In memoriam: Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims & our demented gun politics in the U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

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May their souls and all souls of the departed, through the mercy of their Maker, rest in peace, and may those injured recover well.

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The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/nyregion/gunman-kills-20-children-at-school-in-connecticut-28-dead-in-all.html?pagewanted=3&_r=0&partner=rss&emc=rss

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http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20121215__GRIEF_AND_frustration_Shocking_rampage_resurrects_gun-control_debate_.html?id=183612551

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Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control advocacy group, said it was too early to say whether the Newtown massacre would yield different political results from previous mass shootings, including the attack that nearly took the life of a member of Congress, Gabri­elle Giffords of Arizona.

But she said she believes it would for two reasons: The victims were children, which has elicited a gut-wrenching response across the country, and the National Rifle Association proved to be a political paper tiger in the 2012 election.

David Chipman, a former special agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who is now a consultant to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said he believed the shooting was “a game changer.”

In Colorado, a state that was rocked by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the Aurora movie theater shooting, Friday’s massacre renewed debate over why mass shootings keep occurring and whether gun control can stop them.

“Until we get our acts together and stop making these … weapons available, this is going to keep happening,” said an angry Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the theater shooting.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-automatic_firearm

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http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/stateleg/scorecard/2011/2011_Brady_Campaign_State_Scorecard_Rankings.pdf

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STATE RANKINGS [toughest gun control laws]

1 CALIFORNIA 81

 

4 Stars

 

2 NEW JERSEY 72

3 MASSACHUSETTS 65

4 NEW YORK 62

 

3 Stars

 

5 CONNECTICUT 58

6 HAWAII 50

7 MARYLAND 45

8 RHODE ISLAND 44

9 ILLINOIS 35

 

2 Stars

 

10 PENNSYLVANIA 26

11 MICHIGAN 25

12 NORTH CAROLINA 16

T15

COLORADO 15

T15

OREGON 15

T15

WASHINGTON 15

 

1 Star

 

T17

ALABAMA 14

T17

MINNESOTA 14

18 DELAWARE 13

19 VIRGINIA 12

T22

GEORGIA 8

T22

SOUTH CAROLINA 8

T22

TENNESSEE 8

T25

IOWA 7

T25

MAINE 7

T25

OHIO 7

T27

NEW HAMPSHIRE 6

T27

VERMONT 6

T29

NEBRASKA 5

T29

NEVADA 5

T39

ARKANSAS 4

T39

INDIANA 4

T39

KANSAS 4

T39

MISSISSIPPI 4

T39

MISSOURI 4

T39

NEW MEXICO 4

T39

SOUTH DAKOTA 4

T39

TEXAS 4

T39

WEST VIRGINIA 4

T39

WYOMING 4

T41

FLORIDA 3

T41

WISCONSIN 3

T47

IDAHO 2

T47

KENTUCKY 2

T47

LOUISIANA 2

T47

MONTANA 2

T47

NORTH DAKOTA 2

T47

OKLAHOMA 2

T50

ALASKA 0

T50

ARIZONA 0

T50

UTAH 0

Legal Community Against Violence’s web site and reports were the primary sources used

for determining points awarded for each state. Visit http://www.lcav.org

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_States

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law_in_the_United_States

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Hawaii

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I had a military marksman rating 40 years ago, so I know about the power of a firearm.    

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http://firearmusernetwork.com/2010/09/08/marksmanship-classification-qualification/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/mass-shooting-psychology-spree-killers_n_2331236.html?utm_hp_ref=science

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Mass Shooting Psychology: Spree Killers Have Consistent Profile, Research Shows

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After the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week, people seem to be asking the same questions: What kind of person could open fire on innocent children? Why do such incidents keep happening? And what can we do to prevent such crimes?

We may never know what spurred the man who killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, and whether he could have been stopped.

But psychologists have created profiles of mass shooters, and many common themes — and even warning signs — emerge.

“In most cases, there’s a long trail leading up to the actual act of violence,” said Peter Langman, a psychologist in Allenton, Penn., who has studied mass shooters.

Yet despite a list of red flags, psychologists say, it is maddeningly difficult to separate the next school shooter from the millions of other disaffected students who may never go on to kill.

“There are certainly a lot of people who have a lot of things go wrong, and they’re not committing mass murders,” said Mary Muscari, a forensic nurse at Binghamton University in New York who has researched mass killers. “Even when you look at mental illness, most people with mental illness are not violent,” Muscari told LiveScience in July after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater killings.

