Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Lefty Kerryn Goldsworthy reckons the Virgina Tech murders are "more than twice as bad as Columbine". In terms of numbers she's correct: at Virginia Tech 33 people were killed; at Columbine the death toll was 15. But if numbers are the factor determining the "badness" of a shooting crime Goldsworthy really should have included the world record mass shooting, Martin Bryant's killing of 35 at Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Goldworthy takes the opportunity of this most recent mass shooting to slam Americans' attitude to gun ownership:
So deeply ingrained is a sense of the so-called 'right to bear arms', so powerful is the gun lobby and so deep in denial the many Americans who can't see the connection between the country's gun culture and the fact that this kind of mass shooting happens periodically, that any real change in the gun laws across the US seems unlikely ever to take place. In which case, the massacres will continue and Americans will continue to be astonished by them.
Goldworthy fails to note that the Columbine and Port Arthur massacres were committed with illegal guns. She also ignores the many mass killings committed in countries where guns are much more tightly controlled than in the US.

Regardless, the magnitude of the Virginia Tech crime is huge. But I expect that the loved ones of those killed will have things to think about other than the number killed.


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