It’s happened before.
1999, 2007, even earlier this summer. So how do we stop it? Can we stop it?
Sadly, the answer is no. But at least we can try.
Many, myself included, advocated stricter gun control regulations upon first hearing of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Still, these same claims were made following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, some that even led to legislative change, but the violence continued regardless. Drugs are illegal and people are still abuse them; why would guns be any different?
They might not be, but they also might be. Think about it: if a potential gunman doesn’t have ready access to a gun, then game over. While there is always a chance the killer may persevere and find another weapon, there also remains the possibility that they never carry out their plans.
Others point to mental health budget cuts as the reason behind this most recent spree killing. Mentally unstable people, though, are not de facto violent; in fact, reports that the gunman was previously diagnosed with a personality disorder or Asperger Syndrome are purely speculative at this point.
Even if we allot more government funding to mental health research and treatment, therefore changing our philosophy to one of “Find the Psycho”, it’s only a matter of time before someone else fills the void. However, even if we can stop one spree killing, one Sandy Hook shooting, the lives we save are worth the effort.
The media isn’t innocent in the wake of Friday’s tragedy, either. In the competitive, copycat society we live in today, criminals are always looking to outdo each other; instead of going out as lonely nobodies, these people would rather die as violent, infamous monsters. By spotlighting the killers in these mass murders, the media perpetuates the skewed glory these murderers are after.
Instead, news outlets should focus on grieving and remembering the lives of the victims. We can best honor their memories by stealing the infamy their killer hoped to achieve. Remember the name of a single victim and pray for the well-being of their family.
As we look to the future, the pain of the Sandy Hook shootings fresh in our hearts and minds, we must be realistic. In our increasingly violent modern world, spree killings are becoming more and more frequent, but also more difficult to predict. We still struggle both with controlling firearms and providing mental healthcare to those in need, but unfortunately, spree killings are becoming a part of our society.
No matter what we do, we unfortunately may never be able to fully stop these mass murders. The idea will persist, as will the means, and the next time tragedy strikes, we will have the same discussions. Perhaps the events of Newtown, Connecticut will linger in our minds due to the nature of the victims, but the debate will eventually die down.
So will we ever be able to end spree killings entirely, or even limit the number of instances? Potentially, potentially not. But is it worth a try, even to save just one life?