The main thing that struck me, going through the reports about this 18 year old kid who sniper-style murdered at least nine people in an Omaha mall today was this: it took police six whole, long minutes to get to the mall.
It was six minutes too late.
Just like Virginia Tech. Just like Columbine. Just like every single other act of random violence, there is no chance in hell to stop the mayhem with a policeman in a car six minutes down the road. The people in the colleges, schools, malls, hospitals, churches, everywhere are sitting ducks. And it is ridiculous.
The police have procedures so they don't walk into death traps. Every time I see a picture of a cop ducking behind a car in the parking lot when the violence is happening inside an enclosed structure, I want to scream.
It's not the cops fault. They come when they're called. They follow the rules. And the rules are there for a reason. But rules and procedures don't save people from a marauding psychopath intent on killing everyone. Only someone armed themselves can stop this kind of thing.
People need to be empowered. The criminals already are empowered and have the benefit of planning and offense. The defenders should at least be able to defend themselves.
We can talk prevention. It's another sad-looking kid with a troubled past. Aren't they all? And yet, the vast majority of troubled kids don't end up mowing down everyone in some warped sense of self-justified vengeance. They suck it up and grow into dysfunctional adults like everyone else.
So, prevention and bullying and psychotropic drugs and the psychology of sociopaths and the moral decay and everything else will be trotted out.....again. And the answers will be the same: there are always crazies. In every era of the world, from Cain and Abel on there have been angry, murderous crazies. We can pretend to live in a la-la world where "society could do more", whatever the hell that means, or we can make some serious reforms so that a guy like that gets off one shot, maybe two. And then someone else takes care of the problem, for the sake of innocent lives.
Six minutes is too long to make a difference. The damage was done. The rampage over. And once again, people, Christmas shoppers, the innocent are dead. Robert Hawkins may not have been able to be prevented, but he most definitely could have been stopped.
Glenn Reynolds has a good idea: sue the places that disarm the innocent and yet won't provide protection. Sue the colleges, malls, sue everyone! Sue the government that makes such regulations that violate a person's civil rights--the most basic, to live. Glenn says:
But it's worth noting -- since apparently most of the media reports haven't -- that this was another mass shooting in a "gun-free" zone. It seems to me that we've reached the point at which a facility that bans firearms, making its patrons unable to defend themselves, should be subject to lawsuit for its failure to protect them. The pattern of mass shootings in "gun free" zones is well-established at this point, and I don't see why places that take the affirmative step of forcing their law-abiding patrons to go unarmed should get off scot-free. There's even an academic literature on mass shootings and concealed-gun carriage.Amen, brother Glenn.
Perhaps we need legislation. If it saves just one life, it's worth it.