Sandy Hook and Peshawar

A couple of news items that struck me recently

* Two years after the Sandy Hook massacre, a US Federal Appeals Court has ruled that people with a history of mental illness have a constitutional right to gun ownership.

* In the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar massacre, a Pakistani judge granted bail to the alleged planner of the Mumbai massacre, Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, a leading figure in the (military-backed) Lashkar e-Taibi terrorist group.

Obviously, these decisions were neither aberrational nor the product of a legal system divorced from any social context. Rather, they reflect deeply ingrained views in the societies from which they emerged. Beyond that point, I don’t have a lot to say, but I’ll be interested to read the views of others.

89 thoughts on “Sandy Hook and Peshawar

  1. I think it’s unsafe to draw too much from the gun law thing. It came down to a poorly-implemented state law:

    as a 2011 New York Times piece reported, a number of states have created rights-restoring programs under which petitioners with past disqualifying mental illnesses can submit documentation to show that they’ve recovered and are fit to own a gun. Michigan never set up such a program, though, so Tyler had no means of proving himself fit.

  2. I think keeping civilian gun ownership down to a sensible mimimum like Australia does is a good idea. It doesn’t stop disturbed people or political fundamentalists getting guns in some instances and still murdering . It doesn’t stop murders with other weapons. But gun murder stats are kept way down.

    (Civilian?) Firearm-related death rate per 100,000 population per year. – Wikipedia.

    US 10.3 (2011) and there are about a dozen countries worse, some much worse.
    Australia 0.86 (2011)

    “The Small Arms Survey is also useful – although it is from 2007, it collates civilian gun ownership rates for 178 countries around the world, and has ‘normalised’ the data to include a rate per 100,000 population.” – The Guardian.

    According to The Guardian:

    The key facts are:

    • The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership – and even the number two country, Yemen, has significantly fewer – 54.8 per 100 people
    • But the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate – that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica. In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people
    • Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides – 94.8%. It’s followed by Sierra Leone in Africa and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean

    Which statistics are right? Wikipedia said US 10.3 per 100,000 people. That’s a big difference in stats for a 4 year gap. Are they defining things in different ways? Is someone counting wrong?

    The Guardian Australia says in an article titled “High gun ownership makes countries less safe, US study finds”: Wednesday 18 September 2013

    “Guns do not make a nation safer, say US doctors who have compared the rate of firearms-related deaths in countries where many people own guns with the death rate in countries where gun ownership is rare.

    Their findings, published Wednesday (this is 2013) in the prestigious American Journal of Medicine, debunk the historic belief among many people in the United States that guns make a country safer, they say. On the contrary, the US, with the most guns per head in the world, has the highest rate of deaths from firearms, while Japan, which has the lowest rate of gun ownership, has the least.

    The journal has fast-tracked publication of the study because of the shootings at the Washington navy yard. It was originally scheduled for later this week.

    It follows an emotional appeal from a doctor at the trauma center in Washington where the victims of Aaron Alexis’ random violence were taken. “I would like you to put my trauma center out of business,” Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told reporters in the aftermath of the massacre. “I would like to not be an expert on gunshots. Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.”

    The fraught question of whether gun ownership protects populations from crime or makes them less likely to be killed has been debated for 200 years, say the authors, Sripal Bangalore of NYU Langone Medical Center, and Franz H Messerli of St Luke’s Roosevelt hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. They say the arguments began as soon as the second amendment stating “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” was passed in 1791.

    At one end is the argument that gun control laws are an infringement on the right to self-defense and on constitutional rights, and that there is no evidence that banning assault weapons would reduce crime. At the other end is the view that fewer firearms would reduce crime rates and overall lead to greater safety, they say.

    In some of the recent mass shootings – for instance those in Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek, Virginia Tech – it has been suggested that the killer was mentally ill and that lack of treatment was a bigger issue than gun ownership. With this in mind, the New York-based doctors looked in their study not only at the relationship of gun ownership to firearms deaths but also mental illness.

    They examined data from 27 developed countries, using gun ownership figures from the Small Arms Survey and deaths from the World Health Organisation, the National Center for Health Statistics and others. They also looked at crime rates compiled by the United Nations for an indication of the safety of each country.

    More guns meant more deaths, they found. “The gun ownership rate was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death,” says Bangalore. “Private gun ownership was highest in the US. Japan, on the other end, had an extremely low gun ownership rate. Similarly, South Africa (9.4 per 100,000) and the US (10.2 per 100,000) had extremely high firearm-related deaths, whereas the United Kingdom (0.25 per 100,000) had an extremely low rate of firearm-related deaths.

    “There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and the US being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership.”

    High rates of mental illness in any country, on the other hand, did not predict more gun deaths.

    “Although correlation is not the same as causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit by bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US,” the doctors write.

    “Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership.”

  3. Define mental illness. The DSM catalogues an ever-growing list of ‘illnesses’ that are really don’t cause an impairment. Is OCD a mental illness such that one should be banned from owning a firearm, or driving a car (given the use of cars in attacks in Jerusalem and France recently, anything can be a weapon)? What of anxiety disorders? Transsexuals are included in the DSM: are we a menace to society purely because of that? Are we even ‘ill’?

    Mental illness is a real thing, but it is often transitory. Even when it isn’t, it probably doesn’t put a stop to someone’s life. Let’s not forget that, throughout history, the label of ‘mentally ill’ has been used as a tool of social control.

    Ikonoclast’s quoted study seems disingenuous: if there aren’t many firearms, then they won’t be used as often. We often see suicide as a reason to restrict firearms, but Japan has a high suicide rate. Then we can look at the laws and misuse of firearms and see that Mexico, for example, has an horrendous murder rate but tight gun laws, while Switzerland has many firearms in the community, but they are rarely misused. The culture of a society seems to be a large factor in all of this. Even within a society, the uneven distribution of firearm misuse and resultant suffering between various geographic areas and ethnic groups highlights the importance of social attitudes toward violence. A macho, honour-shame society or part of it will always have more violence.

    There is also the disconnect between illegality and the reality of availability. We have had tight drug laws for a long time, but drugs are not hard to find. Guns are old technology. Cheap machine tools result in them being easy to manufacture and who knows what will occur with 3D printing. It seems to me that fixating on the ‘evil thing’ is not the most constructive response. Perhaps better results might be seen from concentrating on problematic attitudes that cause some people to be more prone to violence, just as enlightened drug policy concentrates on harm minimisation and, in some jurisdictions such CO and WA in the USA, is even moving toward an acceptance of the reality that some genies cannot be put back in their bottles.

  4. For any Americans participating in this comment thread, I will point out that what seems surprising to many non-Americans is that the United States has not changed the second amendment or interpreted it in such a way that prevents people from buying and carrying firearms such as pistols for the purpose of self defence.

