Once again, in the United States we have learned of a gunman shooting and killing strangers for no known reason. It is horrifying that anyone would do such a thing and even more mystifying as to why. It was again a young male-- 18 this time. It could be a woman, but it has not been. Women generally only plot and kill someone they know which is no less horrifying.
We want to tell ourselves we can stay safe from this kind of mindless violence, but the truth is nobody can. This appears to have been an upscale mall. I have been in such places; so have you. Across America, every single town has them. There is no way for police to be everywhere instantly, no way for the average citizen to protect themselves when someone starts methodically killing. In some of these malls, the narrow corridors, the interesting little nooks become a way for a killer to rapidly move through many people with others oblivious to the approaching danger.
Some countries have strict gun control laws, but it often hasn't protected them either from these kinds of tragedies. Almost everywhere in the world allows shotguns for hunting. Nobody permits them to be taken into a city and fired.
This will probably shock some of you, and I understand why you might not agree, but the gun control I favor is more states permitting concealed weapons leading to more responsible, trained citizens carrying guns.
Yes, I understand the problems attached to it. What if a citizen fires carelessly? That's where training and classes come in. I understand the police don't like the idea either. They do not even want shop owners carrying a gun. They didn't want pilots to have them, Police don't like it because of the risks of careless shooting; but also when an incident occurs, they do not want to wonder who is the bad guy. It isn't what anybody really wants, but what is a better solution to random violence? If more of those in the Salt Lake City mall had carried a weapon, been trained, less people might have been killed. The one who stopped the killer, long enough for the rest of the police to arrive, was an armed, off-duty policeman-- definitely someone who qualifies as a hero given he was just out for an early Valentine's Day celebration with his wife.
I understand the fear some have about guns. They are dangerous. I grew up with them, got my first .22 at 12 years old, and learned how to shoot safely. I have never lived in a home without guns, taught my children about them when they were little, and practice responsible gun ownership. While I have no fear of guns, I do have a healthy respect for them. Some have asked me but could you shoot a person? I wouldn't want to. Nobody does, but if I wasn't sure I could, in a dangerous situation, I would not have one. A gun to wave around impresses nobody who seriously is intending you harm and in the end will only get you in trouble.
Some years back, I filed for a concealed weapon permit, pretty nearly as soon as they were permitted in my state. I took a class to get it, had to certify I was mentally sound, answer questions about my background, supply references, be finger-printed, and pay my fee. Recently at the end of 2006, I went back for new photographs for the third time since that initial application. I rarely carry that gun as it was mostly intended for hiking in cougar country where I didn't want a holster to be visible; but if our nation sees more times like this last week, I might buy a bigger purse.
No gun control law that has ever been proposed would have stopped the gunman in Salt Lake City, and the first people he killed could not have been saved; but if there had been someone armed in that mall, more might have been saved. And if there had been nobody armed there, a lot more would have been hurt.
Right now, I don't know of anyway to stop what happened in Salt Lake City and Pennsylvania. I don't know any system that would let us figure out who these people are in time. But I do think an armed citizenry might slow it down and in some cases stop a killer. Yes, there are complications to having citizens armed, but more and more states are recognizing that sometimes what we don't like is what we need. What is the alternative? Be shot like sheep? Stay home? None of those sound feasible or possible.
I am not suggesting this is a solution to random, senseless violence. If anyone else has any of their own thoughts on why someone does such a thing or how we can find these people before they pull the trigger, I'd be delighted to hear their thoughts. What happened this week was not only frightening but sorrowful as it hurts us all-- it literally could be any of us.