NASA caught in Post-Columbine World
It is legal to carry a firearm in every state in the US; two do not require permits so long as the carrier is not a felon. In forty-three out of fifty states, it is lawful, either by default or by permit, to carry a firearm on your person. Texas, home of the NASA hostage situation, allows for the carrying of concealed handguns; you can apply for one here. This isn't about criminals buying black-market weapons in the dead of night, this is about weapons entering our society legally and ending up in the hands of very dangerous people.
There has been a cluster of gun-related "incidents": six high-profile shootings in six weeks, mostly at schools. Meanwhile, the battle for gun control rages on; we can clearly see that Americans have trouble controlling their guns. Over the past few days, the media has been beating the Virginia Tech story to death (no gun required), focusing on the shooter's ethnicity, susceptibility to influence by pop culture, and whether or not students should walk around campus carrying guns of their own.
But beyond the disarmament vs. from-my-cold-dead-hands argument, there's something else going on here: Why are we getting so trigger-happy? Undeniably these shootings are happening more and more frequently: since Columbine, our concept of sanctuary has eroded. Places where people felt safe, they no longer feel safe visiting: churches, schools, even military installations. Conversely, those who seek to harm innocents are no longer deterred by church doors, temple walls, halls of learning.
The perpetrators of these crimes tend to fit the stereotypical profile: withdrawn, morose, morbid. Violent fantasies, scary drawings. Trouble is, nobody's noticing when these individuals begin to slip. For all our connectedness, we seem to be noticing each other less and less, and, when we do, we're not doing or saying anything about it. Why not? I'm not asking all of you to become cops or psychiatrists, but we need to do a better job of connecting with our surroundings, and that means the people around us.
Perhaps our own disconnect is affecting the disconnect of others. Maybe, with no solid sense of community, it becomes easier to pull the trigger, a sort of remote control on/off switch, but for a person. This has nothing to do with violent video games or movies or rap lyrics, but quite a bit to do with the extent to which we see others as being actual human beings.