Following the recent Florida mass killing it might be useful to examine the gun situation in a variety of countries for some hint at not why guns, but their use.
The countries I have chosen are the United States, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and India. The reason is that I have lived in each of them, two for a number of years. Three are Democracies, Saudi Arabia being a Monarchy
In each one of these countries it is legal for private citizens to own guns. The rate of gun ownership per 100,000 persons varies considerably. In the United States it is 101/100,000, in Switzerland 46/100,000, in Saudi Arabia it is 35/100,000 and in India 3.36/100,000.
The incarceration rates for felons, whether their felony was committed with a firearm or not is; 147 per 100,000 for the United States, 0.033/100,000 in India, .0012 for Switzerland, .0006 for Saudi Arabia. Of the latter, 75% of the prisoners are foreigners.
Despite these seeming differences, three of the these countries, namely India, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have one thing in common; that is they do not have trial by jury. India and Switzerland did at one time, India abolished not too long after the British relinquished control in 1949 and only one Canton in Switzerland still maintains a jury system, but not like that of the U. S. Saudi Arabia, under Sharia law, never allowed trial by jury but does permit appeal. In all three, the prosecution gathers evidence against the accused and it is the accused that has the obligation to prove innocence. I am unaware of the appeal process in India or Switzerland but in Saudi Arabia you can appeal to a higher religious authority but run the risk of your punishment being increased if your appeal is denied. Many of my fellow oil company associates who worked in Saudi Arabia back in the 1950s still recall being gathered together at the main gate at quitting time on the last day of the work week by the religious police to bear witness to a beheading.
It is difficult to compare death penalty statistics, particularly with regard to Saudi Arabia because under Sharia, several crimes, such as adultery and drug smuggling carry the death penalty. Switzerland does not impose a death penalty except for treason. India has only 402 prisoners awaiting execution and Saudi Arabia has none, because the sentence is usually carried out in less than two weeks after conviction. In the United States 23 prisoners were executed in 2017 and nearly 3,500 currently await execution. In 2014 alone over 8,000 murders were committed with firearms in the United States. In 2017 Chicago alone counted over 700. Most of these will never be prosecuted because the police are loath to even enter the area where the majority are committed and you can’t blame them because chances are if they use force to remand the perpetrators they themselves will be prosecuted.
You can punish a murderer and by putting him immediately to death remove the possibility of them committing another and to serve as a deterrent to those who may contemplate it. You cannot prevent it from being perpetrated. John Kennedy found that out as did Ronald Reagan, even after presidential security was beefed up and procedures altered to where he was fortunately only wounded. Suicide bombers murdered over 3000 on 9/11 and continue to do so around the world primarily because we have turned much of the world into a police state where the criminals are free and the law abiding is subjected to constraints similar to a prison.
All evidence exposed to date on the Florida killings indicate that this perpetrator could have been prevented from executing his known threats against those he believed deprived him of a future. In addition, they indicate that during the perpetration of his crime, law enforcement did not react sufficiently to mitigate the carnage.
I was born before the great depression began but not cognizant of its impact until after its affects had been abated by the breakout of World War II. I do recall being taught good and bad in church that was further reinforced at home with my nuclear family; a father, mother and one younger brother who did not come along until 1939. Despite the despair foisted upon those 25% of the working population I believe theft and certainly murder was the least things being considered, even by those most impacted by the loss of their jobs. The fact that nature caused their misfortune, would ultimately return to normal and their fellow citizens shared what they had to try and tide them over, gave them the hope that was finally rewarded by the patience to weather it out.
People fail to realize how difficult it is to steal and yet still easy to murder. In a cashless society you must resort to extremes to be able to get money on which to live and to do that you need get into the drug trade which people are trying to make legal and would put an end to illicit drug trade and cost thousands of paying jobs for drug traffickers. It is either that or go back to live with your parents because you must work to earn a living and there are more workers being created than jobs for them to work at. Where there are jobs in the private sector, employers are doing their very best to reduce the number of employees because labor is an increasing variable cost determined by the government.
The Florida shooter had no family, his adoptive mother was dead. He had no family, employed or on Social Security to fall back on and his job hopes, even at McDonald’s was hampered by the many others who would have been selected before him. What do you do when the only out was to join the growing number of homeless now flocking to our cities to beg for money to keep up a drug habit and hope for a meal at one of the charity kitchens? Whether consciously or not, he chose the out that will not only give him some sort of notoriety but insure that he will never have to work for a living again. The government will house, clothe and feed him for the rest of his life and provide medical care if he needs it in surroundings complete with library, recreation and camaraderie of people just like himself.
My point is we have become wimps when it comes to crime, particularly violent crime and our economic system is breeding more of the type than we are removing and can expect more in the future as our economic system churns out more and more of them. Let’s just hope the homeless don’t figure out it is easier to commit a violent crime than to expect charity.