So who are these people who are living amongst us? AlJazeera examines the Norway attacks and home grown terrorists through a different lens. From the article:" But the combatants are not Islam and the West. Instead, the war is between the normal, sane people of the world and the right-wing zealots who see doom, destruction, hellfire and God's Will at every turn." And further-" These men are insecure, violently inclined, and illiberal. The outside world scares them. They hate homosexuals and strong women. For them, difference is a source of insecurity. Their values are militarism, conformism, chauvinism and jingoism. Worst of all they seek to pressure us into compliance while they work frantically to destroy themselves - and the rest of us with them." And finally, in a contrast between the American response to violent extremists and the Norwegian response: " Instead, he pledged to strengthen Norwegian democracy. This is what he said shortly after the terrorist attacks: "Our answer is more democracy, more openness to show that we will not be stopped by this kind of violence." His words illustrate the difference between a society that takes liberal principles as a foundation and one that treats them as an inconvenient luxury."
This article was written after the hearing on Monday in Norway to charge Breivik with his crimes. From this article, I learned that there was at least one security guard present at the sight of the shootings in Norway. "But Norway's royal court said Monday that those killed at the island retreat included Crown Princess Mette-Marit's stepbrother, an off-duty police officer, who was working there as a security guard." Some of the chatter coming from the gun rights extremists pointed to lack of security on the island. If only, oh if only, someone on that island would have had a gun, things would have been different. Apparently these folks have forgotten about the shooting of 4 police officers in Tacoma, Washington and the brazen killing of 3 Pittsburgh police officers in an ambush by Pennsylvania gun permit holder, Richard Poplawski. Read these words about Poplawski and wonder about comparisons to Anders Breivik-"It appears that what police may be looking at is a budding white supremacist who frequented one of the most popular neo-
Nazi websites and harbored an apocalyptic dread of the federal government." And this-"He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday."
So when crazed and paranoid shooters use surprise and are so bent on killing their victims that almost nothing will stop them, someone with a gun may or may not make a difference. Jared Loughner was not stopped in Tucson by the gun permit holder who had his gun out ready to shoot. Instead he was stopped by people tackling him while he was reloading his Glock. Once they seized his gun, the permit holder didn't know who the actual shooter was and almost shot the man who had taken the gun from Loughner. This is the way it works when several people have their guns out at a chaotic scene. Who is the attacker? Who are the victims? Who are the other people with guns at the scene of an attack? Who will police think is the shooter when a lot of people have guns out?
This article examines Breivik's version of Christendom and wonders about his sanity. Is he a madman? Is he actually a religious extremist? "The fundamental point is that Breivik could slaughter children without remorse precisely because it was a logical extension of his own worldview." His world view is a sick and dangerous one that could be shared by others. Is Breivik just another mass murderer? Unfortunately, we have had plenty of opportunities to examine the likes of Breivik from so many other mass shootings and acts of destruction. In this article it is noted that: "Almost by definition, mass murderers are well trained and comfortable with their chosen weapon of mass destruction. Guns are usually preferred, as bombs can be less predictable."
Could it be that guns are powerful and intimidating? According to the assessment in the article above, guns are more predictable. Great. Let's look at the guns and ammunition used by Breivik. "Dr. Colin Poole, head of surgery at Ringriket Hospital in Honefoss northwest of Oslo, told The Associated Press that the gunman used special bullets designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage. Poole said surgeons treating 16 gunshot victims have recovered no full bullets. "These bullets more or less exploded inside the body," Poole said. "It's caused us all kinds of extra problems in dealing with the wounds they cause, with very strange trajectories." Ballistics experts say "dum-dum"-style bullets also are lighter in weight and can be fired with greater accuracy over varying distances." Really? Breivik knew what he was doing. Why are these kinds of bullets even available on the market? Questions need to be asked.
Here's another look at the weapon of choice in many high profile shootings- the Glock- semiautomatic pistol. Why are these the pistols of choice? They can take high capacity magazines making it possible to shoot many people at a time. They are semi-automatic allowing for more shots in a shorter period of time, thus the ability to shoot more people. Why does anyone want to shoot many people at a time? Good question. There are a lot of Glocks in the hands of American citizens. They are efficient. They are effective. And then, it's worth looking at the assault rifle owned by Breivik- the Ruger Mini-14, "poor man's assault rifle". Breivik and others who have shot innocents in spree shootings know which guns will be most affective to take down as many people as possible. That is their intent. The guns are there for them and far too easy to obtain. That is the shame of gun policy which has allowed common citizens to own military style weapons.
So, besides these crazed individuals, who else is living amongst us about whom we should be concerned? The militia groups. Here is the definition of "militia". It is generally perceived that militia refers to an organized group of people considered to be in the armed service or fit to be of military service. Yet many of my readers have claimed that ALL of us are members of the militia. This is their excuse to arm themselves in preparation for fighting against their own country. Some are members of actual militia groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of insurrectionist activity around the country. On the website, there is a section about militia groups. I have written before about the Sovereign Citizens. That's one scary group of individuals. But there are others as well. Michigan is a place known for its' Militia groups. Check this out to see for yourself the kind of people who might be living in your neighborhood. If you wander around on this website you may find some pretty interesting and frightening things.
We can't talk about this subject without talking about the role of some in the media to ramp up violent rhetoric. Glenn Beck made a ridiculous, uninformed and inflammatory comment about the Norwegian youth who were at the camp where the shootings occurred. I include him in this post because he is capable of inciting his viewers and listeners. And, in fact, there have been several incidents in the last few years where a shooter has admitted to being influenced by Glenn Beck. This California man said he wanted to start a revolution by attacking people who worked for an organization vilified by Glenn Beck. There are people out there with sinister ideas ready to act on them with just a little encouragement. Where is common sense?
I have found that the articles about the Norway attacks keep coming. Below are just some of them that may help us understand why and how the horrendous attacks in Norway took place. We may well see more of these attacks so learning all we can now could help with preventative measures.
- Here is an article about the mental state of Anders Breivik.
- Here is an article about Breivik's views about women.
- Here is an article about whether or not Breivik is a Christian
- Here is an article about the inevitability of more, and possibly worse terror attacks
- Here is an opinion piece from the London Evening Standard about gun laws in Norway and in Britain and whether lessons can be learned