It seems that we can hardly go a week without some quiet, lonely and otherwise law-abiding guy shooting up a few people. Such mass shootings have created an outcry among morons who think that guns kill people. There is however considerable evidence that killing lots of people without guns is actually quite easy, if the persons doing it is so determined. Moreover there are excellent contemporary examples, such as the ongoing drug wars in Mexico, that show the inefficacy of legal gun control in preventing people from acquiring guns.
Now I don’t know whether these weekly mass-shootings will become more frequent (likely) or deadlier (somewhat less likely), but that discussion is best saved for another post. But there is another and far more interesting trend that I predict will emerge regardless of whether lawmakers try to pass more restrictive laws about gun ownership. I have partially tackled this issue in a previous post.
People who are unhappy with the system, and see no viable future, will increasingly kill others through means that are not gun or explosive linked.
If you think about it, guns are actually a pretty inefficient means for killing lots of people. There is a whole series of logistic issues starting with how many people you can reliably kill until your guns jam or other armed people intervene. The medical treatment of gunshot wounds has improved considerably and almost all those who don’t die until they receive medical care will survive. Under most conditions you can expect anywhere from 5-40 deaths per incident and maybe double the number of wounded people. In my opinion, it is not too efficient and lacks plausible deniability.
Many other methods are far more efficient and have the advantage of plausible deniability. For example: it is hard to ascertain whether a low level health-care worker who administered the wrong drug, forgot to prevent cross-contamination or acted in any other manner which results in the death of many patients is malicious or just incompetent. Similarly a worker in a meat processing plant whose actions allows millions of tons of highly contaminated meat from entering the food supply killing dozens of kids in a horribly painful way can always plead incompetence or poor training. A low-level guy in a company that makes or packages medicines whose actions cause entire batches of medicines to be contaminated or poisonous can always plead incompetence and bad direction from superiors. The same goes for underpaid and unhappy people running machines and systems whose malfunction can directly and indirectly kill scores of people and cause billions, if not trillions, in secondary and tertiary damage.
Ultimately all complex human systems depend on the non-human components to be well maintained and run by people who do a good job and are proactive. But you cannot motivate people to do that (beyond a few years) by putting a gun to their head or otherwise constantly threatening them with poverty and hunger. This is especially true in an age when even poor people do not have enough extra kids to play against each other or use as fuel or disposable for capitalism. Furthermore the complexity and inter-connectedness of our systems is so great, and redundancy so low, that seemingly small incidents of bad faith could easily amplify and destabilize the whole system.
It is far easier to stop a guy with a gun, than one who is using his trusted position and knowledge of a system to destabilize it in a lethal way.
The current levels of unemployment and underemployment in youth combined with social atomization and the general loss of faith in the ability of society to fulfill its end of the deal make the widespread emergence of such behavior a matter of when, not if.
What do you think? Comments?