    Events since the formation of the republic have shown there is a tension between the goals set out in the preamble of the Constitution and widespread private gun ownership and so it seems odd that so little has been done to control and limit firearm ownership. It seems clear that to, “…insure domestic Tranquility…” and “…promote the general Welfare…” requires robust public health measures that definitely should include gun control. It is interesting, and to many of us odd, that after all these years of significantly more gun violence than in other developed countries, so little has been done to resolve this tension.

  5. @Ronald Brak

    It’s about profits for weapons manufacturers and the whole military-industrial-oligarch complex. They have a great system going at all levels. Promote wars and instability abroad. Sell bulk weapons to US military. Sell bulk slightly obsolete weapons to allies. Sell bulk even more obsolete weapons to allies today who might be declared enemies tomorrow. Sell bulk side arms to the American public. Sell bulk retired armoured personnel carriers with anti-IED capability and other medium weaponry to Homeland Security along with 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition (in March 2013 causing a world-wide non-military ammunition shortage… very temporarily). Sell heavy side-arms and military level full automatics, street-sweeper shotguns etc. to paramilitarised police forces. Look like passing token magazine-size control laws. Cause a huge rush on semi-automatic and automatic weapons / magazines to beat the “ban”.

    Unleash hell at every level. Don’t worry about deaths, at least 20% of the population is unproductive and expendable (for systemic reasons of course but call it their fault). Rinse and repeat. Count profits.

  6. @Mayan

    Mental illness is hard to define, but rather easy to identify when you see it.

    But I guess the sort of mental illness that should disqualify you from gun ownership is pretty simple. If you don’t need a gun, and you want one, you fail the test.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people…

    Which statistics are right? Wikipedia said US 10.3 per 100,000 people.

    Not necessary for one of them to be wrong and the other right.

    One is “Firearm-related death” and the other is “murder”.

    For example police/security shootings account for one death (usually black) in the US every day. The vast majority of those are not “murder” in the sense that the killer does not end up being charged let alone found guilty.

    And of course there’s suicide. “PewResearch.Org” has an article from 2013 titled ‘Suicides Count For Most Gun Deaths”:

    Suicides by gun accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths in 2010 and just over half of all suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Since the CDC began publishing data in 1981, gun suicides have outnumbered gun homicides. But as gun homicides have declined sharply in recent years, suicides have become a greater share of all firearm deaths: the 61% share in 2010 was the highest on record. That year there were 19,392 suicides by firearm compared to 11,078 homicides by gun (35% of all firearm deaths). The rest were accidents, police shootings and unknown causes.

    Violence begets violence. The US is as responsible for anything that happens in places it nefariously involves itself, such as Pakistan, as the “locals”.

  8. It’s worth noting that the loony-tunes who recently took 17 hostages in Martin Place was armed with a shotgun. Not a semi-automatic or pump action shotgun, which were banned in 1996. So he had a weapon he could only shoot twice (I guess) before having to reload manually. He also doesn’t seem to have had any body armour. So he wasn’t a threat to the police, and had very little ability to kill his hostages as a group (though obviously he was still lethally armed). This means that in Australia a man who had a clear desire to make a powerful terrorist statement, and probably wasn’t planning on coming out of it alive, couldn’t arm himself for the task. The same scenario in America would have played out very differently, I think …

  9. Neo-Con’s have a deep ideological hatred for the existing ‘rule of law’ (see anything published in a Murdoch outlet, for example) and want star chamber “justice” instead.

    Over hundreds of years people threw off capriciously applied arbitrary decrees of “guilt” and replaced them with democracy and the “rule of law”.

    The key thing to remember with bail is the word “alleged”. Our criminal justice system is not perfect but it is the best there is at attempting to get a fair outcome. We don’t need fascists like Rupert Murdoch telling us how a justice system should work.

    As an aside, if you only get news and information from inside Australia you wouldn’t be aware of the criminal trials still ongoing in the UK in relation to Murdoch hacks’ corrupt and illegal actions.

    I don’t use “alleged” there because several have been found guilty. That is the difference – even a Murdoch scumbag deserves the presumption of innocence and, if assessed to be appropriate by a judicial officer independent of the government, bail until a proper judicial process is complete.

  10. @faustusnotes

    There are several inquiries/reports/investigations underway into the incident, including a proper judicial process in the from of the inquest, so we’ll have to see what they determine.

    But in my opinion – having watched TV coverage of the final hour live – there is a very real possibility that the police directly caused all three deaths. Two from gunshots and one from heart attack (the manufacturers of stun grenades warn about the likelihood of such deaths in their product material, and a lot of those were being thrown around at the time).

  11. Megan, I have no idea who or what caused what damage, but it appears to me that the hostage taker was not sufficiently armed to either control the hostages or to take on the police. That’s a gun control win. It’s notable that in all the debate about police killings in America the issue of gun control – e.g. the fact that it is routine for police to worry about armed assailants – is not raised, and this toxic dimension of US interactions with police is missed.

  12. @faustusnotes

    Of course you are correct about the apparent effectiveness of gun control in the sense that he didn’t appear to have had any of those banned or controlled weapons.

    Moreover, during the afternoon three hostages managed to run away, and in the early evening two more did too. Just before the mayhem at about 2am (I cynically note, about the last possible time for a ‘Daily Telegraph’ front page wraparound to go to press before the morning papers must be delivered) that resulted in three deaths and several serious injuries, even more hostages ran away.

    That guy didn’t shoot hostages when several of them escaped over several hours. Now three people are dead. We’ll see what the inquiries come up with, but I believe old fashioned experienced police negotiators could have got everyone out alive and justice served for the hostage-taker.

  13. Yes, it was somewhat depressing to realise that probably the same number (or less) of hostages would have died had the people in the coffee shop just ganged up on the gunman.

    But not sure how all gun deaths can be blamed on the police. I thought that the coffee shop owner attempted to disarm the gunman, and was shot, which led to the police storming the shop. Let me know if that is not the case, because I like to know details, but have trouble finding them.

  14. I thought that the coffee shop owner attempted to disarm the gunman

    You might have thought that because that was the narrative?

    As an exercise: can you say ‘why’ you thought that? From what authoritative source you got the information that made you think that?

    Very seriously – I AM NOT having a go at you, or anyone else who thought that scenario was true, I am questioning its origins and veracity.

    The fact that none of the freed hostages have publicly stated that as a fact – or anything else of substance for that matter – indicates that it was a fabrication. A kind of mini-wmd perhaps.

  15. Agree that our gun control laws meant the Sydney hostage-taker did not have an automatic weapon. That almost certainly kept death and injury down.

    Formed the impression from the number of shots the police discharged into a darkened exterior that it is possible that hostages were hit by police bullets. But it is hard to guess what happened from so little information. It is also quite possible that hostages died from the criminal’s fire.

    Would like to know who caused the first discharge or explosion. If it was the criminal, then the police had to go in. If it was the police then they bungled albeit they bungled a difficult situation.

