Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guns don't kill people, paintball does (apparently)

In an incredibly misguided attempt to avoid a repeat of the Winnenden massacre, in which a 17 year old German teenager, Tim K, shot 15 victims in his school in southwestern Germany using a firearm he had stolen from his father, the German government has decided to draft legislation with a view to banning paintball and laser tag.

Yes, that's correct. Apparently, in the minds of the German legislature, nothing prepares a potential murderer like paintball.

Meanwhile, actual firearms get off relatively scot free.

"German media reported that lawmakers were also considering barring people under the age of 18 from shooting high-calibre guns at target practice and permitting police to conduct random checks at the homes of gun owners to ensure their weapons are under lock and key.

Other measures would include creating a digital database of firearms as well as biometric security systems to help ensure weapons are used by their rightful owners. In addition, lawmakers would introduce an amnesty for owners of illegal firearms if they turn them in to authorities, reports said."

Considering the existing age at which one can legally acquire a firearm in Germany is currently 14, one can't help but get the feeling that the stable door is being shut after the horse has bolted and shot 15 people.

It's also believed that German lawmakers want to avoid stepping on the toes of hobbyist marksmen. It's OK to ban games which simulate killing, but any pursuit in which one actually makes use of the potential instrument of murder is above board.

No wonder these people lost two world wars.

But Eric, you Herculean epitome of godly perfection, why are you calling for restrictions of firearm ownership, I hear you cry? Surely this goes against your libertarian political grounding?

Let me stop you there for a minute. Yes, I am being slightly hypocritical when I say that people shouldn't be allowed guns but should be allowed to inject whatever drug under the sun they wish to into their system.

But therein lies a key difference.

Through the ownership of guns, as a frighteningly large tally of cases have shown us in Germany and America, there is an inherent risk in those countries that private ownership of firearms is largely dangerous to the public at large. Suffice to say, the national tempermant of both nations does not suit the open private ownership laws in relation to firearms which are currently on the respective books.

Take Switzerland, for example. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it has one of the highest gun ownership per capita rates in Europe. I challenge you to present me with the last school or workplace shooting to have occured in Switzerland.

I'm no psychologist, so I'm not even going to attempt to explain what seems to set America and Germany apart from the rest of the world in this regard. In summation, however, I will say this - civil rights are only rights when they do not harm society at large. When they do, they stop being rights and, in some cases, become heavily regulated and controlled privileges.

Gun ownership should remain firmly in the latter.

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