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Profile of a shooter

Many mass shootings are motivated by revenge or envy. That’s why many take place at a school or a workplace where shooters felt rejected, said Tony Farrenkopf, a forensic psychologist in Portland, Ore., who has created psychological profiles of mass shooters.

In addition, killers often exhibit risk factors that are generally tied to criminality: a history of abuse or ineffective parenting, a tendency to set fires or hurt animals, a sadistic streak, and self-centeredness and a lack of compassion.

“To most of us, children are beautiful little creatures that we love,” Farrenkopf told LiveScience. “So why would someone target them?”

In order to kill innocent little children, it’s possible the killer lacked compassion or empathy for them, instead seeing them as symbols of something he wanted to obliterate, Langman said.

School shooters often harbor anger and paranoid delusions, have low self-esteem and hang out with an outcast group, Farrenkopf said. And there is usually a triggering event — either a lost job or a falling out with a girlfriend — that finally makes them snap, he said. [10 Surprising Facts About the Teen Brain]

They also tend to be obsessed with guns, violent video games or movies.

In retrospect, investigators uncover warning signs, such as trying to recruit a peer or writing hateful stories, Langman told LiveScience.

“In many cases, students actually come out and say exactly what they’re going to do: ‘I’m going to come back with a gun and kill all of you,'” Langman said.

Toxic culture

Overwhelmingly, mass shooters are men, Langman said. That’s no surprise when you consider their self-professed motives, he said.

“These kids often feel very powerless. The one way they can feel like they’re somebody, that they’re a man, is to get a gun and kill people.”

Our culture and media (such as violent movies and video games) only reinforce the notion that manhood is about attaining power, and social and sexual status. Violence is glorified as a way to get that power, he said.

“There is that cultural script that a lot of kids are very influenced by. We don’t have a lot of alternative cultural scripts for males in terms of popular media,” he said. [The History of Human Aggression]

Society doesn’t necessarily teach constructive ways to deal with depression and disappointment, either. And we provide very little to support to people at risk before they become violent, Farrenkopf said.

Each mass shooting also holds the potential to spawn others, because other would-be shooters see stories about the crimes in the newspaper, and may want to emulate them, Farrenkopf said.

No crystal ball

Despite a fairly consistent profile, psychologists can’t predict who will kill. Millions of people will feel disaffected and vengeful, and may even lack empathy, but the vast majority would never shoot defenseless, 6-year-old children, Langman said.

And if fascination with violent media and guns were predictive, the average ninth-grade boy could be considered at risk.

“It’s only these kids who are really fundamentally struggling with their own identities,” he said. “Those really vulnerable kids who are the ones who will take a movie or video game that 10 million other kids would watch and play and take as a guide for how to live their lives.”

Even so, psychologists stress the importance of preventing these massacres before they happen. One step in that direction might be to help the kids who do feel the burden of social isolation and feelings of insignificance, regardless of whether they will ever snap.

“It’s not so much to catch shooters, because we know that’s very difficult, but actually to address very widespread problems that reach millions of kids,” Katherine Newman, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told LiveScience in July.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/people-need-help-identifying-treacheries-of-evil-63472777.html

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People need help identifying treacheries of evil

This is how evil works. By the time you recognize it as evil, it’s often too late. Evil requires our consent and our participation, but the subtle part is that we often are unaware of how we’ve given our consent, or even that we are participating.

Which is why we need help. Why it’s dangerous to journey alone. Why it’s so important to be dynamically related to healthy communities of friends, family, and, for some people, religious ways of life.

Throughout the history of humankind, all significant cultures have identified people who have particular gifts in “testing the spirits,” individuals whose calling it is to “name things.” The shaman, the medicine man, the priest, the prophet — they come by many names, in many forms, and wielding the symbols particular to their time and place and religion. But whether they shake beads or toss holy water, their job was the same: to help us distinguish light as light, and darkness as darkness. Truth as truth, and lies as lies.

Is there someone in your life that fits this description? See their face in your mind, and give thanks.

Because evil hunts as a pack of wolves. It jostles and worries the herd until an individual panics, and veers away alone. From that moment, it’s over. The battle is lost. It’s only a matter of time.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/failure-to-trust-own-knowledge-instincts-can-lead-to-catastrophe-59930647.html

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Failure to trust own knowledge, instincts can lead to catastrophe

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The Brothers Grimm were Jakob and Wilhelm, German born in the later 1700s, and best known for publishing fairy tales such as “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel” and “The Frog Prince.”

