Talk...Talk...TalkAs soon as the wrenching pain of Blacksburg settles into a dull ache, there'll be plenty of hand-wringing over the largest shooting spree in America's history. In a national expression of grief-stricken rubbernecking we'll discuss gun control, security procedures, and the effect of violence in our culture. There'll probably even be a television movie and book by May.
It's not that these discussions aren't important. They're a way to scrub away a bit of the muck splashed upon all of us as we realize humans - despite what we like to think - are a curious, deeply-flawed breed. Despite all our good intentions and attempts to balance the needs and rights of the few against those of the many, someone comes along who simply refuses to be, well, civilized.
They might be dangerously psychotic or wound a bit too tight to cope with a marriage breakup or personal slight. Despite the fact I'm not a religious man, I'd say some are just pure evil. Shootings like the one at Virginia Tech are in a league of their own. The perpetrator wasn't some young, stupid punk who shot a clerk while holding up a Seven-Eleven. The perpetrators of shooting sprees are dangerously unhinged.
I've had plenty of experience dealing with the deeply psychotic and I have news for you - you can't stop them from doing what they're determined to do. Gun registration might slow a young punk down because he's not that determined anyway. If he was, he wouldn't be out robbing Seven-Elevens for $23 and a pack of Marlboro Lights. A waiting period might cool off a cuckolded spouse, but if he crosses the line from merely scorned spouse to psychotic killer, quick access to a gun matters little.
He's Not Just Your Bus Stop Raver
Psychotic people aren't always like the raving homeless guy at the bus stop. Sometimes, they're very difficult to detect. One moment they appear perfectly in control. The next, they're behind closed doors and alone with inner monsters who start making bloody plans and videotaping bizarre farewell speeches. Shooting spree psychotics are cunning and more determined than a Baghdad suicide bomber and that lethal combination makes them virtually unstoppable.
Strict gun control - even outright gun bans - won't slow them down. They can easily make bombs out of household chemicals or mow down people with their PT Cruiser. They're not choosy about method, only cunning about their opportunities. You can install metal detectors and they'll sneak in through a window. You can ban all violence on television, but they aren't swayed a bit by it. Their inner demons are calling the shots and it doesn't matter is the psychotic watches CSI or Sesame Street - the demons live by their rules alone.
Soon it'll be time for the pundits to crawl onto the talk shows, each convinced their idea is the end all, be all. There'll be more screaming than a Baghdad funeral, but the only change will be the hardening of us all as we try to escape the incessant 24x7 blather. There'll be little real change because there is little we can really do about it.
Or, be confused about why humans - however damaged - can do such things.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, April 16, 2007