Image credit: Gizmodo.
On December 14th 2012, two schools on different sides of the world were attacked by men wielding weapons. In one, 22 children were injured but none died; in the other, 27 young boys and girls were killed*. The difference? The second killer had a gun, the first didn’t.
A spate of attacks on schools in China began in March 2010 and carried on into 2011. Given the recent attacks in Guangxi and and Henan this year, I think it’s fair to say the ‘spree’ has continued. However, in all those attacks, knives or other edged-weapons were used. As Andrew Sullivan points out, there were a total of 21 fatalities in all of the Chinese attacks over a two year period (24 if you include the attacks in 2012). The recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut alone left at least 27 people dead.
The root causes behind such attacks or rampages are largely the same in both China and the US: stress, depression, anxiety, and, most of all, shamefully poor mental health care. All of these factors should and must be treated, but we can’t get away from the fact that the vast difference in the respective deaths toll is based on one factor alone, gun control.
Commentators in the US and elsewhere will hold up the tragedy in Henan and use it to say “See, these attacks happen everywhere”, and indeed, the potential for massacres, attacks, and rampages of the sort that happened in Henan and Newtown is inherent in every society. But societies which allow their citizens easy access to firearms, of any type, are placing their citizens at a far higher risk of death and injury than those that do not.
*Figures as of 6am, 15th December.