  16. Given that he was armed with a shotgun and more than two people were killed or injured, I can’t see how he could possibly have been responsible for all the damage done. My guess is that any inquiry will exonerate the police whether or not they deserve to be, but I don’t take that to mean they did a bad job. I didn’t pay much attention to the siege, from afar, and saw no video coverage at all, so I don’t care to pass judgment on the police. But even if they bungled it from woe to go, only two people out of a possible 18 (plus police) died, and that’s a win for gun control in my book. It means that Australia remains on track for its 2017 target to show a statistically significant effect of the gun buyback scheme.

    Next, if we can ban all guns outside of shooting ranges, the next looney tunes who wants to mimic IS will have to do it with a knife.

  17. I too am waiting for the details on the end of the Sydney siege. The video I saw included the sound of many many explosions and gunshots. Far more than I could be convinced was necessary or indicated a well-trained and successful police operation. It was reported that one police officer had pellet wounds to the face (from the gunman?). I don’t remember hearing a shotgun discharge on the video but it could have been muffled or before the bit I saw. So from what is reported 7 people were hit by at least 1 bullet. (5 hostages + 1 gunman + 1 policeman) It’s going to be pretty interesting exercise tracing all those bullet trajectories. Is there a timeline for the investigation?

    As a side note, some years ago there was major lobbying for more firepower for the police (which they got). At the same time we had some major reductions in firearms types and availability to the public. Is it time for the police to roll back their arsenals as well? I mean if you carry automatic weapons you don’t fire selectively. You empty the magazine.

  18. @David Allen

    Automatic weapons have at least three settings; safety, semi-automatic and automatic. Many have the setting sequence in that order so a panicking shooter will slam the little lever to automatic and empty the magazine. But the Sydney fire sounded like semi-automatic fire to me, i.e. as fast as you can keep pulling the trigger.

    I believe the Kalashnikov has the settings in the order of safety, automatic and semi-automatic so a panicked soldier will tend to select semi-automatic and not blow his whole magazine in one burst.

  19. @Megan

    As an official ideological justification, the concept of ‘rule of law’ can be exploited for tactical advantage in restraining the abuse of power by its holders; but it can also be used by the holders of power as a mystifying device to disguise their own agency and disclaim responsibility.

    Our existing legal system has advantages over some others, but describing it as ‘the best there is’ is an assertion unsupported by evidence.

  20. @Megan
    There were witnesses as to who fired first, but as most of them would have been hostages, and quite traumatised by the experience, I’ll wait until they’ve had a chance to be interviewed by the appropriate authorities, and for their accounts to be cross-checked against other evidence, before I come to conclusions as to what went down. Certainly, once the firing began, it sure sounded (on the TV footage of it) like a lot of bullets were zinging around: knowing why it was necessary for so many shots to be fired, that will hopefully be explained in the aftermath.

    Like many other people, I am wondering if in this case having a sniper shoot the guy would have been the least risk solution. I’m not advocating a shoot first, ask questions later, strategy in general, but perhaps if there was a situation in which it was at least worth considering, this might be that situation. I can appreciate that in the case of a single person as the threat, it is usually worth waiting them out until the fight goes out of them, or they start to fall asleep. Tough job to do as everyone is watching you, second guessing you—as I am doing, for instance.

  21. I think you are looking at it the wrong way, in my book a civilian wanting to own a functioning gun is exhibiting signs of mental illness. That goes for recreational hunters too.

  22. @faustusnotes
    Do you have an source for this claim? Most outlets are reporting it’s not currently certaint what kind of shotgun he was armed with but that it was probably a pump action. Obviously, just because certain firearms were banned in 1996 doesn’t make it impossible for criminals to get hold of them.

  23. To quote the judge quoted by Slate:

    The government’s interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill is not sufficiently related to depriving the mentally healthy, who had a distant episode of commitment, of their constitutional rights.

    I think the comma before “who” should not be there: it’s a restrictive cause. The mentally healthy, even though they were institutionalized 20-30 years prior, cannot be denied the right to own guns on the basis of the mere fact of hospitalization.

    This does not seem unreasonable to me. If I was treated for depression as a college student, does it mean I’m a dangerous maniac at 50?

  24. @rog
    From your past record of commentary I would judge that you are being flippant. However, why would you only cite ‘civilians’ as showing signs of mental illness for wanting to own a gun? I am ok with my ‘mental illness’ for wanting firearms to kill the hares, rabbits, foxes, feral cats, poor people’s ill pets and several species of destructive birds that come to my property on occasion but what about the sanity of war and the odd police shooting of some poor mentally ill person when other means were available?

  25. @Megan

    I’ve no idea why I think the shop owner tried to disarm him and got shot. Except perhaps that having been suggested by someone, it sounds reasonable. Why would the police wait so long before going in guns blazing? The simplest explanation is that there was something that compelled them to act. There may be other explanations and we’ll see…

  26. @Salient Green If you didn’t shoot the foxes rabbit numbers would be down?

    I’m not being flippant, anybody that gets pleasure out of drawing a bead on another living being needs their head read. IMO.

  27. Hunting and therefore gun ownership has become symbolic of male superiority. Teddy Roosevelt was someone seen to identify with alpha males, his safaris could last for months and he shot anything and everything, often in the tens of thousands. He coined the phrase “walk quietly and carry a big stick”.

    In hunting, the finding and killing of the game is after all but a part of the whole. The free, self-reliant, adventurous life, with its rugged and stalwart democracy; the wild surroundings, the grand beauty of the scenery, the chance to study the ways and habits of the woodland creatures—all these unite to give to the career of the wilderness hunter its peculiar charm. The chase is among the best of all national pastimes; it cultivates that vigorous manliness for the lack of which in a nation, as in an individual, the possession of no other qualities can possibly atone

  28. @rog
    I’m disappointed, you usually show much more thoughtfulness. You think foxes only eat rabbits? You think everyone who draws a bead on another living thing gets pleasure from it? You think only civilians get pleasure from drawing a bead? You think feral species should be uncontrolled? Including the occasional human running amok? You think I and many others who need to shoot things shouldn’t take pleasure in the success of the hunt or a job well done while being able to put aside the death of another living creature. I hope you are a vegetarian as the logical conclusion to this would put you in a quandary.
    Anyway, I have a lot of work to do before all the guests arrive for lunch. Merry Christmas all and special tidings to John Q and Ikonoclast and Jungney.

  29. @Salient Green

    Yep, have a Happy Materialism as I say! That is materialism in the philosophical sense as we are material beings. Obviously, I decry too much materialism in the consumerist sense, except being a bit fat makes me a bit of a hypocrite. BTW, I have lost 2 kg in the lead-up to Xmas and I hope to keep the good work going in the New Year.

    With respect to guns, certain civilians need them; some farmers do and professional vermin shooters need them too. I’ve noticed Australian farmers rarely fire their guns. They are not gun happy. Target competition range shooters are sensible people too. The problem is recreational hunters IMO. Nobody but professional vermin shooters should ever be shooting animals except for farmers shooting the odd pest or farm animal that needs to be put down. If a whole herd has to be put down usually a professional shooter is brought in notwithstanding the fact it is often close range work.

