This is a little disjointed -- but I have about a million different thoughts running through my head at the moment, so for now, I have this.
Before I get started on this, heck I have been writing and rewriting this for over 2 hours -- I am going to include a disclaimer. It goes against my first instinct, I should be able to state my opinion without (hopefully) giving anyone the impression that I condone killing, that I hold anyone who takes the life of another human being in any sort of regard. It shouldn't be necessary, but I have been alive through enough of these sort of incidents to know that people react with their gut and I understand people are not going to agree with me.
A couple facts about myself and my experiences that play into what I am going to say. I am a gun owner. I own a semi-automatic 22 pistol, and I have gone to shooting ranges with my dad several times. I am a damn good shot, and I have experience loading and shooting my dad’s 9mm semi automatic pistol, a 22 pistol, as well as rifles. I know how easy it is to expel an empty clip and reload. It’s quick, with any practice at all, it’s almost instantaneous. I also know how much ammo that man had to be carrying. A standard 9 mm clip carries 15 rounds which means he was carrying several, all preloaded. He had thought this out. I do not think guns are inherently evil, nor do I think that law-abiding citizens should be stopped from purchasing guns.
I have also been the kid who wrote violent pieces for class. In the 6th grade for a book writing/binding project, I wrote a violent book. It included murder, revenge, hell I beheaded a fellow classmate with an axe and then ended up destroying her reanimated body and setting it on fire before being locked away in a mental institution. I was 12. I know were I in school post-Columbine, I am sure it would have been seen as more than a creative project. I also take anti-depressants. Add those up without any other details -- I probably fit the profile.
My brother went through elementary school and junior high being tortured by other kids.
I am not talking about teasing. Yes there was that, but it went much further -- he was pushed, shoved and harassed. Not good natured ribbing. Yes, he was a nerd, yes he was smart and stood out because of that. He is know a Phd teaching early American Literature at a university and he’s a father of 2. He wrote pieces in junior high about suicide.
My sister wrote a piece in high school (a play I think) about killing her band teacher. She now has her Master’s in percussion and is a lawyer.
I wish there was a standard answer to why things happen. I wish there was a quick answer as to why some people go on to hurt others. Frankly, no matter how badly we want that, there isn’t.
This is one of those things that every one writes about when it happens. A thousand different experiences and thoughts. I do not know any one who attends or has attended Virginia Tech. I haven't been a college student in over 10 years.
What bothers me about situations like this is the debates that re-ignite when it happens. You have a "loner shooter" they are quiet, no one knows them, they have no known group of friends, except people find something about them "disturbing."
I am no expert on anything. I don't claim to be. I have read the "violent plays" that are now over the internet that supposedly point to a disturbed person. I have read that his writing teacher suggested he go to counseling. Here is my thought on this -- regardless of what we think, this person was an adult. You cannot force anyone to go to get help. You also in my opinion, cannot expel someone for what they write. To me, to start talking about this kind of thing, starts to smack of thought crime. You cannot decide that someone is disturbed, potentially violent without something more than a badly written violent play. We cannot start following people around waiting for them to do something. We cannot fit people into a “profile” if they take anti-depressants, express anger or anything else for that matter through writing. I certainly don’t want my personal things monitored in “case” I might go off the deep end. We run the risk of alienating even more people and keeping those who need help from getting it because of a stigma that frankly already exists. If only it were that easy to see who was going to turn out a certain way.
My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. I am honestly sorry they are in pain. I just hope that we don’t create reactionary “solutions” that will give a false sense of security until it happens again.