Arizona tragedy: real solution is for people to come forward early

by Ken Ewing

Zachary Roth wrote a piece today in The Lookout that asked “Could tighter gun laws have saved lives in Tucson?” None of the other articles I’ve seen mentioned this level of anti-gun sentiment, even NPR, which (surprisingly) gave a very neutral treatment of the topic on the report I heard this morning.

In the immediacy of the tragedy, this topic is difficult to address. For example, it’s statistically correct that rampage shootings like this are in fact rare.  But would the public perceive this to be true?  Not likely.

The call for a renewed “assault weapon ban” is a red herring.  If you have two 15-round magazines or three 10-round magazines, it’s the same number of shots and they can be fired in effectively the same (small) amount of time.  Magazine restrictions would NOT limit rampage shooters like this.

The mental health issue is the hardest one to deal with.  We all want to restrict guns from mentally unstable people.

A very telling book on this subject is “No Right to Remain Silent: The Tragedy at Virginia Tech” written by Lucinda Roy, former chair of Virginia Tech’s English department.  Lucinda worked one-on-one with Seung-Hui Cho, the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter.  The book describes how institutional politics conspired to deny the obvious problems that Cho had.  The real key to addressing these terrible events is to have people who know the perpetrator come forward early when they see problems.  These things do not just happen out of the blue.

There are warning signs, usually big ones over a long period of time.  We just live in a society that would rather deny the obvious than face reality.