Another Finnish School Shooting

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For the second time in less than a year, a gunman has open-fired on a classroom in Finland, killing 11 students and himself. The (London) Times has details:

The student, identified as Matti Saari, a 22-year-old trainee chef, walked into the catering and tourism college in the remote western town of Kauhajoki at about 11am (0800GMT) and started firing at both fellow students and staff.

Some 90 minutes later he turned the gun on himself, but survived and died of his injuries five hours later in a hospital bed. The initial death toll was put at nine, but police later updated it to 10 [Note: The tally in the Finnish press is now at 11], not counting the killer.

It was Finland's second school massacre in under a year and left the country in a state of shock. The YouTube connection—Saari posted a number of handgun videos on the site—bore disturbing echoes of the tragedy last November when an 18-year-old high school student killed eight people after posting a "massacre manifesto" on the video-sharing site.

The Finnish newswire STT/FNB reports that Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen "says that it is clear that the school massacre in Kauhajoku will provoke reform in [Finland's] gun laws," and that "reform of gun laws became a more pressing issue after the EU Commission released a new firearm directive in July." According to the Finnish daily HBL, police officials are also adamant "that a more effective surveillance of the Internet is needed." "We perform a certain level of the surveillance," police commissioner Tero Haapala told the paper, "but our resources are limited in trying to find all of the threats before they are carried out." After viewing YouTube videos of the gunman on a shooting range and making oblique threats ("You're next"), local police questioned the gunman on Monday but "saw no reason to suspend his temporary gun license," according to HBL.

Various reason writers on previous school shootings.

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  1. Don’t the Scandinavian countries have high suicide numbers?

  2. There were fewer Finnish school shootings when Virginia Postrel was editing Reason.

  3. Obviously we need all guns to have an electronic chip in them required for firing, but that can be disabled in certain environments. That assumes, of course, that the government would never issue a wide-area disable order for nefarious purposes. Shit, I should have kept my mouth shut.

  4. You make interesting proposition, John-David. We will start work on it immediately.

  5. Polk Community College and University of South Florida – Lakeland (I refuse to dignify that campus, which is shared with PCC by calling it USF Polytechnic, as they attempt to rebrand themselves) canceled classes yesterday in response to a threatened shooting. Students were notified using the school’s new emergency text messaging system. All students at all USF campuses received a text message (if their info was in the system) that classes had been canceled.

    http://www.abcactionnews.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=44248d21-af6e-428e-a41c-ea770d007dd7

  6. it is clear that the school massacre in Kauhajoku will provoke reform in [Finland’s] gun laws

    Right, because laws prevent psychotic people from killing. They work particularly well for serial killers, which is why we’ve never heard of any.

    “If that log was trying to rob the place, you totally would have killed it!”

  7. If the guy was baker acted by authorities, I don’t understand why classes were canceled. And if the classes needed to be canceled due to the danger, why was staff permitted on campus?

  8. Most mornings I drop my boy at his bus stop and continue on out into the hinterlands with my dogs to take a morning constitutional. Since we have coyotes, snakes, and feral dogs, I generally bring something along to give me an edge in case my dogs get into it with a pack of feral dogs.

    That said, my boy was inquiring about the legality of bringing an edge anywhere near the school bus or bus stop this morning. Seventh grade, but he knows which way the wind blows.

    He’s also smart enough at 12 to realize and comprehend that a law preventing bringing an edge to a bus stop is unlikely to have any effect whatsoever on some bad guy who wants to do harm to a bus full of school kids.

    Smart kid.

    Preaching to the choir regards, TWC

  9. It sounds like the cops hassled him then he went and shot people.

    Lesson: cops shouldn’t harass people.

  10. More surveillance of the internet. Hmm… I’ll just let that stand on its own.

  11. Don’t the Scandinavian countries have high suicide numbers?

    Finland does, the others not so much. Finland is even competing with eastern Europe on that front.

    JB

    The cops hassled him because he posted videos on youtube waving a gun around and declaring he was going to kill random people.
    Pretty good reason to hassle somebody, especially since the same thing happen not even a year ago.

  12. I guess he got the catering and tourism college confused with a Finnishing school.

  13. The Finnish news wire STT/FNB reports that Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen “says that it is clear that the school massacre in Kauhajoku will provoke reform in [Finland’s] gun laws,” and that “reform of gun laws became a more pressing issue after the EU Commission released a new firearm directive in July.”

    Sure, since the Finland government, as many other European countries, is SO lax when it comes to gun regulation.

    As with the current meltdown, charlatans and the clueless call in sync for MORE hobbling regulation, like those doctors of yore that prescribed even more blood letting to “cure” the patient…

  14. Pretty good reason to hassle somebody [posting a video in youtube.com in which he’s waving a gun and threatening to kill randomly], especially since the same thing happen not even a year ago.

    Uh, yeah.

