Monday, October 20, 2014

Massad Ayoob and the Lethality Hierarchy Myth

I somehow managed to completely lose the post from yesterday.  I don't remember what I wrote.

Here's the link.

A portrayals of firearms in the media are misleading:

We live in a world where the entertainment media and the news media alike have demonized the firearm as a frightening, high-efficiency killing machine. A myth has arisen that I call “hierarchy of lethality.” It is the false belief that the firearm represents the nuclear level of hand-held weaponry, and is somehow more lethal than other deadly weapons.

Ayoob then discusses other lethal weapons, including vehicles, knives, and blunt instruments:

A knife never jams. A knife never runs out of ammunition; you rarely see a gunshot murder victim who has been shot more than a few times, but any homicide investigator can tell you how common it is for the victim of a knife murder to bear twenty, thirty, or more stab and/or slash wounds. “A knife comes with a built-in silencer.” Knives are cheap, and can be bought anywhere; ... There is no prohibition at law against a knife being sold to a convicted felon. Knives can be small and flat and amazingly easy to conceal. 

 ... Many common tools and other objects have rough, irregular edges which are conducive to shattering bones and splitting flesh. The common claw hammer is a particularly deadly murder weapon. In blows to the head, it often punches completely through the skull wall and into the soft, vulnerable brain tissue beneath. Hammer murderers have told in their confessions how the hammer became stuck inside the victim’s skull so deeply that they had to step or even stomp on the head to break the hammer free for the next blow.

The knife, the club, the naked fist -- these are the weapons of the larger, the stronger, the younger, the quicker against the smaller, weaker, and the more vulnerable.  They are the weapons of the gang against the individual, of the stealthy against the unsuspecting.  The firearm is not wielded so much for its greater lethality as for its ability to equalize.

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