A group of murderous rioters went on a rampage in the western region of Xinjiant, China, leaving a total body count of 27 after the dust had settled. Chinese reports state that the mob targeted police stations, government buildings, and construction sites. The group allegedly set fires and stabbed bystanders, killing 9 police officers or security officials and 8 other civilians. The rampage finally ended when the police shot 10 of the assailants.
China has some of the strongest gun control laws in the world, with police officers and military officials being the only people allowed to carry firearms. Some people are allowed to own guns for hunting, but the concept of concealed handguns is completely foreign in China.
Gun rights advocates have pointed to the incident as an example of the failure of gun control policies. Philip Hodges of Godfather Politics writes, “In the case of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, they weren’t going to stop until they were physically forced to stop. And the only way to stop a mob of knife-wielding maniacs is to shoot them with a gun.”
Of course, it’s also necessary to consider the type of devastation that these rioters would have caused if they’d had access to guns. Adam Lanza killed 28 people by himself during the Sandy Hook shooting spree, which exceeds the death toll in China even after including the 10 rioters who were gunned down. What would the death toll have been if the rioters had used guns instead of knives?
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There were 31,000 homicides in China in 2006, which is a murder rate of 2.39 for every 100,000 citizens. That same source states that the United States had a murder rate of 5.61 during 2006.
Removing guns from a society clearly doesn’t stop mass murders from occuring, but it does inarguably make it harder for citizens to kill other citizens. This is a double edged sword – gun control makes it harder for criminals to go on rampages, and it makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.
Which is better: a society where everybody can get guns, or a society where no one can get guns?