The Brothers Grimm are sometimes criticized for being, well, grim.

See, children suffer in these fairy tales at the hands of cruel parents and witches and sometimes the teeth of wild animals. Sometimes the children are rescued by fairy godmothers and other assorted providence. Sometimes they escape to freedom by their own wits and resourcefulness. Other times they don’t. Sometimes they die.

Just like in real life. Which is why I dig the Brothers Grimm. Classic fairy tales are so human. So real. And they do more than entertain. Classic fairy tales teach us, young and old alike. They ask us to look at ourselves and our culture.

Which brings me to “Little Red Riding Hood.” You remember …

Girl wearing a red cloak walks through the forest alone on the way to visit her sick grandmother. She meets a wolf that is hesitant to eat her in public. Decorum, don’t you know. The wolf suggests Red tarry to pick flowers for the visit, and takes advantage of the delay to get to Gramma’s house first.

Wolf eats Gramma. And then dons her nightgown and cap. Crawls into Gramma’s bed. And waits.

You know the drill. Little Red Riding Hood arrives, stares at this wolf wearing nightclothes and all she can think of to say is, “My, what big eyes you have!” And the wolf says, “All the better to see you with.” To which Red says, “What big ears you have!” You guessed it, “All the better to hear you with.”

Then the teeth. Red notices aloud that Gramma has really big sharp teeth, to which the wolf replies, “All the better to eat you with.” And so he does. Eat her. In the original tale, nobody comes to save Little Red Riding Hood. She gets eaten.

And she deserves to get eaten.

The classic “take” on Little Red Riding Hood is as a morality play about the dangers of naivete. But, I suggest that Little Red Riding Hood’s problems are far worse than that. Here’s the deeper question: Hey Red! What is it in you that keeps overriding your own senses! Keeps overriding your own experience.

It ain’t your grandmother! Run!

I’m thinking of buying several copies of “Little Red Riding Hood,” so I can have them on hand to give to patients in therapy. Especially female patients. I can’t explain why, but most therapists (including myself) will tell you they encounter a higher number of women than men who consistently don’t and won’t believe their own eyes, their own ears and their own felt experience, especially as it regards love relationships with wolves. Er, some men.

I once knew a woman who walked into her own master bedroom to find, in her marital bed, her husband and another woman. Naked. And, two months later, she was still mulling the veracity of the husband’s story that they didn’t have sex and that, while it was “probably inappropriate,” well, he was just trying to comfort the woman who’d had a bad time recently.

A part of the Little Red Riding Hood Syndrome in men and women actually speaks highly of us. Lots of times the phenomenon is fueled by our own inherent goodness. We like giving people the benefit of the doubt. We like extending good faith to people, especially the ones who have pledged to love us and whom we love in return. We value forgiveness. And, when firmly grounded in self-respect and a radical commitment to reality at all cost, these attributes are good things.

But sometimes we clutch and grab at these virtues rather than wield them from a place of strength. I’m saying that a part of why we might override obvious reality is because our own virtues have turned against us.

Pride is another part. We don’t want to believe that we have chosen badly. We don’t want to believe that our beloved is shallow, mean, insensitive or capable of calculated betrayal. It’s embarrassing to extend your heart to someone, then too late discover that this someone is not who they seemed to be. And, if it serves them, they will discard you. Disdain you. Or even gobble you up.

But what Little Red Riding Hood lacks the most is faith in herself and sufficient self-respect to act on that faith. And I don’t think these things can be taught. They must instead be risked. Or not.

It’s not Gramma. It’s a wolf.

“When people show you who they really are, believe them.” — Maya Angelou

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Our incomprehensible NRA & its PR disaster    —

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Some immediately reacted by calling the conference a public relations disaster in which LaPierre seemed despairingly out of touch.

‘There will be time, later, to tick off the litany of factual errors and logical missteps in LaPierre’s speech, such as the notion that a single armed security officer would have stood much of a chance against an assailant with a high-powered assault rifle and two semiautomatic pistols, but for now, it is worth noting that while LaPierre’s reaction was completely predictable, he didn’t have to do it now.,’ wrote Mediaite, a blog covering politics and entertainment in the media industry. ‘He didn’t have to do it today, exactly one week after the nation first began to learn of the tragedy, at this time, when the echoes of a moment of silence in Newtown still hung in the spiritual air. This was an act of defiance, and it will result in punishment for anyone who stands with LaPierre going forward.’

