A blogger friend alludes to yesterday’s incident at Virginia Tech and suggests the cause was mental illness. Having heard very little about the shooter except descriptions of his actions, I haven’t heard a case being made that he was mentally ill. I’m hearing he was thorough and ruthless, brutal and prepared. One report says he obliterated the serial numbers on the weapons, which suggests preparation. He chained the doors of the classroom building closed, also suggesting preparation.
Do we call it mental illness anytime we don’t like what other people do, when we find an act offensive or inexplicable?
If so, that’s the only explanation for our President’s remarks yesterday, leaping immediately from sympathy for the victims and their families to support of the right to bear arms.*
We live in a militarized culture, in a country where leaders think nothing of sending people away to kill and to die, to maim and be maimed, even when the battle being fought is offensive and inexplicable to so many. Our culture is ill, spiritually and mentally, when we sit back and say there is nothing we can do.
This morning I watched an interview with a young man who helped bar the door against the shooter. When asked how it felt to be called a hero, he could no longer speak, but stood blinking back tears.
This enemy was not a foreign terrorist, according to the Washington Post. He was a boy from Northern Virginia. There will be more to his story, of course. Perhaps we will learn of mental illness. Perhaps we will learn of personal difficulties. But if it weren’t so easy to get those guns, we wouldn’t be talking about it at all.
*Edited to add: I understand that the President made no public remarks about the 2nd Amendment, and I apologize for my error. The statement came from his spokeswoman, Dana Perino, earlier in the day.
I stand by my feelings regarding the availability of guns.
And, I hope obviously, this was written prior to the firm identification of the young man who committed the crimes.