Here we go again. Another mass shooting.
It’s a familiar scene by now: gurneys roll through the police tape to the waiting ambulance. Hysterical relatives are seen briefly on the videotape. Grave TV announcers report additional details at the top of every hour on the cable news channels.
This one happened yesterday in Alabama. According to Reuters:
Eleven Killed in Alabama Shooting Spree
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 11 (Reuters) — Eleven people including the suspected gunman and his mother were killed in a shooting spree and car chase in southern Alabama on Tuesday, authorities and local media said.
The shooter, who was in his mid-30s, killed five people including the wife of a local deputy sheriff and her 3-month-old baby at a mobile home in Samson, according to Wynnton Melton, mayor of nearby Geneva, Alabama.
His other victims included his own mother, two people killed at a convenience store and a man in a pickup truck who died during a car chase as the gunman apparently fired at random, said Melton.
In all 10 people plus the gunman died, according to the website of the Dothan Eagle newspaper.
The shooting began in Samson, a small town in the southeastern part of the state and ended after a car chase and gun battle in Geneva, the county seat about 12 miles (20 km) away, according to the FBI and local police.
“Officer Ricky Morgan rammed his car to distract him and was rewarded with a hail of bullets,” said Melton. “One bullet grazed the shoulder of police chief Frankie Lindsey.”
A local newspaper, The Dothan Eagle, gives more details:
11 Dead in Geneva County Shooting Spree
The gunman, identified by eyewitnesses and a former high school classmate as Michael McLendon, 27, began his mad, violent rampage in Kinston, where one victim was found dead in a burned house, according to authorities.
McLendon then went to Samson where he rampaged through a neighborhood, killing four adults and a 1-year-old child at one residence, and two other people at nearby homes. A 3-month-old infant was also injured in the shootings.
He then went on a random shooting spree through Samson, shooting and killing a woman at a Big Little store on State Highway 52 and another victim at Samson Pipe and Supply.
McLendon also opened fire on Bradley TrueValue Hardware store. Luckily, no one was injured.
After McLendon left Samson he fled to Geneva, where he encountered law enforcement officers. Geneva County deputies rammed the suspect’s Mitsubishi Eclipse in front of Alabama Title Loans on State Highway 52, near Wal-Mart.
Gunfire was exchanged and Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey was shot in the shoulder, though his wound was not serious. A chase then continued to Reliable Products where McLendon took his own life.
Now pay attention to this snide little coda appended to the Reuters article:
– – – – – – – – –
Guns are widely available for purchase in the United States, a country that prides itself on the right to own weapons for self defense and hunting.
The clear implication is that the ready availability of guns in the United States leads inevitably to mass shootings like this one. It’s the typical elite European attitude towards Americans: they’re a combination of cowboys and gangsters, trigger-happy primitives bristling with firearms, ready to open fire at the drop of a Stetson.
Yes. We’re all aware of this. It’s common knowledge.
But as it happens, when I looked at the online news this morning, the Alabama massacre headlines were side-by-side with those of another mass shooting story, this one from Germany and even more deadly. According to Voice of America:
Gunman Kills 15 at German Shooting Spree
German police say a gunman has been killed following a shooting spree that began at a school near Stuttgart and left 15 people dead.
Police say a youth dressed in military-style fatigues walked into a classroom at the Albertville technical high school in the town of Winnenden mid-morning Wednesday and opened fire. Authorities have identified the shooting suspect as a 17-year-old former student who was previously known to police.
A police spokeswoman said the suspect escaped the scene by car and was later killed in a nearby town. She said the dead include three teachers, nine students, a resident near the school and two others in addition to the suspect.
What kind of gun laws does Germany have?
If Reuters reports the Winnenden shooting in a fair and balanced manner, it will add this paragraph to the end of its story:
Guns are not widely available for purchase in Germany, a country that prides itself on controlling access to weapons for both self defense and hunting.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.
Back at the report from The Dothan Eagle, this brief quote caught my eye:
“We were just business as normal and all of a sudden there were bullets flying and glass was everywhere,” owner David Bradley said. “We realized what it was and grabbed our guns but then he was gone.”
In other words, the good citizens of Samson, Alabama are armed. If events had proceeded slightly differently — if one of the hardware store employees had been able to lay his hand on his gun before the murderer fled from the premises — the death toll might have been substantially lower.
It puts me in mind of those well-armed Israeli citizens who took out the bulldozer terrorist last week before he could kill anybody.
The good citizens of Winnenden didn’t have the same option. Like the citizens of most of the rest of Europe and Canada — and of many cities in the United States — they rely on the police to protect them.
Which is foolish and futile. The police can’t get there in time. All they can do is investigate the murders after the fact, hunt down the killer, and (with luck) see that he is tried for his crimes.
Gun laws don’t stop gun violence. Virginia Tech and now Winnenden are ample proof of that.
They merely strip law-abiding people of the ability to defend themselves. If you live in a “gun-free zone”, all you can do is say your prayers when the bad guy shows up.
But not in public. That’s against the law, too.