    Clearly, Teddy Roosevelt’s attitude to nature and wildlife is despicable. It’s from the era of almost total aristocratic and oligarchic entitlement. All nature and all the lower classes are there to serve and die for the elite’s comfort and amusement. The modern oligarchic elite are taking us backwards and attempting to reconstruct the key elements of their heyday.

  30. I’ve recently heard the comment from that nutbag senator that if Australians had access to legal sidearms then good sidearm owners would protect the public from ‘baddies’. However, I’ve never read any reports from the US or elsewhere in which, by chance encounter, a random gun toter actually protected the public from a ‘baddie’. So, it’s got to be another bit of NRA nonsense.

    I’ve been in licensed possession of two weapons while traveling in remote country. I borrowed them for self protection because, back in the seventies, a good friend was shot and killed while camping somewhere on the NT/Qld border. It appears to have been a ‘thrill kill’ because none of his possessions were stolen.

    So I borrowed an eighteen inch barrel Mossberg eight shot pump action shottie. It would be illegal to own such a close quarters combat weapon now. The other weapon was a double barrel hammerlock shottie.

    Both times I was grateful to have a weapon – once in Tassie and once in WA – when I was the subject of attempted robbery or harm of some sort. The mere sight of such cannons had a salutory effect especially on the mad bastard who approached me at three am while I was camped up near the Peddar Dam ready to head off to the south west the next day. On that occasion, I was the only other person there and this character wanted something. He didn’t sing out from a distance to alert me to his presence. I woke to the sound of his footsteps on gravel.

    There are ways around this sort of danger these days. There are many more campsites these days with far many more people in them than there used to be. Moreover, I usually sleep and camp a couple of hundred metres away from my vehicle.

    I have never fired a gun of any sort.

  31. @Nathan
    Even if it were a pump-action shotgun, they are legally limited to a 3-cartridge magazine. The tube gets crimped at the three-round point.)

  32. @Alex K.

    If you were treated for depression as a college student it doesn’t mean you’re a dangerous maniac at 50; also, if you were treated for depression as a college student it doesn’t mean you were a dangerous maniac then. In the overwhelming majority of cases mental illness does not make people more dangerous to others; it is much more likely to make them dangerous to themselves. I imagine there have been plenty of cases of suicide caused (or partly caused) by depression but very few, if any, of homicide.

    The idea that allowing people with a history of mental illness access to guns is an important blow against the cause of gun control is the converse of the idea that preventing people with a history of mental illness from gaining access to guns is an important element of gun control. Either way round, it’s linked to erroneous and cruelly unfairly stigmatising ideas about mental illness and the people who suffer from it. If you want to pick out an easily identified group of people who should have more severely restricted access to guns because there’s good evidence that they have a higher propensity for violence than the rest of the population, your first choice shouldn’t be the mentally ill, it should be young males.

  33. @J-D

    No contest to your argument but in the US context, what with the 2nd Amendment and its judicial interpretation, there is zero chance young males can be denied gun ownership on the basis of their sex and age. In theory, some states could adopt elaborate disqualification criteria that would keep guns away from a good deal of young men, but they will have to be elaborately worded so as not to be overtly discriminatory.

  34. @Alex K.

    I don’t think there’d be any more acceptance in this country (or any other) than there would be in the US of the idea that young males should be subject to more stringent restrictions on access to firearms than other people. However there is substantial acceptance (in the US and elsewhere) of the idea that people with a history of mental illness should be subject to more stringent restrictions than other people. This is not because of the wording of the Second Amendment; it’s because of the kind of ideas many people have about mental illness, the kind of ideas that lead to people casually using the word ‘maniac’ in the way you did earlier and which are in turn reinforced by that kind of word usage.

  35. Personally I think the USA is over represented in just about every public policy discussion. But few more so than the debate about firearms. It is an outlier in so many ways.

    However so long as we are discussing the USA it would be good to know why the murder of black people is so extreme in that nation. It massively tilts their homicide figures. I presume blacks are mostly killed by other blacks but I have not seen the data. Non blacks are still murdered at a rate higher than Australia but it’s more in line with developed nations. There seems to be something fundamentally broken in regards to black communities in the USA.

  36. @TerjeP

    I don’t know what’s going through your mind, but I do know that other people who make comments along similar lines do so in order to suggest that the problems of black people in the USA are caused by black people, without ever giving any reason for preferring that hypothesis to the alternative one that the problems of black people in the USA are caused by white people.

  37. @TerjeP
    This (found in Wikipedia) might help. Gary Younge in The Nation (2014) wrote

    America is very segregated, and its criminality conforms to that fact. So the victims of most crimes are the same race as those who commit them. Eighty-four percent of white people who are killed every year are killed by white people. White people who buy illegal drugs are most likely to buy them from white people. Far from being extraordinary, the fact that black criminals are most likely to commit crimes against black people makes them just like everybody else. A more honest term than “black-on-black crime” would be, simply, “crime.”

  38. @TerjeP

    It’s an easily observable phenomenon that if you fundamentally break a society or a sub-society they turn on each other as well as on external enemies. Oftentimes, they turn on each other first. When a dominant group is established uniting the society or sub-society (often partly by superior force) then they turn on external enemies. Violence begets violence. The primary violence and oppression in the USA starts and historically has existed as white on black oppression and violence. That’s where the cycle starts. That’s where the whole cycle has to be stopped.

  39. According to Channel 9, repeating unsubstantiated and unsourced “journalism” from a well established propaganda outfit and purveyor of lies (ie: the fascists’ journals of choice, News Limited):

    One of the Sydney siege victims may have been hit by a police bullet and not a blast from the shotgun held by Man Haron Monis, it has been revealed.

    The Australian reports NSW Police Homicide Squad detectives are considering the possibility that police bullets ricocheted off the Lindt café walls, hitting the hostage, after at least one woman’s injuries were found to be consistent with police fire.

    Three surviving women who received gunshot wounds when heavily armed officers stormed the building shortly after 2am on December 16 were taken to different hospitals following the firefight.

    They were told not to discuss the events to preserve the integrity of the “critical incident investigation”.

    I call this the propaganda tactic “The Cat’s on The Roof”, but it could broadly fall under ‘feeding the chooks’ or ‘taking out the trash’.

    My term comes from an old joke. A guy asks his friend to mind his cat and look in on his elderly mother while he is away. After a few days away he calls the friend to see how things are at home. The friend tells him the cat is dead. The guy is beside himself with shock and grief but also anger at the friend for being so insensitive with the devastating news.

    He berates the friend and tells him he shouldn’t have been so insensitive. The friend asks what he should have said, after all the cat was dead and he only told the truth. The guy explains that he should have at first said that the cat was on the roof and wouldn’t come down. Then later he could have said that the cat fell off the roof and was hurt. Later he could have said that the cat was at the vet and things were looking a bit grim. And finally he could have reported that the cat had passed away. That would have been a far more sensitive way to have delivered the news.

