Friday, March 7, 2008

Straight Talk on Guns?

At first blush it looked like an honest attempt to address school shootings, but the more I read, the less I liked it.

"On April 15, 2007, I wasn't planning to take up a cause," he said. "But after what happened, I couldn't just sit back and do nothing about it ... so I joined the Million Moms March." Acknowledging that gun laws make for "an extremely polarizing subject," he said, "I haven't found a decent reason why an individual citizen would need an assault weapon.

"Why would you need a .50-caliber sniper rifle unless you're serving in Iraq? I think, if the Amendments were written today, they'd be very different because they'd be based upon the fears and problems we're having today — as they were when they were written."
What any of that has to do with school shootings is beyond me. Sounds like boilerplate Brady Bunch stuff.

Here, they start trying to "figure it out":
"People's possessions, interests and grooming are red flags that should get our attention — and then we should look into them further," said Depue. "And I'm not sure that's being done as efficiently as we could do it."
Next thing they'll be saying is someone with an interest in the Constitution is a possible terrorist.
He said the FBI learned that it takes too long to clear one room at a time when a shooter is loose. "Now, every officer has to be trained to go directly to the shooter and kill him," said Depue. "There's a risk, and it's real police work in the community. But we're living in dangerous times, as far as multiple victims are concerned."
Go directly to the shooter? How are you supposed to do that without clearing an area first? This guy is supposed to be former FBI. I guess that's why he knows "there's a risk". Maybe they should take a bullet first, as well.

Then, they start "profiling". Although some of the indicators made sense:
Stalking, aberrant behavior, paranoia, violence, enjoyment of cruelty, confrontations, prior contact with police and a mental-health history relating to dangerousness are other indicators.
Others were kinda normal behavior:
DEPUE SAID fantasy is revealed through people's statements, body language, gestures and behavior. It's often seen in the way they stare and in their expression and posture. They may be interested in martial arts and may use drugs and alcohol which, said Depue, "allow us to be free of the inhibitions which may stop us from doing anti-social things."

Furthermore, he said, "If you have a destructive fantasy, you give it fuel through books, music and videos." Clothing is yet another expression. It may be either tight or loose, exhibitionistic or camouflage. Often, it's Gothic clothing, such as a black trench coat. Tattoos, piercings, hairstyles and facial hair may also be clues.

Regarding other red flags and warning signs that may foreshadow potentially dangerous behavior, Depue said one, alone, doesn't warrant a judgment, but many together could spell trouble. For example:

* An interest in and fascination with weapons designed to kill people: Not just a pocket knife, but a stiletto; or machine guns, semiautomatic pistols, brass knuckles and explosives. Also, symbols of authority, such as badges and handcuffs.
* Homicidal and suicidal ideation: The person is depressed and expressing hopelessness and despair. "About 60 percent of multiple-shooting fantasies result in suicide," said Depue. "Cho wrote violent plays, compositions and poems showing he had intense suicidal thoughts. Teachers have to pick up on this."
* Anger, which can manifest itself in solitude, loss of temper, impulsive behavior and threats to harm someone or have them harmed.
* Boasting and practicing fighting and combat proficiency, such as military and sharpshooter training and martial arts.
* Loner: An isolated misfit who's socially withdrawn so his disturbed thought processes aren't challenged by other people.
* Disciplinary problems: Cho wouldn't take off his sunglasses in class or rewrite a play of his.
* Homicidal ideation: Expressing contempt for others and imitating past murders. According to Depue, when Cho attended Stone Middle School, "he had fantasies of killing everyone in his class, and Harris and Klebold were heroes to him."
* Feeling like a martyr: Feeling bullied or disrespected, which is how Cho felt in middle and high school.
There, I've put in bold everything that applied to me in my early years. I've yet to shoot anyone up. I guess I better not go back to school, huh?


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