11 May 2009

Amoklauf in Uniform

Conflicting early reports of an incident at "Camp Liberty" in Iraq leave unclear the status of the "stressed out" U.S. soldier who apparently took it out on his own comrades-in-arms today. The body of this story asserts that the shooter took the typical way out, while a "Breaking News" banner above it states that he has been captured alive. Not in dispute, apparently, is the body count: four soldiers dead, others wounded.

First impressions must be tentative, but my first thought on seeing this news was to wonder why it doesn't happen more often. Military discipline and comradeship might be obvious answers, while Second-Amendment absolutists might point to the deterring ubiquity of guns and armed persons on a military base. I don't know where on the base the shooting took place, and I know nothing of the shooter apart from the "stressed-out" description, but if something like this can happen on a military base in an occupied country, and it can't be blamed completely on someone's extraordinary psychosis, then something wrong with our culture or our strategy is getting worse.

Update: The shooter has killed at least five people, and was taken alive. The shooting took place at a "stress clinic," which doesn't sound like a place where someone ought to be carrying weapons. As I write, the shooter's identity remains publicly unknown.

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