That's why I go on living my life getting the timing of most things I say and do wrong as often as possible. Just the other day, right here in this blog, I announced that I was a loner. Could I have timed it any better? Just a few hours later a young man with serious problems in his life decides to drive those problems home to the world through the barrel of a gun, or two. We are led to believe that that young man was a loner.
Great! Just when I thought that the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, Thomas Hamilton and nutjobs just like them had been long enough buried 6 feet under the ground and it was safe to come out without fingers pointing and voices screaming 'Loner - Danger, Danger! Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!'
I mean for crying out loud surely the issue that he was a loner had very little to do with it when compared to the fact that he had problems in his life that no-one had been able to help him with. Or maybe the fact that it was so easy for him to get hold of not just one gun but two. The fact that the gun shop owner asked him via a question on a form whether he had mental health issues and was able to accept that the answer 'no' was adequate without any independent verification. That's a bit like internet sites that ask for the verification of age, any determined 17 year old can say yes to the 'Are you 18?' question.
Now personally I think that anyone who wishes to own a gun, handle a gun or have anything whatsoever to do with a gun should be instantly declared to be unfit to be within a 1000 mile radius of a gun. But that belief of mine might be a generalisation and unfair. The gun lobby of America would definitely think so.
But then when people start to forget the names and faces of the victims that same gun lobby will probably blame violence on TV, the internet, computer games and in songs, the fact the killer was enraged and of unstable mind and a loner and all manner of things, anything but the fact that the ease of gun ownership led to unnecessary deaths. It's true that guns on their own do not kill people, people kill people. But before the invention of guns, people were not designed to shoot people.
I read this week that the FBI estimates that there are 200 million guns in circulation in America. After reading that it amazed me that there haven't been more shootings in American campuses that there have been. Even then I can't help thinking that if guns were harder to come by deaths of students would be rarer still. Perhaps if the only weapon that the young man had been able to get a hold of was a kitchen knife he and his victims would still be alive today. I can't help thinking that if anyone saw him wandering along campus with a sharp blade whilst in an enraged state that people would have either ran away from him or perhaps banded together in order to tackle him to the ground and make him drop his potentially lethal weapon. Yes, even with a knife he could conceivably kill all his intended victims but the likelihood is that killing with a knife would have taken longer than with bullets. Three unarmed men stepping forward to play the hero against someone holding a gun in their hand may as well paint target signs on their chest first. Whereas three unarmed men stepping forward to tackle someone with a knife in their hand may well be crazy but there is a slightly better chance, whilst risking their own life, that they may be able to prevent the deaths of others.
Surely America has outgrown the frontier stage of its development and the right to bear arms for protection is no longer required. Guns may well have prevented attacks from 'savages armed with bow and arrow' but when the enemy was able to get guns just as easily as the man trying to protect his family I think the preventative value of having those guns may have became null and void.
After this tragedy what I'd like to see is those who own a gun giving up those old fashioned viewpoints and taking those guns somewhere that they could be melted down and owners of gun shops shutting up and finding new employment. Timing is everything, it would be a fitting tribute to the fallen. Sadly I don't see it happening.