First, I want to say that we should not forget that this was a horrific event, and that I’m sure we all mourn for the dead and their families.
A fellow blogger in the science and technology world lost a close friend in this shooting, and has written about it here.
Now, I want to ask two difficult questions.
Before I ask the questions, though, I want to say something else. Yesterday, I had the idea of writing this post (this one, the one you are reading now). Didn’t get to it right away. Then, I read Webs’ post about the loss of his friend. It made me think: I’m thinking about writing a post about an event in which several people were senselessly murdered, and the purpose of that post is political. Now, I have no problem with doing that. This is how life works, this is how the world (occasionally) changes. But at the same time, I realized that there is a human side to this tragedy that needs to be acknowledged, and that it is so easy to forget that when commenting on events by which one is not directly affected.
Here are my questions:
It is often said, sometimes by gun-fanatics, sometimes by governors, that tragedies like this would be avoided if people were generally packing. Jesse Ventura made this comment in relation to school shootings. Even if only a few teachers would actually carry guns, students who might follow in the footsteps of the Columbine shooters would think twice and likely not come to school armed to the teeth with the intention of killing as many people as possible. And if they did, the chances are pretty good that someone would shoot them before they killed as many people as they might otherwise. This discussion was heavy on the airwaves and in the blogosphere following the Virginia Tech shootings.
Why did this not work in Omaha? Are we to believe that no one at that mall was packing? Are we to believe that this deranged young man, who did the shooting, would have believed that very few people in Nebraska carry weapons?
Nebraska has no handgun registration requirements, but they do (as to many states, if not all) have background checks. Locking devices are not required in Nebraska. You can own any kind of gun you want in Nebraska (machine guns, whatever). According to some sources, gun ownership in Nebraska is about in the middle of the pack, although sources vary as to how many people own guns there (probably just under 40%). It is hard to say how many people in this shopping mall would have been carrying a handgun. But at the same time, it would be hard for a potential shooter to know as well.
But more to the point, would it have mattered if this shooter had heard a news story the day before about the extraordinary number of Omaha residents doing their christmas shopping while carrying a handgun? I think not. Asked and answered.
The second question is this: Why is it that the press seems to be unconcerned with where a gun that is used in a horrific crime such as this comes from? Eventually, this is usually reported. But I listened to some of the reporting and one press conference in this case, and I did not hear the question raised. What is the reason that reporters do not seem to ask this question?