    The friend accepted the advice and apologised for having been so blunt with the news.

    The guy accepted the apology. Then he asked how his elderly mother was going.

    The friend said “she’s on the roof and won’t come down”.

  40. @Megan

    If some or all of the gunshot injuries were caused by bullets fired by the police, is there some further conclusion you think that would support? If so, what further conclusion is that? Maybe my recollection is faulty, but I think you suggested earlier that it would have been possible to end the siege without any injuries; however, even if it were shown that some or all of the gunshot injuries were caused by bullets fired by the police, that would not be sufficient to establish the conclusion that the siege could have been ended without any injuries.

  41. Actually, the live footage from ABC 24 is interesting and concerning. Of course, we don’t know if the footage commences when the real action commences. And we can be sure the footage doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Timer 0:00

    Establishing camera shot and ABC female reporter voice-over. This reporter continues voice-over the entire time and makes it harder to count explosions.

    Timer 0:03

    The footage cuts to a camera shot of the police tactical squad of about 8 personnel. The police squad is lined up at a door or entrance and around the corner of the door along the wall. Simultaneously an explosion or shot occurs. The rear person on the squad appears to be involved in this explosion as gases blast backwards from about the position of his pointed weapon in the flashlight of his weapon.

    Timer 0:03

    Entire squad is moving forward in a coordinated fashion at the time of this blast. The entire squad appears to have been given a go command before or timed with the first shot. Lead squad members enter.

    Timer 0:05

    A loud, angry female voice on the scene outside (not the reporter) cries “What the h*ll was that?”

    Timer 0:08 to 0:24

    Next shots or reports. The next two dull reports (shots?), might be inside. Little or no flash. These are followed by several sharp reports and flashes.

    Timer 0:25 to 0:33

    About 4 of the sqaud remain outside in camera view. Two of these prepare (pull pin) and throw something in, probably flash grenades. By this stage, at least 1 initiating shot, two dull report shots and at least a dozen more sharp semi-automatic shots have occurred. It does not seem possible to separate flash grenade reports from other reports at this poor sound quality.

    Timer 0:46

    A uniformed policewoman in (another) shot with a high voice tells a camerman to get back. Is this the woman who shouted “What the h*ll was that?” It sounds likely. So uniformed police likely uninformed of “go” command.

    Summing up.

    Comparing this to other footage, this footage is cut. Other uncut footage suggests at least 3 dozen or more shots. One reporter said. “Frankly, too many to count.” Other footage clearly shows the squad moved before any audible shots or reports. Were there shot sounds or other knowledge the “seige command” had that we are not privy to?

    Over a dozen sharp reports and maybe up to two or three dozen occurred in addition to two duller, heavier reports. The action seemed to be initiated by the police squad moving forward in time with a possible shot from rear sqaud member through the window. If the gases (clearly seen in the weapon flashlight) near this rear member were from a shot inside then the squad was already moving. It’s conceivable their movement drew a shot from the inside in that case.

    There are lots of questions to be answered about this action. What happened and why? How competent was the action? Or was it rash and premature?

    Final question. Has ABC 24, other media and anyone who comments on this footage already broken any new laws?

  42. Monis had a shotgun which(usually) fires pellets, not bullets.

    You could imagine the scenario created by the likes of Leyonhjelm; everybody pulls out their shooters and with bullets flying everywhere the fatalities are more like 90%.

  43. The police have highly trained and experienced negotiators who end sieges without injuries all the time. There was one on the Gold Coast on christmas day, in which the guy had allegedly fired shots, which ended without injury after about 11 hours of stock standard expert police negotiation.

    If “all of the gunshot injuries were caused by bullets fired by the police” that speaks for itself – i.e. the police shot everyone and the hostage taker shot nobody.

  44. @Megan

    Did the Gold Coast seige gunman have any hostages? If not, that radically changes the equation. The police can run an interminable seige in that case. They can wait until he collapses into sleep from sleep deprivation for example.

    On the other hand, did the Sydney Seige police go in precipitately? The claim is the “perp” shot first (into the stomach of a hostage trying to disarm him). Is that true? We don’t know yet.

    Even if it is true, was the assault handled well from that point? Two or three dozen shots in rapid flurries in a dark, confined space (room) all in short order along with at least two flash grenades makes me wonder. Those might be characteristics of an indiscriminate assault.Could clearly make out who they were shooting at?

    It seems like the authorities are managing the event all ready. Why no statement about which projectiles hit which people? Surely they know this by now. These would be matters of ballistic empirical fact. Revealing them before any enquiry is not prejudicial. Why are the authorities already behaving like they have things to hide? People are justifiably cynical about modern right-wing government authority in the West and its propensity to lie and cover up following matters like the Iraq WMD lies and all the spying, war crimes and lies exposed by Wikileaks and the Snowden revelations.

    It might be that nothing untoward or incompetent has occurred in offical actions. But if so the public needs all the available facts so it can judge for itself. The enquiry ought to be expedited.

  45. Footnote: Another media claim is that the perp fired a warning shot and then discharged a second shot (shotgun) at close range into the first victim’s head. Apologies for repeating gruesome claims but it’s the media who first made these claims part of the public record.

    So it’s all about conflicting claims at this point. No substantiated or corroborated facts about what happened inside are yet on the public record.

  46. @Ikonoclast

    Not sure, but he has been charged with “deprivation of liberty” so it’s possible.

    That was just the most recent example off the top of my head. There have been several around the country in the last few months involving “hostages” which ended after negotiation and without injury.

    I agree, and I think I’ve been consistent about this, that we need to see what the proper investigations find and also see what evidence is presented/made public. The tendency to secrecy for “operational reasons”, or whatever other excuse, inevitably undermines public faith in TPTB.

  47. As a general observation on the Sydney siege, my experience is that initial reports are nearly always incorrect.

  48. There was one bit of live footage, shown repeatedly, in which people are escaping through a second storey window, assisted by police. The ABC were among those showing this footage. My understanding is that these people weren’t hostages but were trapped by the siege happening on the ground floor. I wondered at the time and still wonder at why the TV stations would have shown that footage during the siege itself? It would surely have been information best kept from the hostage taker. I guess it is too easy to forget how any thing put on any electronic media may be viewed virtually in real time, by anyone; in this case, the hostage taker could watch the whole thing unfold, including the location of the police.

  49. Apologies for being a little off-topic:

    I read an article on how a lawyer’s first phone call with a client, who was being held at Surry Hills cop shop, was tapped and listened to. I’ve been bothered by this ever since. The difficulty I have with this carte-blanch tapping of lawyer-terrorist suspect phone calls is that if the terrorist suspect should use any of the standard keywords, the lawyer could be put on the terrorist watchlist as well. This possibility must surely play on the mind of a lawyer representing a terrorism suspect, the tacit threat being that if you play hard for your client’s benefit, the secret service will keep you on the electronic surveillance list indefinitely—including for future, non-terrorist suspect clients. We are well and truly in the Stazi state era.