Slate called the press conference, ‘unhinged’ and reported that LaPierre’s proposal to put armed security in every school would cost approximately $5.5 billion.

The New York Daily News called him a ‘mad gunman’ giving a ‘wild rant’ disguised as a speech.

Especially mocked was NRA president Dave Keene’s somewhat contradictory statement to reporters: ‘This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2251762/NRA-statement-Sandy-Hook-shooting-Wayne-LaPierres-astonishing-response-calls-guns.html#ixzz2FifwLti5

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From Apocalypse to Dystopia

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Wayne LaPierre and his fellow N.R.A. officials have hunkered down to wait for the “emotional period” or “hysteria,” as they call it, to pass.

They defend anyone owning anything with a trigger, reiterating that military-style semiautomatics are just uglier hunting guns.

While there were more heartbreaking funerals in Newtown, Conn., with long hearses carrying small bodies, LaPierre stepped to the microphone in Washington on Friday to present the latest variation of his Orwellian creed: Guns don’t kill people. Media kill people.

“Rather than face their own moral failings,” he said in high dudgeon, “the media demonize gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws, and fill the national media with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action, and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.”

So it’s our fault.

LaPierre, who literally trembles when the omnipotent gun lobby is under siege, went ballistic painting a threatening picture of the dystopia that awaits if we don’t protect our schools from guns by putting guns in schools.

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He kicked around the old whipping boy, violent video games, even though plenty of his four million members no doubt play violent video games. And he repeated his old saw: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Guns don’t kill people. Guns save people.

The press conference, where the press was not allowed to ask questions, played like an insane parody: a tightly wound lobbyist who earns a million or so a year by refusing to make the slightest concession on gun safety, despite repeated slaughters by deranged shooters with jaw-droppingly easy access to firearms.

LaPierre makes Charlton Heston look like Michael Moore. The N.R.A. vice president, who once called federal agents “jackbooted government thugs,” insists the solution to gun violence is putting police officers, or “armed good guys,” in every one of the nation’s 98,817 K-12 schools.

His logic is spurious. Hunters can have their guns without leaving Americans so vulnerable to being hunted by demented souls with assault rifles that can fire 45 rounds per minute.

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It’s hard to believe that the N.R.A. needed to go dark for a week after the Newtown shootings to cook up such a chuckleheaded arms race. And LaPierre made a worse case against himself than the media ever could. It’s shocking that the N.R.A. can’t even fake it better.

It didn’t try to mask its obdurate stance by putting forth a less harsh official — a woman who’s a mother and a hunter, for instance. Maybe it could have prompted a serious discussion about armed guards at schools if it had a less crazed presentation and less of an absolute vision that “guns are cool,” as David Keene, its president, says.

The 63-year-old LaPierre and the 67-year-old Keene, a cantankerous former Bob Dole adviser whose son went to prison for shooting at another driver in a road-rage fit, seemed as out-of-touch as Mitt Romney’s campaign and the rest of the white, macho Republican Party.

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/explanations-fail-to-explain-what-happened-in-newtown-184599551.html

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After another spree killing, we’re left, again, to wonder why

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Oh, we try. Ambiguity is so cruelly uncomfortable, we’ll do anything to explain it away.

The word “pathetic,” in modern distortions of devolving parlance, is a put-down. A derision. “Our defense was pathetic,” a football fan might bemoan. “You’re pathetic,” an angry wife might say to her unfaithful husband.

But “pathetic,” in its literal meaning, comes from the Greek word pathos. To enter the pathos is to surrender to all that is tragic, absurd, lost, despairing, meaningless. The word “pathetic” is not a derision; it’s an observation. For example, in the spring, after a windstorm, when I see a pink, pin-feathered sparrow blown from the nest into my yard, chirping for parents who will never come, waiting for starvation or the neighborhood cat, whichever comes first, I rightly call the doomed bird’s chirps “pathetic.”

Pathetic – like how I was pathetic when, at age 5, I broke my grandmother’s knickknack and tried to mend it with Scotch tape before she got home so she wouldn’t be disappointed in me.

Pathetic is a word used to describe understandable, in some cases dear, but nonetheless futile attempts to dodge the pathos.

That said: Watching and listening to us (and “us” includes me) in the aftermath of the spree killing at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., leaves me shaking my head. Many of our reactions and words are … pathetic.

