll demonstrate that there’s a kernel of truth in both sides, but that conventional wisdom has it mostly wrong.

          Sam is not the only admin on this site, BTW, so he doesn’t get to ban anyone without discussing it among the admins first.

  7. I blogged about this before, and if America were more like China, then if nobody owned a gun, the self-defense argument (the only meaningful anti-gun control justification) would be obsolete. Set aside the ridiculous anti-gun control movement of the US and it’s fair to say that America’s exaltation of gun ownership is responsible for the deaths of the schoolchildren. It still remains that there will always madmen on the search to cause havoc, but it’s the state responsibility to build a barrier of protection between one individual’s messed-up intentions and the effect he/she has upon innocent others. Isn’t this what law was designed for?
    And how ironic: with all the controversy about how Chinese rule of law is flawed, in this case, America has it wrong and China has it right.

  8. Those using this tragedy to further the moronic stance that taking away law abiding citizens guns is pathetic. Schools are gun free zones which make them primary targets for lunatics. If several teachers had been armed perhaps the numbers would be lower. In Israel teachers are trained and carry concealed weapns in their schools to prevent horrific situations like this. More deaths occur in states with the most restrictive gun laws. Please enlighten me why this is? More guns would translate into less deaths. Wake up libs you are wrong and are sheep.

    • Riiiight, because having a kindergarten teacher packing around little kids with curious fingers is such a good idea.

      You know, I used to be hard-core anti-gun. I’m not any more. I understand now that there times and places and situations where guns are reasonable. But that doesn’t mean I like them, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I think it’s safer for kids to have tens of thousands of teachers carrying. Maybe there would have been 10 dead kids this time instead of 20, but if we’re going to treat lives so cavalierly, then let’s trade those 10 extra deaths against the dozens we’d have scattered around the country from accidental discharges from packing teachers.

      As for your claims about the number of gun deaths in states with restrictive gun laws, please provide me unbiased proof of that. You know, from places like the Census Bureau and the FBI, not sources like the NRA. Because I’d really like to see it, and if you have some it’ll save me some time hunting for it myself for upcoming blogs on this subject.

    • And more taxes would translate into less debt. What’s your point? In this case, the guns were owned by a law abiding citizen, who’s dead.

      Also, you should offer some sort of proof of your claim rather than assuming that all of us being armed all of the time will magically translate into less gun violence. Not that i’ll stoop to calling you a sheep for parroting something you’ve heard without offering proof.

    • I like your sophisticated techniques of reasoning: “moronic stance”, “pathetic”, “gun free zones” and then you appeal to the example of that pacific, gentle, neighbour-loving nation Israel. And of course the big lie, “more deaths occur….”. You aren´t the problem there are idiots in every nation. The problem is many of your legislators think like you – to say nothing of USA filmmakers who export this poisonous nonsense to all parts of the globe. God help us all. And I´m an atheist…

  9. ‘Samuel’.please do what you’ve wanted to do all along. Please rather than waiting to pounce on me just block me the way you did on FB.

  10. Brian, my request to be blocked still stands as I will undoubtedly have differing opinions at times and don’t wish to subject myself to public castigation for those views. Because I am a passionate person I know I will end up doing this same thing and cause myself undue stress. I’d prefer to be muted/censored than get involved in pointless parrying. 🙂

    • I’m sorry, leasartwork, but I don’t feel its our job to protect you from being offended. There are ways to ensure that our blog doesn’t show up in your email (unsubscribe to comments on this post, for example), and as a wordpress user yourself, you have all sorts of tools that you can use to turn off our feed to you.

      You have the freedom to simply walk away. It’s not our job to make you leave.

  11. Brian, I’m not offended. I’m disappointed. There is a significant difference. I don’t ‘follow’ S&R just drop by periodically because of my husband’s association with the blog. I’ll discuss with him. Thanks.

  12. I don’t understand why anyone would join the NRA. I own guns, and every one has come with one of those little “join the NRA” cards … you’ll get a window sticker! Maybe it’s just me, but i have about as much respect for NRA members as i do for card-carrying Communists. (or Republicans and Democrats for that matter)

  13. Wow! Judging people based on their membership in various organizations rather than getting to know people. Now THAT is open-minded! Good thing I don’t need or desire your respect, Lex.

    • Who said i am, or strive to be, open-minded? And why do you assume that my comment was pointed at you?