  50. @Donald Oats

    To my mind, even more concerning is the abuse of the fundamentally sacrosanct lawyer-client privilege. We cannot have a functioning justice system if we are willing to let that be abused in the name of “security”.

    What was the famous quote? “Those who would trade liberty for security will lose both, and deserve neither.”

    Der Spiegel has a mindblowing piece of journalism from the Snowden documents about the illegal and immoral “death lists” the fascists create to murder people (including an allowance of up to ten innocent women and children per strike – they averaged about 4 a day, so they willfully and happily execute about 40 absolutely innocent women and children daily).

    The US decided they’d like to expand it from “terrrsts” to anyone they thought might be involved in drugs in any way, on the “logic” that the money from that trade could end up with the Taliban.

    Indeed these are fascists – and we are on their team, so trials in the Hague are likely in future for Australians.

    To tie it in to the topic at hand, a quote from the article:

    The classified documents could now have legal repercussions. The human rights organization Reprieve is weighing legal action against the British government. Reprieve believes it is especially relevant that the lists include Pakistanis who were located in Pakistan. “The British government has repeatedly stated that it is not pursuing targets in Pakistan and not doing air strikes on Pakistani territory,” says Reprieve attorney Jennifer Gibson. The documents, she notes, also show that the “war on terror” was virtually conflated with the “war on drugs.” “This is both new and extremely legally troubling,” says Gibson.

  51. @Donald Oats

    [stupid moderation, I’ll try again]

    To my mind, even more concerning is the abuse of the fundamentally sacrosanct lawyer-client privilege. We cannot have a functioning justice system if we are willing to let that be abused in the name of “security”.

    What was the famous quote? “Those who would trade liberty for security will lose both, and deserve neither.”

    Der Spiegel (no link thanks to Stasi moderation system, but it can easily be found by searching: secret-docs-reveal-dubious-details-of-targeted-killings-in-afghanistan) has a mindblowing piece of journalism from the Snowden documents about the illegal and immoral “death lists” the fascists create to murder people (including an allowance of up to ten innocent women and children per strike – they averaged about 4 a day, so they willfully and happily execute about 40 absolutely innocent women and children daily).

    The US decided they’d like to expand it from “terrrsts” to anyone they thought might be involved in dr^gs in any way, on the “logic” that the money from that trade could end up with the Taliban.

    Indeed these are fascists – and we are on their team, so trials in the Hague are likely in future for Australians.

    To tie it in to the topic at hand, a quote from the article:

    The classified documents could now have legal repercussions. The human rights organization Reprieve is weighing legal action against the British government. Reprieve believes it is especially relevant that the lists include Pakistanis who were located in Pakistan. “The British government has repeatedly stated that it is not pursuing targets in Pakistan and not doing air strikes on Pakistani territory,” says Reprieve attorney Jennifer Gibson. The documents, she notes, also show that the “war on terror” was virtually conflated with the “war on dr^gs.” “This is both new and extremely legally troubling,” says Gibson.

  52. @Megan

    I find it easy to believe that the success rate of experienced trained police negotiators in ending sieges without injuries is high, but I find it hard to believe that it is 100%.

  53. @Megan

    So I’m not sure what conclusion (if any) about the Martin Place siege you think is supported by the statement that experienced trained police negotiators have a high rate of success in ending sieges without injuries.

    If it could be established that experienced trained police negotiators have a 100% success rate in ending sieges without injuries, that by itself would be sufficient to establish the further conclusion that the police could have ended the Martin Place siege without injuries.

    But if the success rate of experienced trained police negotiators in ending sieges without injuries, although high, falls short of 100%, then it’s not established that it was within the power of the police to end the Martin Place siege without injuries.

  54. Initially the Channel 7 guy that sat next to the police sniper in their studio opposite ,filming the ending from there, said there were 90 shots fired in 30 seconds. I havent heard any ch7 repeat of that claim since.

    Christmas provided a wonderful juxtaposition – jubilant gluttonous gloating over how many billions we spent on ourselves v’s cancelling our foreign aid .They wonder why sometimes people hit back.

  55. Since this (Lindt Cafe siege) has now been labelled an incident of “terrorism”, wouldn’t the various new secrecy laws apply? I wouldn’t be surprised if we never find out what actually happened. Anyone reporting anything could get 5 years in jail.

    Overall, I find it very strange that this fellow, with his “colourful” history, is not on the police radar and then suddenly shows up with an unlicenced weapon and holds hostages. In spite of the (presumably known) fact that he is armed with a weapon of limited capacity, the siege then ends in a blaze of gunfire from military weapons and stun grenades, reminiscent of blockbuster Hollywood movies, with three people dead and others wounded. Bizarre actually.

  56. Regarding the bail for the good Mr. Lakhvi, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the judge is simply following the law. Mr. Lakhvi is not a flight risk as his continued attendance at the court would have been guaranteed by leading members of the Pakistan ruling elite. Furthermore his activities and alleged crime cannot in any way be considered as harmful to society in Pakistan. Why incarcerate the poor fellow?

  57. Re the Lindt siege and deaths – there is clearly a cover up. The official ‘investigation’ wikk be conducted in house, by bureaucrats who will make recommendations and it has been weeks since the terrorist incident (he was mentally ill, yes, but being mentally ill doesn’t take away from the shooter’s capacity to commit an act of political terrorism) without a single word to the public from any of the survivors. I’m guessing that they’ve been slapped with some sort of prohibition about speaking out under anti-terrorist legislation.

    We are entitled to full disclosure, and soon.

  58. @jungney

    If an internal police investigation of a shooting by police is a cover-up, then it’s a kind of cover-up that happens routinely, not something that’s a special exception just for this case. I’m not clear on what kind of alternative (if any) you’re recommending. This is not a case where a normal procedure of investigation by an outside body is being avoided, it’s a case where there is no outside body that normally carries on that kind of investigation.

  59. @J-D
    According to an ABC site that I won’t link because of Das Automod the review announced by Abbot is thus:

    The review will be carried out by senior bureaucrats at the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Prime Minister and Cabinet and will report back by the end of January.

    In the same article it was declared:

    The NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police and the NSW State Coroner will hold separate investigations into the siege.

    And if you think that any of those reviews will disclose truth then … I am undone for words lest I be offensive. Think Mick Keelty and the spooks discouraging refugees from arriving in Australia by boat, the major thrust of which appears to be by collaborating in sinking those boats at sea.

    I’ll take an informed punt here and wager that the same sorts of geniuses who were behind the By of Pigs, the Hilton bombing and so many other idiotic f*ckups as anyone has the time and patience to enumerate, are wll and likely to have a hand in the sh*t that happened in Martin Place.

    The whole thing stinks.

