Posts Tagged ‘Columbine’

It happened again today, a psychotic man with a gun went on a rampage and killed several people.  There have been previous incidents, more shocking perhaps.  Columbine and Virginia Tech come to mind.  Remember the D.C. snipers a few years ago that terrorized that area?  The more I think about it, the more I realize that far from being unusual, this type of behavior happens all the type. People, who we think are stable and happy, suddenly just go out and run amok and kill people.

It’s interesting that the word “amok” is one of the very few words that has made it into the English language from the Malay language (now called Bahasa Malaysia).  People run amok in Malaysia too, except they tend to do so with parangs rather than guns because private ownership of guns is essentially outlawed in Malaysia.  The parang, a very big knife, sort of the same thing as a machete, is the usual weapon of choice and those men (they always seem to be men rather than women) who run amok typically choose a crowded village location to suddenly lash out at everyone in sight.  The person who runs amok will continue to try to kill everyone he encounters until he is subdued or killed by the villagers.  It is behavior that is not too different from our American psychos, except that the damage is usually less severe because parangs just can’t compete with guns when it comes to killing people.

Malaysia, and a lot of other countries, has dealt with the threat to the general population from psychos with guns by banning gun ownership and then strictly enforcing the ban.  The penalty for illegal ownership of a gun, or even a bullet, in Malaysia is death.  Same with Singapore.  The result is that you can walk the streets at night in Kuala Lumpur and feel a lot safer there than you would in New York City or Philadelphia or Washington D.C.

We are faced with a severe problem, a threat to public safety, that time has shown we are incapable of addressing effectively.  Despite countless massacres and loss of life, we have been unable to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of psychos.  We have also been unable to find an effective way to protect the people from psychos with guns.  The question is why?  Why is it that so many other countries are able to deal with this problem effectively and we can’t?  It seems to me that the reason is fear: fear that unless we have our guns we won’t be safe, especially from all the psychos who have guns.

Despite all the arguments made by those who favor gun ownership, our Constitution gives only one, single, justification for owning guns: the need for a militia.  Over the years this has been interpreted as guaranteeing the right to own guns even though the individual is not a member of any militia at all.  Gun ownership in the U.S. is pretty much a right enjoyed by anyone who feels the need for one (or more).  Yet, the most outspoken advocates of gun ownership, like the NRA, have never produced a viable solution for our very serious problem. What do we do to protect ourselves from psychos with guns?

Malaysia, the land that invented running amok and killing people, has solved the problem, but their solution is not acceptable for many Americans.  OK.  So what is the solution? How do we prevent future Columbines and Virginia Techs?  How do we prevent future attacks such as the one that happened today in a crowded gym? Why is the gun lobby silent on this issue? Why doesn’t the NRA come forward and present a solution that will keep us safe? It seems to me that those who are the most strident, adamant, and vocal about preserving their Constitutional right to bear arms also have a moral obligation to find a way to protect the lives of the unarmed and  innocent men, women, and children from the apparently limitless supply of psychos with guns in America.

So why the silence?

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