By Mr. Curmudgeon:
Firemen Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka had just arrived at a blazing home in Webster, New York, when William Spangler opened fire, killing the firefighters and wounding two others. According to police, Spangler deliberately set the fire to lure first-responders to the scene. During a gun battle with police, Spangler turned his weapon on himself, ending his life.
William Spangler was released from prison in 1998 after serving 17 years for murdering his 92-year-old grandmother. Spangler’s assault weapon in that case was a hammer.
“We don’t have an easy reason,” said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering of Spangler’s motive for the shooting ambush of the city’s firefighters, “but just looking at the history … obviously this was an individual with a lot of problems,” Pickering told the Reuters News Service.
“As a convicted felon,” Reuters noted, “it was illegal for Spangler to own guns.” That evades the real question: How is it that a man who murdered his elderly grandmother lives to walk the streets a free man?
The mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, rekindled the tired gun-control debate that insists the way to prevent such tragedies is to render every American as defenseless as the schoolchildren murdered by a Connecticut madman. Spangler’s grandmother proved that a perpetrator’s means of slaughter is less important than his murderous intent.
More importantly, Spangler’s release from prison proved that controlling murderous madmen is less important to our authoritarian nanny state than controlling law-abiding Americans. And that gets us to the crux of the matter – state control.
The question for promoters of authoritarian control is: Does it work?
On March 23, 2010, eight elementary school children were killed and five severely wounded after a man wielding a knife entered the Nanping City Experimental Elementary School in Fujian Province, People’s Republic of China. According to the Associated Press, the perpetrator was Zheng Minsheng, a community doctor with a history of mental illness, who confessed to the horrible crime saying, “life was meaningless.”
Responding to American gun violence, China’s Public Security Ministry spokesman Wu Heping said, “If there’s no access to the weapon, people cannot commit a gun crime.” However, a totalitarian China is having trouble keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Statistics released by China’s Public Security Ministry in 2007 admitted police confiscated “178,000 illegal guns, 3,900 tons of explosives, 7.77 million detonators and 4.75 million bullets,” the China Daily reported.
Dr. Zheng Minsheng, who murdered eight elementary school children, was found guilty by a Chinese court and sentenced to death. He was executed by a state-sanctioned firing squad.
Just in passing, the same day Americans were shocked by the murderous rampage in Newtown, Min Yingjun, 36, stabbed 22 children and one adult at an elementary school in China’s Henan Province. “Some Chinese bloggers have blamed the lack of freedom of expression for the attacks,” reported CBS News, “suggesting people frustrated by their own circumstances but lacking the means to seek justice or voice their concerns with the all-powerful communist government, lash out instead at the least powerful members of society.”
CBS noted that China’s “mental health care facilities may also be partly to blame for the attacks. There are almost no mental health care facilities in rural communities, which have experienced dramatic changes over the last several years as China’s economy has grown.”
All-powerful authoritarian states are anything but. They can control the well-adjusted and law-abiding, killing individual freedom in the process, but flatter themselves by thinking they control the human heart or its twisted variations.
As China’s totalitarian utopia proves, the only ones with guns in the all-powerful state are criminals and state-sanctioned firing squads. And it is impossible to distinguish one from the other.