Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gun Violence Erupts Again, This Time in a Utah Mall

At AltTulsa, we deplore senseless violence of all sorts. We think it is morally wrong to kill or physically assault other human beings (and, yes, we would make exceptions in cases of self-defense and morally justifiable wars).

Yet it's always shocking to hear about unprovoked shootings like the one yesterday at a Salt Lake City mall. A young man with a shotgun and a pistol entered the mall and began firing randomly. By the time he was finished, five citizens were dead and several more people, including a 16-year-old, were seriously wounded. Many more shoppers were literally running for their lives or hiding in bathrooms and under counters.

We don't know what might have motivated the shooter. Presumably, he was alienated and angry about some real or perceived grievance. But this man's private grievance became an act of mass murder when he went on his shooting spree. His weapons allowed him to kill and wound people who were merely shopping and who posed no threat to anyone.

Sadly, this shooting was one more instance of unprovoked gun violence in the U.S—violence that goes on and on.

Here's the question we would ask about gun violence in the U.S.: It is good public policy to make guns easily available to every adult, no matter what his or her state of mind?

We don't think so. We think public policy and common sense argue in favor of some kind of gun restrictions, even modest restrictions, to keep firearms out of the hands of children, teenagers, and people known to be violent, criminally insane, or deranged.

That's not too much to ask. No, it wouldn't stop all random and senseless shooting, but it might very well stop some of them. And it would save innocent lives.