  60. If I might add: What is the difference between Mr Lakhvi and Mr Obama? Both of them are alleged to have plotted (and allegedly been complicit in) the killing of persons in another country. If anyone can tell me what the difference is, I will be happy to be corrected.

  61. If it is the case that there will be separate investigations by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the other Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (there are two? maybe it’s a joint Commonwealth-State review and somebody at the ABC meant to write ‘the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Premier and Cabinet’?), by the NSW Police, by the Australian Federal Police, and by the NSW Coroner, then that’s more scrutiny than there would normally be in the case of a police shooting, not less.

    I’m not against more scrutiny. I’m in favour of more scrutiny, and in favour of external scrutiny. On general principles I think that police activities should be subject to critical external scrutiny, and on general principles I think that police activities are probably not subjected to as much critical external scrutiny as they should be. But there’s no reason apparent yet for more suspicion of the police in this case specifically than should apply generally.

  62. @J-D

    But there’s no reason apparent yet for more suspicion of the police in this case specifically than should apply generally.

    Than “should apply generally”. In relation to what? Black deaths in custody? Trails of bloated reffo corpses in the Northern seas? Street level police executions in NSW, Qld and Vic?

    You have some sort of faith in state forces to rat themselves out?

    I don’t.

  63. @jungney

    Hmmm. Is there an institutional problem with the cops? Or is it just bad apples? As a rule of thumb, I trust the police to do their job, but not to do it without fear or favour. Now that I’m older, they will discriminate in my favour, which is nice.

  64. @John Brookes

    “Now that I’m older, they will discriminate in my favour, which is nice.”

    Lucky you! Try being black, brown or from any other category of the public that regularly “comes to the attention of the police” (e.g. dissenters, the poor or lower socio-economic kids).

    “Is there an institutional problem with the cops? Or is it just bad apples?”

    It’s institutional, it’s not even confined to Australia – but we have plenty of examples:

    The Victorian police force has avoided a trial over claims that its officers commonly resort to racial profiling.

    An undertaking to investigate the allegations was given to help settle a case brought by six young men of African descent.

    They claimed they were regularly stopped, searched, questioned and even beaten by police just because they were black.

    Maki Isse, who is originally from Somalia, says the outcome is particularly sweet.

    “I was pretty much stopped almost every second day for just riding the train or walking through the streets of Flemington,” he said.

    “Yes we are happy with the results, because this is a starting point to improve policing in Victoria, not just for our community but for the wider Victorian community.”

    The case against several police officers and the state began about five years ago after the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre in Melbourne’s inner suburbs became increasingly concerned about the dozens of complaints it was receiving from young African men.

    They alleged police were stopping them for unwarranted searches and questioning.

    There were also allegations of assault, including an assault in detention.

    Tamar Hopkins, a solicitor at the centre, said it was the first time a race discrimination case had gone all the way to the Federal Court.

    “Never before have the police been put under this kind of spotlight, their practices, their procedures,” she said.

    “It’s quite extraordinary.

    “Cases like this, on the other hand, are very common in other parts of the world but until now Australian police have escaped from the level of scrutiny that they’ve needed in this area.”

    Throughout the case, Victoria Police consistently denied it engages in racial profiling.

    It said the young men involved in the case were stopped and questioned for legitimate reasons and that excessive force was never used.

    But as part of today’s settlement, Victoria Police acknowledged that any policing involving racial discrimination was unacceptable.

    [that extract is from an ABC story from early 2013]

    There are definitely a few “good” apples. But they are institutionally the exception, the “bad” apples are far more protected by the system than are the “good” ones.

    Senior Sergeant Hurley, who killed Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004, has been promoted and received more than a million dollars in “compensation”.

  65. I cannot fathom for the life of me why that comment went to eternal moderation.

    No links, no ridiculously excluded words that I know of.

    Maybe it will clear censorship at some stage???

    Great to have all this “freedom” and “democracy” isn’t it?

  66. OK, sorry – I’ve worked it out. It was the African country which must not be mentioned.

    Take 2:

    @John Brookes

    “Now that I’m older, they will discriminate in my favour, which is nice.”

    Lucky you! Try being black, brown or from any other category of the public that regularly “comes to the attention of the police” (e.g. dissenters, the poor or lower socio-economic kids).

    “Is there an institutional problem with the cops? Or is it just bad apples?”

    It’s institutional, it’s not even confined to Australia – but we have plenty of examples:

    The Victorian police force has avoided a trial over claims that its officers commonly resort to racial profiling.

    An undertaking to investigate the allegations was given to help settle a case brought by six young men of African descent.

    They claimed they were regularly stopped, searched, questioned and even beaten by police just because they were black.

    Maki Isse, who is originally from S*m*lia, says the outcome is particularly sweet.

    “I was pretty much stopped almost every second day for just riding the train or walking through the streets of Flemington,” he said.

    “Yes we are happy with the results, because this is a starting point to improve policing in Victoria, not just for our community but for the wider Victorian community.”

    The case against several police officers and the state began about five years ago after the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre in Melbourne’s inner suburbs became increasingly concerned about the dozens of complaints it was receiving from young African men.

    They alleged police were stopping them for unwarranted searches and questioning.

    There were also allegations of assault, including an assault in detention.

    Tamar Hopkins, a solicitor at the centre, said it was the first time a race discrimination case had gone all the way to the Federal Court.

    “Never before have the police been put under this kind of spotlight, their practices, their procedures,” she said.

    “It’s quite extraordinary.

    “Cases like this, on the other hand, are very common in other parts of the world but until now Australian police have escaped from the level of scrutiny that they’ve needed in this area.”

    Throughout the case, Victoria Police consistently denied it engages in racial profiling.

    It said the young men involved in the case were stopped and questioned for legitimate reasons and that excessive force was never used.

    But as part of today’s settlement, Victoria Police acknowledged that any policing involving racial discrimination was unacceptable.

    [that extract is from an ABC story from early 2013 – emphasis added]

    There are definitely a few “good” apples. But they are institutionally the exception, the “bad” apples are far more protected by the system than are the “good” ones.

    Senior Sergeant Hurley, who killed Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004, has been promoted and received more than a million dollars in “compensation”.

  67. @faustusnotes
    All I know is that until the witnesses are interviewed, that being the hostages, and the police involved in the actual response (and other people as well, but principally the hostages and the police), there’s little point in speculating as to what happened and why. I’ll wait for the report. I’m most definitely not putting forward any theory, and especially not one as you have described.

  68. I can’t see how anyone could possibly read into the discussion so far that anybody suggests “the police intended to kill the hostages”.

    The possibility that police were careless as to the deadly consequences of their actions, perhaps. But not “intended”.

    There is plenty of room for speculation. There is also room for discussion about the known facts.

    As I’ve said, I watched the last hour or so live on TV. So there are some things we know:

    1. Ambulances, about 20 or so, began rolling into the area near Martin Place shortly before the shooting began – the media filmed/broadcast this and reported it at the time.

