President Obama made a moving statement from the White House Friday in reaction to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. The statement included this: “As a country, we have been through this too many times. … And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” Meaningful action. Yes, but what?
A young man in the Portland area, 22 years old, steals a rifle, puts on a mask and goes on a shooting spree at the Clackamas Town Center, killing two adults, wounding a teenager and then killing himself. In Connecticut, a 20-year-old shoots to death 20 little school children as well as six adults including his mother, then also kills himself. Earlier this year in Colorado, a guy, also in his 20s, shot up a movie theater with a rifle and then meekly submitted to arrest. In Tucson in 2010, another young man shot and gravely wounded a congresswoman and killed or injured several people with her at a public meeting. There were other such cases. If memory serves, all the shooters were young men. So what “meaningful action” could have prevented this?
Without guns, shootings would not happen. Killings would continue, though. In Philomath, a young foreign national enraged at his ex-girlfriend wanted to kill her but could not buy a gun, so he sharpened a kitchen knife and cut her throat, along with the throat of their baby. In Oklahoma City in 1995, it was a bomb made of fertilizer that killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured more than 680 others
The worst school massacre in U.S. history was the bombing of a school in Bath, Mich, in 1927, when 38 people including many children died in the building and another four in the blast of a truck bomb outside. So banning guns or ammunition, even if it were possible in the United States, would not end school massacres.
Who’s at fault in all these cases, and many others you can read about if you Google “school shootings”? The shooters and the bombers, that’s who. Some were motivated by revenge, some by being rejected as suitors. With others, it’s impossible to say. But in most cases they entered school buildings where they did not belong. Greater vigilance to keep outsiders — especially if wearing masks and carrying rifles — suggests itself as the only feasible response. (hh)