Friday, July 20, 2012

Safety lessons from spree killers, '12

I’m re-posting, as I always do after most headline-making rampages, my 2009 piece about what we’ve learned from spree killers.

I’ve been doing this at least once a year for the past three years. The only thing that ever changes is the body counts.

Neither side on the gun control debate ever offers anything fresh to end the carnage. One side thinks we’d be more safe if everyone had guns; the other side thinks no guns is the solution.

I tried most recently in 2010 to find some middle ground with this idea a friend calls “The Barney Fife Amendment.

The thrust is everyone gets to carry a loaded gun anywhere they want: churches, airplanes, hospital birthing units, courtrooms, etc.

But you only get one bullet.

If you use or lose your bullet, in addition to any existing laws, you need to go before a judge to explain what happened to your bullet before you get another bullet.

I resort to absurdity when my cynicism over deadly stalemates overwhelms my optimistic nature.

So there’s nothing new here. Feel free to skip if it starts to sound redundant. After all, the ever-numbing news of spree killers has become all too redundant, as well.

Safety Lessons from Spree Killers

What we’ve learned from recent spree killers:
• It’s unsafe exercising in places dedicated to strengthening and prolonging life (George Sodini, LA/Fittness, Pittsburgh, August 4; three dead).
• It’s unsafe to be an armed, on-duty police officer responding to routine calls (Richard Poplawski, Pittsburgh residence, April 4; three dead).
• It’s unsafe to be an aspiring American, an immigrant drawn to our shores by the promise of a better life (Jiverly Wong, American Civic Association, Binghamton, N.Y., April 3; 13 dead).
• It’s unsafe to want to live out your golden years at a remote retirement home (Robert Stewart, Pinelake Health and Rehab, Carthage, N.C., March 29; eight dead).
• It’s unsafe to attend a place of worship (Terry Ratzman, Living Church of God, Brookfield, Wisconsin, March 12, 2005; seven dead).
It’s unsafe to shop (Robert Hawkins, Von Maur Department Store, Dec. 5, 2007; eight dead).
• It is unsafe, for the love of God, to be an Amish schoolgirl (Charles Carl Roberts IV, West Nickel Mines Amish School, Bart Township, Pennsylvania, Oct. 2, 2006; five dead).
All told, the random teachers listed here killed 47 people they’d never met and wounded hundreds more. The anecdotal tally could be higher if we included the dead who learned too late it is unsafe to go to places like work or school, but we already knew that.
None of these other-wise law-abiding individuals committed a single crime until the second they pulled the triggers on their legally purchased semi-automatic weapons.
Want to be safe?
Get a job in the U.S. Capitol.
It is there that each and every one of the more than three million annual visitors gets marched through state-of-the-art magnetometers before being allowed entry.
Want to be less safe?
Continue to live without complaint amidst the carnage and under the laws our elected officials continue to pass.

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