October 2007: Sheriff’s deputy shoots and kills 6 youngsters in Crandon, Wisconsin.
April 2007: At least 22 people are killed as a gunman goes on the rampage at the campus of Virginia Tech
March 2007: Two men randomly shoot down 6 bystanders in Denver.
February 2007: Teenager guns down 5 complete strangers in Salt Lake City shopping mall.
October 2006: A 32-year-old gunman goes on the rampage at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, shooting dead at least three girls before killing himself
September 2006: A gunman in Colorado shoots and fatally wounds a teenage schoolgirl, and then kills himself
September 2006: Two days later a teenager kills the head teacher of a school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin
July 2006: Man randomly shoots 13 persons in Phoenix.
November 2005: Student in Tennessee shoots dead an assistant principal and wounds two other administrators
November 2005: Man randomly guns down 6 shoppers in a mall in Tacoma, Washington.April 2005: A 22 year-old man shoots 6 strangers in Maryland.
March 2005: Schoolboy in Minnesota kills nine, and then shoots himself
May 2004: Four people are injured in a shooting at a school in Maryland April 2003: Teenager shoots dead a head-teacher at a Pennsylvania school, and then kills himself
October 2002: Over a four week period, two snipers randomly shoot passers by in Washington DC suburb.
January 2002: A student who had been dismissed from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, killed the dean, a professor and a student, and wounded three others.
March 2001: A pupil kills two students after opening fire at a school in California
December 2000: Software engineer shoots 7 of his co-workers in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
February 2000: A classmate shoots dead a six-year-old girl in Michigan. November 1999: A 13-year-old girl is murdered by a classmate in New Mexico, again via a shooting.
August 1999: White supremist guns down 5 people, including 3 children, in Jewish Community Centre in LA.May 1999: Six are injured by a student in a shoot-out in Georgia.
April 1999: Two teenagers shoot dead 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine School in Colorado.
June 1998: Two adults are hurt in shooting by teenage student at high school in Virginia
November 1997: Mass shooting in Thurston School cafeteria in Springfield, Oregon.
The frightening thing about the above list is that it is only partial. The truly terrifying aspect is that most of the shootings were not done for profit or revenge, but were entirely random acts – or, at most, a horrifying reaction to an imagined affront. There was no perceived threat from the attackers, no precaution and no warning. Like those kids whose lives were so abruptly and tragically snuffed out in Crandon, you and I can wake up in the morning, with no guarantee that we will live through the day. This sort of thing happens in Iraq. It should not happen in the most prosperous country in the world: not in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
What I find distressing is that the latest senseless rampage in Crandon – the apparent trigger for the massacre was a fight the deputy had with his girlfriend – will not change anything; and the list will keep growing longer. Sure, a few people will shake their heads and there will be another debate on gun control; but many Americans will continue to hang on to their handguns and rifles, as if they were some family heirlooms. The time worn arguments will be trotted out – like how it is their Constitutional right to bear arms; but the Constitution links that right to "a well regulated militia"; and that militia is today known as the National Guard. I suppose it is also their constitutional right to get shot too.
A common American argument is that people need guns to protect themselves against criminals or crazies who themselves use guns. But Americans never take the next step - if guns were illegal the criminals and crazies wouldn't have them either. Some would argue that criminals would continue to procure guns, even if it was made illegal. Fair enough; except that hardly any of these senseless massacres are carried out by career criminals. Most the perpetrators are seemingly normal young men, as American as apple pie, but with a very low tolerance level. When a gun is available so handily – and so easy to obtain – it is very tempting to use it to settle scores, real or imagined. How many people could that disturbed young officer have killed – before being overpowered - if he had been wielding a knife instead of a handgun?
I would willingly concede that the act of owning a gun is not, in itself, inherently wrong – if, that is, the owners are all normal people who have a strong sense of responsibility. Now it appears what you do have in America are a lot of irresponsible people and a lot of disturbed people. Guns did not make them irresponsible or disturbed. However, guns did give them a way to express their anger; in a way that causes irreparable harm to their victims and their families. As the number of people who own guns increases, so the likeliness of fatal shootings rises with it. Anyone who owns a gun is contributing, albeit indirectly, to that statistic. That said, America seems so obsessed with guns and gun ownership, it is such an ingrained aspect of their culture, that it seems to me a lost battle. American citizens will never disarm themselves.
Here is another statistic. Taking the United States, Canada and entire Europe as a whole, nine of the ten deadliest random shootings in recent years took place in the United States. The people of Europe do not have a Constitutional right to bear arms; and it does not seem to bother them. In 2006, the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland combined – with a land area equal to one third of the continental United States – reported a grand total of five murders. You can do the math.
Like I said, this horror, too, will soon blow over and become just another crime statistic. As an outsider, I cannot help wondering when will the list reach critical mass? At what point will Americans finally acknowledge that there is something seriously wrong here? When will Americans finally cry “ENOUGH”?