The Berlin Street Market Killings: Reactionary legislation solves hardly anything

December 23, 2016

In the wake of the Berlin market truck killings, some voices are calling for the Schengen open borders policy in the European Union to be scrapped.  This is understandable on a visceral level – Anis Amri, a man who had been on terrorist watch lists, had apparently driven freely all over the Schengen area both before and after the killings – he had managed to travel over 1,000 miles around Europe in spite of an arrest warrant, and he was finally caught and slain by police in Milan, Italy; so he had successfully travelled from Germany to Italy while he was a high-profile murder suspect.  But scrapping the Schengen agreement because of the Amri case would be an example of reactionary legislation that would achieve very little but would pose problems for millions of law-abiding citizens.  Maybe trucks should be banned too?  After all, Amri used one to commit his crimes.

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Anis Amri, the Berlin truck murderer killed by police in Italy

It reminds me of the reactionary gun laws passed in Britain because of “lone gunman” cases: for instance, the Hungerford massacre when Michael Ryan used assault rifles to murder 16 people in 1987 led to a ban on automatic weapons; and the Dunblane atrocity when Thomas Hamilton entered the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and used pistols to murder 15 children and their teacher caused the government to ban virtually all handguns as well as firearms such as hunting rifles.

These two UK examples of sweeping gun control reform after single atrocities have probably saved few, if any lives.  The assault rifles used by Ryan were extremely rare in any case, and the Dunblane massacre was down to insufficient vetting of Hamilton more than the law that allowed properly-vetted individuals to buy pistols for recreation or competition shooting; because of the post-Dunblane legislation, members of the 2012 British Olympic shooting teams were unable to train in Britain, and £42 million had to be spent on special facilities where the shooting events could take place, at Woolwich Royal Artillery Barracks – facilities that were demolished after the Games. Shooting sports bodies and some politicians argued that the money would have been better spent on the lasting legacy that would be gained by refurbishing and upgrading permanent facilities at the National Shooting Centre at Bisley, which would have cost a maximum of £30 million, and which would allow British competitive sports shooting teams to practice on home soil.

The ultimate irony of these reactionary legislations is that only law-abiding citizens are affected by the laws.  Criminals who want assault rifles or handguns can buy them anyway, on the black market, where they do not have to possess licences.  Any change to the Schengen agreement would have the same effect: stopping countless citizens to move freely in the European zone because of one evil man’s actions.  It is an erosion of rights similar to those we have seen in the USA – except of course in the States guns and bullets are trivial to buy.


Sgt Blackman is a murderer! Fact!! (Not any more…)

December 12, 2016

UPDATE: Alexander Blackman’s murder conviction has been quashed, replaced with a conviction for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.   So he’s not a murderer any more.  He’s a guy who shot an unarmed, badly wounded man, on purpose, but was ill at the time.  I don’t know how much difference that makes to the dead guy, but it means Blackman will be freed from jail much sooner than thought previously.

If you read the Guardian’s article on his appeal, check out the video: at the end you can clearly hear Blackman telling his comrades not to tell anyone about the shooting as it contravened the Geneva Convention.  Blackman knew the shooting was wrong just seconds after doing it.  Makes me think maybe he knew it was wrong when he helped the insurgent “shuffle off this mortal coil” (Blackman’s own words, also on the Guardian video).  But it wasn’t murder.  And that’s the main thing.  Right?

Marine Sergeant Blackman shot and killed a “fatally wounded” insurgent on a Britiah base in Afghanistan in 2011.  He was convicted of murder by a court martial and jailed accordingly. But now he’s up for appeal, and the usual suspects (Britain’s right-wing press, military big-wigs etc) are calling for him to be bailed until the appeal hearing. Also on his side is thriller author Frederick Forsyth, whoo donated a staggering £800,000 to his legal fund

Major General Holmes, who was director of all UK special forces, has offered a £50,000 guarantee for Sgt Blackman’s bail application lodged at the weekend.

He said: “I have supported Sgt Blackman’s cause since the outset.
“I am more than happy to help stand his bail so he can be reunited with his family.”

Even the judge at Sgt Blackman’s court martial said his offence is not one he would have committed at home – as if that makes any difference.  Many killers do their murdering away from home. And people are saying he is a man of integrity!

sgt-alexander-blackman

Sgt Blackman – who was known as “Marine A” at his court martial – is believed to be the only known British serviceman ever convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield.

A few facts.  The insurgent was wounded – “fatally wounded” according to the press, notice the quotation marks that make it clear this “fatally wounded” description is not an official description but just the spin the papers are putting on the story.  No doubt Blackman would have said he was putting the guy “out of his misery”.  But assisted suicide is illegal.  If I helped a loved one commit suicide, I would be convicted of murder and sent to prison for life.  If I “helped” an enemy to die, my life sentence would be considerably worse.

But because Blackman’s a “hero”, he can “help” people to commit suicide and near as damn it get away scot free?

Even when he was convicted of the murder, he was told he would serve just 10 years in prison – later reduced to 8 years.  This for killing a man who was on a British base, badly wounded, unarmed and posing no threat to anyone.

“But he was a terrorist,” I hear you cry.  “He deserved it.”

Well guess what.  To Al-Qaeda and ISIS, Western forces are terrorists and crusaders.  I’m not debating the rights and wrongs of that particular issue.  As far as I’m concerned, killing people you don’t know is wrong.  But it is especially wrong to laud this sergeant as a hero and try to get him out of jail.

Apparently his conviction may be changed to one of manslaughter due to “diminished responsibility”.  So we’re meant to believe he didn’t know what he was doing when he killed the badly wounded insurgent.  Even though he has previously said he did know what he was doing – putting the guy out of his misery.

Ex-SAS chief Major General Holmes is willing to offer £50,000 guarantee that, if Blackman is bailed, he will not do a runner.  If he gets bail, he’ll be “home for Christmas”; and the appeal won’t be heard until next summer or autumn – this convicted murderer will be out on the streets for 9 months, while other killers appealing against conviction stay locked up.  A great many murderers appeal.  Nearly all stay in prison until their appeal is heard.

A judge said this killing wouldn’t have happened if Blackman was at home.  I should hope not!  Surely Blackman doesn’t have firearms at home?

At best, Blackman’s actions could be viewed as “assisted suicide”.  And “assisted suicide” is classed as murder.  If a loving wife goes to jail for murder when she helps her terminally ill husband end it all, why should Blackman get special treatment for killing a stranger whom he hated?

When British forces go to war, there are rules of engagement.  Blackman ignored these rules and slew a helpless man.  If we are going to have laws, they must be applied equally, to everyone. Anything else is anarchy, which people keep telling me is the worst thing ever.

No bail for Blackman.  No change of conviction, charge, no reduction in sentence.  Blackman was a soldier, yes, but what he did was murder.

 


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