■ “Things like this happen because the media is at fault for publishing the names of spree killers.” Oh, dear one. Imagine a paranoid schizophrenic. He’s pondering and planning a spree killing. But then, he says to himself: “Damn! I was gonna do that, but now that they’ve stopped publishing our names and photos. It just isn’t worth it.”

Seem likely?

■ “Things like this happen because they’ve taken religion and prayer out of schools.” Oh, dear one. Think of the prayers that surely swelled out of the bowels of Auschwitz. Dachau. Treblinka. Would you agree with me that, while those prayers were vital to the pilgrims who prayed them, the prayers did nothing to make the pilgrims less vulnerable to evil? Or, think of Jesus, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asks God, point blank, to get him off the hook. The prayer doesn’t spare him. The most urgent, faithful religious practice does not protect us from suffering. Prayer is not a talisman. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust, the same.”

■ “Adam Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.” I have never seen, read or heard about a diagnostic, let alone causal relationship between Asperger’s syndrome and violence.

■ “It’s those video games!” Oh, dear one. Think of all the times my generation watched Elmer Fudd blow Daffy Duck’s bill off with a shotgun. I grew up on horror movies. My sons, 21 and 19, love “Call of Duty.” Perhaps an indulgent (aka waste of) their time, but, why am I confident they are not being shaped into murderers?

There has always been evil. Always been darkness. Suffering. Always been mentally ill people. But spree killing is a pathology unique to our time. And we’re kidding ourselves if we think any of the “explanations” explain

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http://www.lvrj.com/living/after-another-spree-killing-we-re-left-again-to-wonder-why-164174716.html

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Aug. 1, 1966. Charles Whitman barricaded himself in a clock tower on the University of Texas campus and began shooting. He killed 16 people, wounding 32 others. If you were born during the last of the baby boomers like me, then you remember this as your first memory of a spree killer, though we hadn’t yet coined the term. It was unprecedented. A bizarre, random, once-in-a-lifetime nightmare. It had never happened before. And it seemed unthinkable that it could ever happen again.

And now, like everyone, my soul trembles as I watch my television and read the Net about Aurora, Colo. James Holmes? I’m angry, but I might as well be angry at a sheep.

Last Sunday, I was reading E.J. Montini, my favorite columnist in the Arizona Republic. His research told me of 22 spree killings in the past 13 years, if you start counting from Columbine. That’s 1.69 spree killings per year. I’m guessing I have a lot of company when I tell you that I was stunned by this statistic. I was a little depressed to think I had managed to “normalize” spree killings in such a way that I lost count of the events.

Yes, there has always been evil in this beautiful-but-broken world. But, I’m thinking more and more that this particular sickness is unique to our current version of the modern, Western civilization human experience. I make myself imagine: In, say, 1432, in a tavern in Verona, Italy, did a patron ever simply rise from his grog, draw his sword and start hacking random customers to death? I don’t think so.

A colleague hears my fantasy rhetorical question, and points out that everyone else in the tavern would have been “packing steel,” too. If a late Middle Ages spree killer had begun such a rampage, the other folks in the bar would have put a stop to it forthwith. He’s got a point. But my speculation remains: Spree killers are unique to this time, place and culture.

Another colleague wonders aloud to me about what particularly is going in “the masculine.” Meaning, are there systemic and cultural factors effectively “breeding” this kind of sickness in occasional men? My first thought was to notice that I know of no spree killer who was female. My next thought was, if I assemble a mental list of the worst of “the masculine” – violence, aggression, runaway testosterone, misogyny, machismo, narcissism, bullying – well, such men do engender a lot of pain and chaos in the world. Not to mention they are jerks. But they are not spree shooters. Which is not to say that my colleague is not onto something. Only to say that I can’t immediately put my finger on an argument why the phenomenon of spree killers is on the radical rise.

Still another friend says there has always been this kind of pathology in the world, but that the ready availability of guns creates an opportunity for this form of “crazy” that simply wasn’t the same when we wielded only swords, knives, arrows, axes and clubs. Still not buying it. Not counting the Colonial days of flintlocks, ready ownership of modern guns (revolvers, repeating rifles) has been around since the Old West. Certainly in the first half of the 1900s. But no spree killers.

No, this is happening to us now. And, for me, a large part of the terror of it is not being able to explain it.

