Saturday, June 07, 2014

The shooter at Seattle Pacific University was (once again) a young man beset by mental illness, yet also described by those who knew him as good and kind. He was not--and is not--an evil person. He was a troubled, struggling person who did an evil thing (it has been remarkable to see the grace and concern being extended to him by the students and faculty at SPU, a Christian college). That there are those among us who struggle with mental illnesses is a fact of the human condition, and a subset of those may seek to hurt themselves or others. Our cultural fixation on violence and the ridiculous ease with which someone can obtain guns adds fuel to the fire, enabling a troubled person to harm not just him/herself but also potentially scores of complete strangers. We are not going to cure mental illness anytime soon or develop reliable methods of identifying who is going to become a mass murderer. While that work continues, the obvious and practical thing we can do is closely regulate the distribution, sale, ownership and storage of guns (as so many other developed countries have successfully done).

Additionally, what provided a window for the SPU gunman to be stopped by a heroic student was when he paused to reload. This is also what allowed bystanders to take down the 2011 Tucson shooter. This is also what enabled 6 children to escape from Sandy Hook Elementary. Conversely, what empowered the Aurora shooter to kill and wound so many was the 100-round magazine he was equipped with (he was finally stopped when his gun jammed). How can anyone disagree with the simple logic of limiting ammunition and outlawing high-capacity magazines?


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