The terrible massacres in Norway (currently the casualties are estimated at almost a hundred) lead to a few observations from my side:
– Soft targets are what terrorists attack. This is not new and has been clear since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 at the latest. The attacker knows for sure that his victims are neither ready nor specially protected and that they are not able to defend themselves (they do not shoot back). This guarantees the most efficient results, and the attacker(s) may well get away with it. In addition, the media and propaganda effect is multiplied. Attacking and killing military personnel is by far less shocking than a massacre on a civilian population: everybody identifies with the victims. In such situations, the right immediate reaction (if there is any “right” reaction) must be to avoid any place where many people gather. As soon as you learn from an attack somewhere near you, you should leave town, leave vital spots of interest (like concerts, sporting grounds, train stations, crowded streets, etc). Go by foot if possible (avoid train stations), but do leave immediately, for if there is a second attack it will strike where there are many civilians.
– While the attacks in Norway were a monstrous and unjustifiable crime, the perpetrator’s apparent motivation does point at some very serious and possibly legitimate issues. It was obviously directed against the modern Norwegian state. More and more, western “developed” states interfere with their citizens’ privacy. Taxes keep rising in order to fund redistributive policies and corrupt governments, new laws are enacted each year which tell us what to do and (more so) what not to do, freedom of speech is under assault in the in the name of political correctness, gun control laws are passed in order to disarm law-abiding citizens while additional police state measures are enacted everywhere in the name of “security”, etc. These states can create immense frustration among individuals who do not benefit from the system. Thus such attacks will be seen more and more in the course of the 21st century. Of course there are parallels with the infamous 1995 Oklahoma City bombing committed by Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh wanted to take revenge for the massacres perpetrated by the US government (especially FBI and BATF) at Ruby Ridge (1992) and in Waco (1993). In both cases the author was a “right-wing” extremist who targeted his government and who accepted a large number of innocent victims as collateral damage. There is of course no way to justify such despicable acts. Targeting innocent civilians (especially youths and children) is never acceptable and it is obvious that the responsible persons must be severely punished. Nevertheless, both McVeigh’s and Berwick’s concerns are/were somewhat understandable. Ruby Ridge and Waco could well be qualified as mass murderers committed by the US government and nobody amongst that government had to take responsibility for these acts. Berwick too appears to be claiming to fight against a socialist and invasive government. And indeed: There is currently a deep problem with western governments who invade peoples’ private lives more and more through ever-new prohibitions and high taxation. After the grief in Norway, not only should the responsible persons stand trial and be punished, but the ever-growing size of bureaucracies to the expense of personal freedom should be called into question. I fear though that the official response across Europe will be the true opposite: more government and higher taxes, more (anti-gun) laws, more restrictions on video games, more incitements to denounce one’s neighbors, more police in ninja suits and black ski masks and large guns (which they are free to carry of course, contrary to normal civilians).
– The problem is not too many guns owned by criminals, but too few guns owned by honest civilians. As discussed, there will always (and more and more) be people who are willing to and capable of perpetrating such massacres and they are looking for maximal body count. Through gun control laws, western governments see that the victims of such attacks are disarmed and helpless, like livestock waiting at the slaughterhouse. The victims will not shoot back and the terrorists know that. The police needed almost two hours (!) to intervene on the island of Utøya. In other words, gun control laws have the victims be disarmed while they wait (and hide) for two hours until rescue arrives. I suspect Norwegian gun laws to already be heavily restrictive. This in itself is a crime, directly committed by government. Had only three or four of the hundreds of people on the island been carrying guns, there would obviously have been fewer casualties. Leftists will respond that this point of view is ridiculous and that I am advocating some sort John Wayne cowboy shooting on an island with hundreds of innocent bystanders. Yet, what the pacifistic leftists in turn are advocating is a situation where the shooting still occurs, but only in one direction, and with obviously much more dead people. These pacifist leftists are morally co-responsible for such carnages. Law-abiding civilians will always have to rely on themselves to face such attacks. The role of the police will always be to count the dead afterwards and maybe to arrest the murderers. Why not let the people take care of themselves and assure their own protection?