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Friday, April 3, 2009

A String of Deadly Attacks

A string of attacks in the U.S. in the last month left 44 people dead in all. In addition to Friday's terrible shooting in Binghamton, New York, a gunman killed 10 people and himself in Samson, Alabama; shootings that began with a traffic stop in Oakland, California, left four police officers and the gunman dead; an apparent murder-suicide in Santa Clara, California, left six dead; and a gunman went on a rampage at a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina, killing seven elderly residents and a nurse who cared for them. Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker recently reported, "On a recent list of the fourteen worst mass shootings in Western democracies since the nineteen-sixties the United States claimed seven, and, just as important, no other country on the list has had a repeat performance as severe as the first." (April 30, 2007) Isn't making it more difficult to buy guns that kill people a rational way to reduce the number of people killed by guns? True, reducing the guns available to crazy people will not relieve them of insanity nor stop them from killing. Just as true, tighter controls on assault weapons and semi-automatic pistols do not guarantee people can't kill with rifles. But, Gopnik states the point of lawmaking is to act as comprehensively as possible, in order to prevent the next crime. Guns such as semi-automatic Glocks and Walthers are basically sold for killing people. Rifles and shotguns are typically used for hunting. Of course, others will argue that handguns are often used for self defense against criminals. To me, the problem lies with the crazy individual in possession of the deadly firearm. I know everyone is susceptible to being a target when a mass murderer attacks, but security needs to be the primary concern for all exposed to risk. Do companies, schools, businesses, and other institutions do enough planning and installations to thwart or limit mass murder? I am not putting needless blame on anyone; I am just suggesting a future, possibly better plan of action. Even in the face of a madman, somehow the craziness needs to be adequately contained. The murderer, bent on a high body count, needs to be arrested quickly or terminated upon first threat. How best to do this I do not know. As I think about the killer callously shooting at random targets, I wonder what contributes most to the horrible body count. Is it the weapon used in the attack, the lack of on site security, the lack of a plan of action for those on site, or the lack of defense measures to stop the intruder? Whatever the reason, we cannot return to a Wild West mentality. However, I think it is time to educate our citizens about the best methods to help prevent these heinous crimes as well as the best reactions to follow during victimization. And, we must apply this knowledge in the future.
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