  14. I’m with you, Lex. I own a number of guns, including an assault rifle, and used to be a member of the NRA when I was a kid. I wouldn’t think about joining them now. Why would I want to rub elbows with a bunch of people who think it’s a good idea to put semi-automatic firearms with enormous, quickly changeable magazines in the hands of maniacs who shoot 6 and 7-year-old children? My sense of NRA members, including the adults I knew when I was a member, are that they are, at the core, cowards. They walk around in so much fear of the improbable that they must have firearms available to them at all times.

  15. If you take away guns you don’t take away mentally disturbed or violent people. Bad people will do bad things any way they can. You can make a deadly poison or bomb with items found in your home. In a utopia we would never have a use for guns or any weapons. I would love to live in that world. But its time for people to wake up to reality. Let’s all really think about how people killed other people before guns and how they killed their food to survive before guns. Any weapon in the wrong hands is deadly.

  16. M: This argument has already been made and refuted on these threads. It’s also a common argument that has been made and refuted successfully for many years in many fora. I won’t bother to make the same argument again, because if you haven’t read it already, you’re not listening. Instead, let me issue a challenge. We’ll meet in an open field somewhere. I get a fully automatic AK-47 or more modern derivative with 10 extra, fully-loaded clips. You get a spear with a stone point. Each of us makes out a will, leaving everything we have to the other upon our deaths. Winner takes all.

    Seems fair, right? I mean, all weapons have equal destructive power, right? So, when and where do we meet?

    • Wow. This is exactly why I avoid forums, blogs, comments, political discussions as well as religious ones. I should of left this page without commenting. I guess its my fault for stating my opinion in a free country. It can’t just be my opinion. Someone has to prove me wrong. I’ve only ever met one person who would listen to my views and I his with the utmost respect to each other. We could discuss these things for hours without attacking the other. Thank you for proving me right that people cannot be trusted to just listen and give an opinion without an attack. Don’t bother responding. I won’t be here to read it.

      • Not all opinions are created equal, M. Opinions based on logic are better than illogical ones. Informed opinions are better than uninformed ones. And informed opinions supported by logic, fact, and verifiable reality are the best of all.

        And if you didn’t want to have your opinion’s challenged, why did you even bother commenting? If you can’t handle having your preconceptions challenged, then S&R is not the place for you. The posters here enjoy debating each other and other commenters in the comment threads, because everyone learns something new in the process. And we value that greatly.

  17. You need to read up on what the founders had in mind when they established this “free country.” You’re free to state your opinion. AND YOU DID. Others are then free to respond according to the facts as they see them. This is how our system was designed.

    If you think “freedom” is about being able to assert unsupported opinions without anyone replying, you really, REALLY should have paid closer attention in history class.

  18. Yeah, Sam. Sometimes it’s stunning how people seem to think that shying away from spirited argument by taking their ball and going home will somehow make a point that’s worth making. I once left this blog for a long while, but not because of spirited argument. I just figured that when I had a lot of the writers on this blog arguing that getting nothing of what they want if they can’t have everything they want is better than getting some of what they want. Just figured that, for a time at least, this blog had jumped the shark ;-).

  19. “If you take away guns you don’t take away mentally disturbed or violent people.” This guy completely ignored the comparison between China and Sandy Hook. To make it clear for this guy:

    China psycho -> no access to high powered gun -> uses knife on 23 kids -> all survived.

    Sandy Hook psycho -> access to high powered guns -> uses it on 20 kids (multiple shots when one would’ve done the job) -> no survivors.

    Maybe a visual representation of America’s gun problem will spur action.

  20. I think blaming guns is the easy way out and the most detrimental to our country, not to mention against the Constitution. I wonder how many healthcare workers and other humans knew that young man was a danger to himself and others and how many failures occurred that led to him murdering those children? I don’t understand why it is perfectly acceptable to say “We want to take away your Constitutional right to bear arms but we will scream foul if you suggest that certain humans should be removed from free society because they’re incapable of caring for themselves and exhibit behavior that points to them being a danger to themselves or others because it will violate their civil rights.”

    • I think boiling the Constitution down to the right to own a gun is the easy way out. And while i’m a gun owner and see nothing inherently wrong with guns, i do wonder why the people who feel so strongly about protecting the 2nd Amendment seem rather unconcerned with the rest of the Constitution. I certainly haven’t seen them rise up against tyranny, armed and patriotic, to defend the 1st, 4th, 5th, etc. Amendments.