24 February 2015
Amoklauf in Czech
According to the latest summary, a middle-aged man who had shortly before called into a TV program to complain about suffering some form of bullying entered a pub in the Czech town of Uhersky Brod today and started shooting randomly. Eight people died before the man turned a gun on himself. Authorities know the shooter to have been mentally unstable, yet he possessed firearms. The Czech Republic reportedly has liberal firearms regulations, and the nation is a major manufacturer of small arms. One of the leading manufacturers is based in the very town where today's shooting took place. No psychological test is required before an applicant receives a gun license, but it should be noted that people may go crazy well after getting a license. In any event, two details here are consistent with amoklauf incidents elsewhere: the firearms themselves and the peculiarly modern sense of entitlement to kill that makes such incidents more prevalent around the world. That sense of entitlement -- in short, that rage -- motivates people even where guns aren't had so easily, as the mass knife attacks across China in recent years testify. Stricter regulation of guns around the world will reduce the lethal potential of that rage against humanity, but the rage itself clearly has a lethal potential that must be addressed separately. Either-or choices such as those forced on us by gun lobbyists who blame everything but firearms are inadequate to the problem. But liberals also need to look past an exceptional notion of American violence to recognize that gun control alone also falls short. Some will turn their attention to the culture, or more specifically the media, but violent media are themselves more likely symptoms than causes of the larger problem. Is the desire to see destruction and death, not to mention cause it, a media creation? In some cases maybe, but in general I suspect not. The more we think about this as we ought to, the more we may realize that nothing sort of a cultural if not a moral revolution must take place that may not be possible without a social revolution as well.