A shooting rampage
in Britain has left the public searching for explanations and ways to prevent future attacks. The shooter, Derrick Bird, killed 12,
starting with his twin brother and some acquaintances before turning to
random passers-by and finally taking a thirteenth life--his own.
- When Did This Type of Attack Become English? Michael McCarthy,
at The Independent, recalls a similar 1987 shooting that ended the old image of the "largely-American phenomenon of the firearms rampage." He seems to
view this 1987 incident as the end to a certain illusion: "It was
unthinkable then. Not any more of course ... in our relatively quiet
and relatively civilised country, some sort of awful psychic boundary
was definitely crossed."
- It's Not English "Despite occasional
flurries of tabloid-fanned fear and in defiance of domestic TV dramas
in which multiple shootings have become routine entertainment," reads a
"Britain is neither a gun-toting society nor one in which order and
security are held ransom by a gun lobby like the one whose activities
help to allow so much killing in the United States."
- British Gun Laws Already Tight, protest journalist Harry Mount in the Telegraph and former police commissioner Ian Blair
in the Guardian, preemptively--they anticipate calls for reviewing the
laws. Though Mount admits he's always found the "guns don't kill
people; people kill people" line "pretty fatuous," he points out that
"gun nut killings still remain mercifully rare in this country," where
"gun laws are already, rightly, very tight." Adds Blair: "The rate of
discharge of firearms in London, when I last looked, was one-nineteenth
of the rate in Los Angeles." He does "wonder," though, about the
possibility of making individual firearm ownership a matter for
communities to decide.
- How Society Helps Low Self-Esteem Turn Deadly Investigative psychologist Keith Ashcroft
talks about the profile of rampage killers, who "often have low
self-esteem and tend to be paranoid." Naturally these tragedies raise
questions about media violence, he writes, but there are "wider issues
too. We define ourselves through jobs, power and money. People are so
driven they have no other sense of who they are. They can't go to the
doctor or the priest, so they take a gun and kill people."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
hhorn at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.