The Guns of March

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?

Very stringent ones. Every would-be gun owner must have police approval in advance, and there are strict limitations on how many and what type of firearms one may own.

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.

13 thoughts on “The Guns of March

  1. I’m still a little curious about some of the circumstances of the German shooting (maybe more news today). According to some German news reports the house/home the shooter came from had 50-70 “legal” guns confiscated from it following the incident. That’s an *exceptionally* large number for even the most pro-gun area in the US (unless they’re all collector’s items or antiques).

    Moreover, it seemed that the German shooter used a “machine gun” – which (aside from the rare and extremely expensive class III license) would have been very unlikely to show up in the US – hence the rarity of their use in mass-shootings.

  2. Tuan Jim, it seems the boy’s father colected guns. He had an intire colection of them.

    They are exactly talking of more bans on weapons, more restingement because of that.

  3. What the gun control nuts both here and abroad fail to realize is that If the U.S. was such violent armed encampment there would be thousands upon thousands of massacres every year. Not to mention gun violence among average joe’s.

  4. Quote: ” 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.”

    Worth repeating: “When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away. “

  5. My sensation is that the debate is about the wrong issue (armed or disarmed populace).

    The question should be what spawns these monsters with so much murder in their hearts. Why do certain societies tend to generate more of them.

    I haven’t a clue and I’m not suggesting anything, but to focus on the guns (how easy it is to get’ em / or / how much better it is to have ’em available to take these nuts out before 3 murders become 15 is not what it’s all about. Nor is making parallels to Israelis being ready to respond to terrorists. That’s an entirely different situation.

    If it happens in USA (armed) and Germany and Finland and Japan (disarmed) the gun question is moot or marginal enough to be ignored. If it didn’t happen in the 20s, 30s… 60s… but now happens frequentely enough to get double headers in these modern days of progress…

    If it doesn’t seem to happen in Portugal or Spain (I don’t mean violence and murder, but this particular deranged sort)…

    Family? Video games? Drugs? Alienation? Hostile environments? I don’t know. But to talk only about guns is to accept that what was not happening when I was a kid and what is happening now on a regular enough basis as to have people on alert for certain telltale signs, is to accept this phenomenon as an inevitable result of progress.

  6. @livfreerdie —

    Yeah. Carrying one of those dudes around is getting my back out of joint. Fortunately, he’s an American policeman, though, not a Euro peacekeeper. Thus the burden is worth the effort ;-]

  7. @IoshkaFutz—

    The question should be what spawns these monsters with so much murder in their hearts. Why do certain societies tend to generate more of them

    Your whole comment has enough questions for a book-length response. I do hope someone is writing it.

    I think the “monsters with murder in their hearts” is not a new phenonmenon nor is it confined to particular societies. It just gets more publicity in the degraded journalism of western countries.

    For every one of these in the West, there are dozens, if not hundreds, along the bloody borders of Islam that simply go unreported:

    Ho hum. Another nut-case kills himself and takes a few dozen with him…

    Why didn’t the Iraqi woman who procured and trained at least 28 women to be suicide bombers get the same amount of MSM attention and the same response from the public?

    “Just Iraqis, ho hum. Bush’s fault.”

    Or how about that lovely Malay custom?

    Here’s a partial abstract of a journal piece:
    Running Amuck

    Going berserk, running amuck — whatever you want to call it — has existed in all cultures in one form or another. I’ll bet you’ll find it in lower animal forms also.

    I’d also bet that the berserkers are without exception beta males. The alpha males don’t need this destructive outlet — they already have what they want.

    I’d also bet that the psychological profiles of the German kid and the man in Alabama are very similar — i.e., loners, consider themselves “losers”, poor impulse control, etc.

    In turn, that matches the profiles of the Columbine killers and the student killer at Virginia Tech.

    We simply don’t pay enough intelligent attention to these boys even though the prodromal signs are obvious and are picked over like bird entrails after the fact. Then, entrail-readings completed, some expert pontificates.

    End of story till the next “incident”.

  8. Ioshka Futz, you are correct.
    However it would be good not to have necessarily an armed populace American style (which would be cool to those who like weapons only), but a community with power, with a say over things.
    Becaus the real problem in this armed populace discussion is, I think, that even in Portugal or Spain everybody feels like the criminals act with impunity and the police (but really the judiciary system) exists more to “screw” the average guy and the good citizen than to magically appear and save them when crime happens.

    Whith an armed populace, the comunity would have power to impose its laws. It is what happens in the semi-armed multiculturalism-free and community-based / conservative (strong vallues linking the people) rural areas.

    In the cities it is different. While you will for sure get a ticket for parking wrong or speed, the guy who raped a woman, killed a man, and robbed the grocery shop with a gun will continue to go free. And when cought, will have some sort of amnesty.

    Just another point:

    “If it doesn’t seem to happen in Portugal or Spain”

    It will eclode here. I bet in Spain is the same because I have already saw some two articles about it but here in Portugal, boys with serious problems like this (and older people also) focus their rage against their own family instead of their school mates. Maybe, its a cultural thing.

    But I believe it will soon come here because it is fashionable, and there are people capable of it. Just wait untill they get their hands into weapons.

  9. Does anyone have information about the victims?

    I heard the boy aimed at pretty girls especially. Does any one knows smomething about the victim profiling? Or did just shoot randomly (which I doubt)?

  10. I don’t see the parallels with Muslim suiciders. They generally have meaningful-to-them targets, an ideology. And as for loners who consider themselves “losers,” poor impulse control beta male types, etc. I don’t think there were any lack of them when I was a kid and these things never happened. It seems to be an “advanced country” thing where there might be even too much intelligent attention and not enough stupid attention.

    I’m only asking and wondering. I quit my psychology class at Mickey Mouse University after the second day, so when Afonso says: boys with serious problems like this (and older people also) in places like Spain and Portugal and Italy – “they focus their rage against their own family instead of their school mates. Maybe, its a cultural thing,” I buy it… There are lots of intra-family crimes of madness here… (and in Naples – so I’m told – when there’s a huge fight – sometimes the neighbors come and get involved and take sides). Like Manchester United or Liverpool or both, they never walk alone. Yes, I think over here, these types of people take it out on the family. But I think it also has to do with warmer more inclusive societies that offer more opportunity to blow out steam (and blow in steam). Less dignity. Less privacy. Less atomized man.

    I hope they don’t decide to catch up.

  11. Don’t forget India folks, in places like Germany and the US they can still argue that people can legally purchase guns and therefore the case should be for complete gun bans.

    Which is the case in India, the whole country, and yet close to 200 were gunned down. So much for the complete gun-ban theory ey.

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