    2. The police went in with guns blazing and “stun grenades” flying.

    3. The manufacturers of “stun grenades” warn that their use, especially in confined spaces such as rooms, can cause heart failure.

    4. The Barrister died of heart failure, not gunshot wounds – in fact there is no suggestion that she had any gunshot wounds at all.

    5. Therefore, at least one person most likely died at the hands of the police – two if we assume that they also killed the hostage taker Monis.

    6. The café manager also died and several other people were injured as a result of gunfire.

    7. Monis was known, all day long, to have been armed with a shotgun – and several hostages had escaped over the previous hours who would have confirmed that to police.

    There was a military style raid at about 2am (just in time for a gory News Ltd front page to be printed and wrapped around the next day’s paper- which happened).

    Expert police negotiators don’t give commands. They do their job and report to their superiors, but every tactical decision is made higher up. Therefore, regardless of whether any negotiators were involved in the situation, the decision to go in with guns and grenades blazing was taken at a higher level.

    As I’ve already said, I believe that this situation could have been resolved – as so many others have been previously – without any deaths or injuries through experienced professional police negotiators. That of course is speculation, because the establishment media and authorities are blanketing out information, as they so often do.

  69. The police chief claimed. “Well, at this stage I understand there were a number of gunshots that were heard which caused officers to move to an EA, an emergency action plan, and that caused them to enter.”

    Thus the police claim (as officially as we have it at this stage) is that a weapon was fired inside first “a number” of times.

    The police assault, as near as I can judge it now, after viewing more footage, involved at least 40 or 50 shots. And the footage shows at least three flash grenades being thrown inside during the assault. The room was in darkness, lit only by the flashes of guns and flash grenades. Was a firm visual on the target possible in these conditions? Were more than silhouettes visible? If the shots had been well aimed at the known target, would more than 5 to 10 shots have been required to bring down the target? Why were 40 to 50 shots at least fired? Were the police uncertain of the target and firing wildly?

    There should be a Royal Commission into all aspects of this assault.

  70. @jungney

    What I wrote was that I think the activities of the police should be subject to critical external scrutiny and that they probably aren’t subject to sufficient critical external scrutiny. That’s the opposite of your suggestion that I have faith in the police. Why would you want to misrepresent me in that way?

  71. @Megan

    What is the basis for your belief that this situation could have been resolved by experienced professional police negotiators without any deaths or injuries?

  72. @Ikonoclast

    What is the general principle underlying your view that there should be a Royal Commission in this case? For example, is it your view that there should be a Royal Commission into every incident in which shots are fired by police and people are killed?

  73. @J-D

    Yes, it is certainly the case that Australia needs a Royal Commission into the rate of deaths caused by police in this country today. It is certainly the case that Australia also needs a Royal Commission into t-rist policing powers in this country.

    The general principle underlying my view is that every civilian death in Australia caused an act of human commission ought to be mandatorily tried before jury as a possible case of manslaughter or murder. This would include all deaths caused by police as an act of commission in the official line of duty.

    Is that clear enough for you?

  74. Pr Q said:

    Obviously, these decisions were neither aberrational nor the product of a legal system divorced from any social context. Rather, they reflect deeply ingrained views in the societies from which they emerged.

    The Parable of the Young Man and the Old

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned, both of them together,
    Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
    Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    And builded parapets the trenches there,
    And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    Wilfred Owen 1920

  75. As to the barbarous slaughter of children in Pakistan, a diligent search threw this up at OpenDemocracy:

    …the Taliban have used the element of barbarity as part of a larger effort to destabilize the Pakistani military by attacking their families directly. Children and teachers with military backgrounds were singled out, either to be burnt alive or decapitated. By hitting at the military’s soft underbelly through a dastardly attack inside the garrisoned city of Peshawar, Taliban militants confronted the military leadership with a situation in which retaliation is inevitable as the only option.

    I hope that advances understanding.

  76. @Ikonoclast

    You suggested that there should be a Royal Commission relating specifically to the Martin Place siege. I asked you whether this was based on the general principle that there should be a Royal Commission into every similar incident. Now you suggest a Royal Commission into the rate of deaths caused by the police. One Royal Commission into the general phenomenon of deaths caused by the police is not the same thing as a separate Royal Commission into each incident in which deaths are caused by the police; which are you advocating, or is it both?

    As the law stands it is not the case that every instance in which one person is killed by the act of another constitutes a crime, and that’s as it should be. As the law stands, it is not the case that every instance in which one person is killed by the act of another must proceed to a jury trial; in some cases a magistrate decides at a committal hearing that there is not enough evidence to justify a jury trial; in some cases a prosecutor decides that there is not enough evidence to bring charges; it would be a mistake to eliminate all such possibilities in favour of jury trials in every case.

  77. @J-D

    Truth. You deliberately nitpick to annoy people. My substantive views were plain and they substantively answered your question. Of course, you were free to agree or disagree with my susbstantive points. Instead you chose mainly to nitpick. You do this to almost every other commenter too. Clearly, your intention is to nitpick to annoy and then you are gratified when you get the angry response you desire. Pettifog means to quibble about petty points. You do this do troll for angry responses. So, identifying you as a pettifogging troller is accurate.

    You put out three baits in a row to three different people. I was the fool who got hooked: more fool me.

    You made an interesting point on the debate about MMT. I thought there was hope for you to rise above your pettifogging. Clearly I was wrong.

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  79. In Peachtree City in the US, the Chief of Police managed to shoot his wife while sleeping with a gun in his bed. Assuming that it was not intentional, then we have a Chief of Police who decided to sleep with his 9mm Glock service pistol in bed with him. This is a pistol that has no external safeties. This means that if the trigger is pulled and there is a round in the chamber the gun will fire. So the Chief of Police apparently decided to sleep with a loaded pistol in his bed, with a bullet in the chamber, with a weapon that is the type that will fire if the trigger is pulled. So a person who has gone through police training, had years of police experience, and was deemed mature and responsible enough to be made Chief of Police for a city of 34,000 people, decided to engage in an activity that anyone with even a modicum of gun safety knowledge would know was completely reckless.

    It appears that in the US even the best of the best can perform the stupidest of stupidities. But I should not single out Americans because we are all decended from the same hominid stock and we all instrinsically stupid when it comes to assessing risk. For most people it takes a lot of training to overcome this. But it appears to me that the culture in America fails to prepare people to sensibly analyse the cost/benefit ratio of private gun ownership. Perhaps they need an, “If you sleep with a gun you’re a bloody idiot,” campaign.

    Now it is possible that this event wasn’t an accident but was actually an attempted murder. But in that case we’ve just gone from US Police Chiefs can’t be trusted to carry out basic gun safety to prevent innocent people being shot, to US Police Chiefs cannot be trusted to not use their guns to attempt to murder family members. In either case it displays the disutility of letting Police Chiefs keep loaded pistols in their homes.

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