The liberal claim is familiar: Mass shootings are uniquely an American problem, and we just need more gun laws to fix it.
However, a horrifying attack in the Russia-ruled territory of Crimea this week is casting doubt on both those assumptions. At least 21 people were murdered and 68 were injured at a college in the territory after an 18-year-old student went on a rampage.
It didn’t take “assault weapons,” the go-to villain of American liberals, to cause the carnage. Instead, the killer allegedly carried out the attack with a shotgun and makeshift bombs before taking his own life in the city of Kerch, on the far eastern end of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea.
“Vladislav Roslyakov, 18, stalked his college halls with a shotgun and let off homemade explosives before killing himself in the school library at Kerch Polytechnic College,” The Daily Mail reported.
“Harrowing footage has emerged of pupils running for their lives as the gunman opened fire. Terrified students could be heard screaming amid blasts from a shotgun in videos captured during the rampage yesterday,” the outlet continued.
Could strict gun laws have prevented the tragedy? The facts suggest not — and they probably left victims at the college completely defenseless.
While it is not internationally recognized as Russian territory, Crimea has been under Moscow’s control since Russia annexed it by force from Ukraine in 2014. Russia already closely regulates gun ownership, and it appears that those did little to deter the killer.
“The shooter, who is thought to have obtained shotguns and rifles with a hunting licence for which he passed a psychological assessment, also set off a homemade nail-bomb in the canteen which blew out the windows,” The Mail explained.
According to the U.S. Library of Congress, Russia’s gun laws are considered much more restrictive than in America.
“Russian legislation on gun control is relatively strict, limiting the circulation of firearms to Russian citizens older than eighteen years of age with a registered permanent residence, and for the purposes of self-defense, hunting, and sports activities only,” the LOC pointed out.
Owning even a basic long gun such as a deer rifle has steep requirements that exceed the laws of most locations in the United States.
“The acquisition of guns is based on licenses provided for a five-year period by local police departments at one’s place of residence after a thorough background check, including a review of the petitioner’s ability to store guns safely and an evaluation of his/her medical records,” the Library of Congress continued.
“Mentally ill people and those who have been treated for substance abuse are not allowed to possess firearms.”
In other words, Russia already has most of the gun control measures that Democrats frequently call for here. It appears to have made no difference.
News outlets, including The Daily Mail and the Russian-language news outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda confirmed that the shooter passed legal, psychiatric and medical tests that were required by the law for gun ownership.
Friends of the Crimea shooter suggested that he might have been upset after a hard breakup with a girlfriend, according to the Daily Mail, while authorities are also checking on whether he may have been recruited by a terrorist group such as the so-called Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his own opinion on what caused the killer to snap. “Young people with unstable minds create false heroes for themselves,” he said during an appearance in the Russian city of Sochi, according to Reuters.
“This means that we all, not just Russia, but we across the world are reacting badly to changing conditions in the world. We are not creating necessary, interesting and useful content for young people,” Putin continued.
At least he didn’t blame the guns.
The horror dominated newspapers in Russia, as the BBC pointed out.
Today’s Russian papers on the massacre at Kerch Polytechnic:
“The deadliest shooting in modern Russian history.”
“Death enters the gates of Crimea.”
“Black Sea of Tears”
“We are doomed to see a repetition.”
Click for a full press review. pic.twitter.com/9gE5HFXt33
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) October 18, 2018
Wednesday’s mass shooting, while certainly tragic, further disproves liberal claims that only America faces this kind of violence.
“This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” then-President Obama falsely claimed in 2015.
“It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency,” he further clarified. But even with that qualification, PolitiFact was forced to label Obama’s claim “Mostly Wrong.”
That site’s researchers found numerous serious mass shootings in other nations, including European countries that are often held up as models for the rest of the world.
“Obama is wrong to say that ‘this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,'” the fact-finding site explained. “Clearly it does happen elsewhere, and not in trivial numbers. Seven of the countries saw double-digit numbers of people killed in mass shootings during that period.”
Add Russia to that list. BBC News recently confirmed that at least five schools in Russia have been targeted by attacks where children were injured — and that’s only this year.
As Putin himself hinted, this sad problem is not simple and will likely require us to take a hard look at culture, especially as it impacts young men.
That would be a good place to start, because the evidence strongly suggests that ever-increasing laws that disarm victims aren’t the solution.
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