Roger L. Simon

How violent is the USA?

In the wake of the tragedy in Virginia (and the one in Colorado) we are hearing a lot of hand-wringing in the media (including Pajamas Media!) about how violent the US is…. what should we do…. etc., etc.

Frankly, I’m skeptical.

This is a country of three hundred million people. Compared to the rest of the world, I have not noticed it to be particularly violent. Europe, during my lifetime, has had fifty million or so die by each others’ hands. Asia, under Mao and Pol Pot and others, has seen carnage that may even surpass that hideous figure. The thirty-three who were murdered by a solitary lunatic in Virginia would not have created a blink in those environments. And we are not even alone in this form of solitary rage killing (assuming that you don’t think Pol Pot is “extended” rage killing). Even tiny Scotland has seen it occur, a country with a population of but five million. On a per capita basis, they could be argued to be far more violent than we are. (Sixteen were killed by the mass murderer in Scotland in 1996.) But that would be a specious argument just as arguing that the carnage in Virginia means that the USA is more violent than, say, France, where riots have raged off and on for the last couple of years.

My writing this is, of course, to demonstrate that the debates over the Second Amendment (about which I am agnostic) that are emerging from this tragedy are essentially pointless. Like all tragedies, the message is deeper and more complex than the quotidian arguments over gun control.