07 January 2010

Amoklauf in St. Louis

A disgruntled employee made a suicide run against his workplace today, killing two people and wounding more before shooting himself. The shooter's identity was known while he was presumably still alive in the building. The news media have noted his participation in a class-action lawsuit accusing the company pension fund of leeching off employees' savings with exorbitant fees and other charges. Whether this ongoing issue provoked today's rampage is unclear. Neighbors knew the shooter as a hunter but otherwise a quiet family man. It all makes one wonder. The people who argue against any regulation of gun ownership often claim that, given man's propensity for violence, that denying people guns will not prevent violence but would only force them to use other weapons to express their rage or malice. But how many mass shootings can be categorized as crimes of passion or sudden impulse? Many seem to be intensely premeditated. Many if not most are acts of revenge against society. Is it wrong to ask whether gun ownership encourages some people to believe that they have the right as well as the power to take law -- or war-- into their own hands, to act as judge and executioner against an enemy bigger than an individual? Individuals often have grudges against each other that result in simple violence: stabbings, bludgeonings, strangulation, etc. But the individual who sees some group (or "the group") as the enemy has recourse only to the gun or the bomb if he hopes to make a difference. So is there some correlation between gun ownership and a mental or moral capacity to kill or simply strike at many people at once? Like I said, all the news makes you wonder sometimes.

Update: A third victim of the shooter has died, and another question has occurred to me. Given the public's hysterical reaction when a would-be terrorist failed to kill anyone on Christmas, shouldn't we hear people clamoring for the President to take more decisive action to stop Americans from strolling into places and shooting their fellow citizens? Is today's amoklauf somehow more tolerable than a thwarted suicide-bombing on an airplane? Or is it only bad when foreigners kill Americans? It all makes you wonder.


Anonymous said...

Apparently it's only "bad" if the killer is a muslim and is using an explosive. As long as it's an American with a gun, it's a-ok.

Samuel Wilson said...

It doesn't have to be an explosive. The Fort Hood shooter was a Muslim with a gun, so you're at least half right. It may also be that an American shooter has to score a minimum body count before the hand wringing begins; otherwise complacency sets in.

Anonymous said...

My point being that, for the most part, it seems Americans are "comfortable" allowing angry, possibly psychotic and/or sociopathic people going amoklauf - as long as they're American citizens, but they don't cotton to the notion of "foreigners" with a possibly legitimate axe to grind going amoklauf in the US.

This is mainly because of the extremely selfish and self-interested cowards on the right who hide behind the second amendment, rather than admit there is a real and growing problem with violence in this country and give up their prosthetic penises.

Samuel Wilson said...

You may be on to something when you write about legitimate axes to grind. Americans may be able to dismiss their own people running amok as crazy folk, but attacks by foreigners bring up those uncomfortable "Why do they hate us" questions that most of us would rather not confront.