    “Any excuse will serve the Tyrant.” Aesop.

    And even so, the police failed to protect the people from being shot by this guy. Talk about tyranny AND incompetence.

  15. This doesn’t worry me at all. Since I come from a long line of blue collar and peasant stock, finishing school is just not appropriate. Though when you consider the demographics of fininsing schools,

    private school[s] for men or women that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities.

    it is surprising.

  16. I take it the killer was a Muslim. I mean there’s some reason Moynihan found this worth mentioning without any analysis of its significance, right?

  17. “It was Finland’s second school massacre in under a year and left the country in a state of shock.”

    Just a continuation of the…the Bush-McCain policies, um, that have been, um, hurtin’ people for the last eight years.

  18. “reform of gun laws became a more pressing issue after the EU Commission released a new firearm directive in July.”

    When Guns are outlawed, only mentallyill Finnish Culinary students will have guns.

  19. TWC-

    Lakeland isn’t known for its brain trust, let’s just say.

  20. So are they just NOW getting our violent video games that cause people to do this kind of thing?

  21. I was wondering if you were going to cover this.

    A minor detail: the “you’re next” video was posted on the morning of the shooting, and the videos the police interview was based on were just him walking and shooting around the shooting range (violating safety regulations but no threats).

    “Sure, since the Finland government, as many other European countries, is SO lax when it comes to gun regulation.”

    I don’t know why I can be bothered with sharing easily googlable information, but Finland does have lax gun regulations and lax enforcement of the current ones. Compared to a lot of the world anyway. The population is 5 million and there are 1.6 million guns.

    Gun laws don’t reduce crime or violence in general, but I have to admit that the Finnish school shooters wouldn’t have been able to take so many people with them without access to legal weapons.

    At this point, most people are not too concerned with the gun laws, but are calling for more resources for the public mental health care system.

    Regards,
    your Finnish reader.

  22. Instead of fluoridating the water in Finland, they should put prozac in it. Problem solved.

  23. There’s a lot I like about H&R. The thing I like least is how posters’ biggest concern after a mass murder is the effect on gun rights. I guess the human rights of the 10 dead people pale in comparison to our precious 2nd Amendment.

  24. Sean,
    That’s the way I feel about the human rights of the hundreds of people shot in the UK this year.

    I guess since guns are already illegal there, it’s not big news…

  25. John-David,

    When it’s illegal to have a non-security-chipped gun, only criminals will have non-sec-chipped guns.

    And probably radio frequency emitters to block security guard’s guns as well….

  26. Sean,

    To be fair, a person can both feel bad about innocent people being killed and be concerned about gun rights.

  27. Sean Healy,

    A lot more than 10 people died in 1775 to get us our freedoms.

    There are many things that are much more important than 10 or 1000 lives. Yes it is a tragedy, and yes perpetrators should be prosecuted, but the freedom of millions should not be sacrificed. Or maybe the lives of many more than 10 will be sacrificed again to return those freedoms.

  28. Sean Healy, this is a political blog, not a grief counseling forum. If you want to mourn go to a church with all the other self-righteous meddlers.

  29. I have to admit that the Finnish school shooters wouldn’t have been able to take so many people with them without access to legal weapons.

    Even granting this, the only way to reduce access to legal weapons is a Brit-style ban ‘n’ seizure. Registration, etc. won’t do it.

  30. I have to admit that the Finnish school shooters wouldn’t have been able to take so many people with them without access to legal weapons.

    A quick check for stabbing and slashing killings in Japan shows this argument to be less well suported than it appears to be.

    Tomohiro Kato, 25, was arrested on suspicion of driving a two-ton, rented truck into the crowded Akihabara district, then jumping out and stabbing 17 bystanders, according to the Associated Press.

    Seven of them died.

    If you look you will find that this is not the only crime of its kind.

  31. So murder isn’t a civil rights issue worth talking about first after a mass murder. Got it.

  32. I know people have completed impressive killing sprees with knives and illegal weapons. Check out spreekilling.org for a ranking, along with merchandise for last nights killer. I meant to refer to these particular shooters, having just read Finnish gun rights discussions, where defenders wouldn’t admit that these two particular losers taking rescue from years of bullying wouldn’t have managed. And they came out as wonks, which definitely didn’t advance their cause.

    I think registration and background check can have an effect. At least the 1st Finnish school shooter shouldn’t have gotten a gun even with restrictions in place. For yesterday’s events, I think taking the gun back after the guy posted videos of himself violating safety rules (which I think he signed for his licence) would have been quite acceptable.

  33. Spreekillers.org for the link in my last message.

  34. Sean Healy | September 24, 2008, 1:54pm | #
    So murder isn’t a civil rights issue worth talking about first after a mass murder. Got it.

    Yep, the civil rights of the victims matter a lot. The perp is dead, if he weren’t he should be punished.

    So you think the rest of the populace should be punished for his actions?

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