My most pressing thought is how I keep seeing those men and women who strap on dynamite vests and take a bus ride in Jerusalem. When those events have happened, I have often quaked at what must be an unspeakable despair. What else could explain such a blithe, random and calculated evil? But, even this argument breaks down. James Holmes a terrorist? Nope. Terrorists have political agendas.

Ever hear Harry Chapin’s song “Sniper”? It was written about Charles Whitman, and the UT shooting. It’s an utterly creepy interpretation of this madness. Spree killers possess an unspeakable rage. Spree killers no longer know they exist, yet they insist on being seen and heard.

How do I know I exist?/ Are you listening to me?/ The first words he spoke took the town by surprise/ One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye/ I will be, I will be, I will be.

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Society will decide how much it will tolerate guns
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QUESTION:

Referring to your excellent column in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and the “knee-jerk” reactions, I have a few questions, and those are:

1. Have we taken leave of our collective senses?

2. How are we going to evaluate every American to find those who may be mentally imbalanced?

3. Are we going to require every gun dealer to have a degree in psychology or psychiatry?

4. How are we going to regulate or control several hundred thousand guns already out there? Yes, we can ban the sale of “assault” weapons.

5. What do we do about the unknown number of those already out there?

6. Do we really need to follow through on the utterly ludicrous idea of arming teachers?

Personally, I think we need to take a deep breath and put our brains in gear and begin a process called objective thinking. I have no answers to the above questions (nor do I think any others have), but I do have a possible solution, at least (as far as) safety at schools is concerned.

We spend thousands of dollars fencing and gating hundreds of private communities, military bases, etc. Why not treat schools as communities, which they most certainly are? Put an 8-foot-high chain-link fence around them along with a gate and an armed uniformed guard or two.

We have a few here in Hawaii, such as Kamehameha and our college campuses. You don’t get in unless you have legitimate reason to do so! – R.B., Hilo, Hawaii

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Answer:

Great questions! I’ll take them as read.

1. I would more say that we tend not to engage our keenest critical thinking when we’re collectively wrought with despair, helplessness and high emotion. But your point is made. Yes is the answer.

2. Of course, we’re not going to evaluate every American, not to mention there is no evaluation modality that could pinpoint and in every case predict mental imbalance and the potential for violence. But we can insist on a background check for every buyer of every gun. Even private resales. And we can legislate stiff penalties for people who violate these rules.

3. No. The gun dealers will simply enforce the rules.

4. We’re not going to control the guns already out there, except as regards No. 2 above. If you own a gun – any type of gun – it will have a registration number, just like every car. If you want to sell your varmint shotgun to the neighbor, then you are required to document this transfer and the required background checks.

5. There is nothing we can do about assault weapons already in private hands unless we want to declare what amounts to martial law on assault weapons. I don’t want to do that. But again, we can ask that every weapon be registered.

6. Sheesh, I hope not. Truly can’t even imagine it. A student’s college degree in education including field trips to the range for firearms training! Or worse, a bunch of kindergarten teachers carrying sidearms without training! Frankly, even if a teacher wanted to carry a concealed weapon, say, at a high school known for inner-city violence, I insist the chances of that teacher being overpowered by thugs and having the gun used against him/her and the surrounding students are much greater than the chances of that teacher successfully warding off a spree killer.

As for fencing and gating, here’s a fact about civilization: Social beings collectively decide what risks to risk and what risks to mitigate. Our reasoning is not always consistent or even clear. For example, we’re much more willing (that is, “OK with”) dying in car crashes than we are dying in plane crashes. We’re much more willing to be injured or killed by a domestic dog than we are a shark. See, we attribute to plane crashes and sharks a particular kind of horror. Security “wands” me or even pats me down as I enter Lambeau Field to see the Packers. But I can come and go at Walmart as I please.

There is death and mayhem we can imagine. There is death and mayhem unimaginable and therefore intolerable.

The Newtown, Conn., shootings crossed a line like that, I believe because of the age (read: innocence) of the victims. To put it crassly, I’m “OK with” taking my middle-age self to the mall and risking the chance of this being the day a spree killer is at the same mall. I’m not so cavalier about asking a kindergartner to take that same risk at school. The latter connotes a particular kind of horror that the former does not.

So I tend to agree with your thinking. I think we will collectively decide to be very intentional about the architecture of new elementary and high schools and perhaps to redesign and refurbish the architecture of existing schools. I think we will build them more like prisons. But I don’t think we’ll decide to do this for colleges. Again, the not exactly conscious issue will be “innocence.”

 
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