Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alabama Shootings

I'm sure you all saw the terrible story on the news about the man who went on a shooting rampage in Alabama. I didn't know the full story until I read this news article though. If you watch the video, it describes how this man put his own mother on the couch, piled things on top of her, then set her on fire. But that would only be the beginning of his rampage. After he burned his mother to death, he then killed four dogs, drove several miles to a relatives' house where he killed three relatives and two other individuals.

Still, he's not finished.

He then proceeded to shoot another relative who lived next door. After all this, he got in his car and drove around where he ended up killing three more people, these were just folks in the wrong place at the wrong time, total strangers. One man was shot in the back. At the end of his rampage he drove to a place where he used to work, shot and wounded an officer, then finally killed himself.

What drives a person to this sort of violence? It boggles my mind that at some point he didn't stop and ask himself, 'what am I doing?!' Random acts of violence are always somehow more horrific because of the sudden savagery of it all. There always seem to be no reasoning. So many people are dead because one man simply picked up a gun.

Are gun laws too weak? Is this a sign of stress in these tough economic times, or is that just an excuse? I feel sorry for the people who lost their lives, simply because they got in this man's way. It's frightening to think this can happen anywhere and at any time. It's a reminder to me to always give a kiss and say I love you to my family as they walk out the door...


Unknown said...

I don't even really know how to answer this question. I think it doesn't matter how tough we make the laws. Someone is going to break them. Sadly, I think our economic times are going to lead to only more violence as people feel they have no other recourse for what they have known their lives to be and see it as destroyed. These are very scary times right now.

Mia Varano said...

I don't think gun laws are too weak. Statistics show that cities that have strong gun control laws, limiting gun ownership actually have HIGHER crime rates (D.C. is an example). The bad guys know nobody is armed! I also don't believe it's a sign of tough economic times. My parents lived through the Great Depression, and there was less crime and fewer crimes like this horrendous act. Nope, we just have nuts out there who are operating on a different level of reality than the rest of us!

Carly Carson said...

This is sad and scary. But I think tougher gun laws are not the answer. First, it appears he killed his mother without a gun? People will still kill. Second, criminals will always have guns. Just like people who want drugs seem to obtain them regardless of the fact they are illegal. The government has guns. So who would be left without them? The law-abiding citizen. Do we really want only the criminals and the govt. to have guns? (I am not a gun owner, lol.) It's a complicated issue. The heart of the 2nd amendment is the potential for the govt. (at that time, the British Crown) to tyrannize the people. Even though such an idea seems far-fetched today, do we really want to eliminate the possibility of self-defense?

Desirée Lee said...

Here in California, I think gun laws are far too strict actually. When I moved back here, I couldn't bring all the guns I wanted to with me because some of what my ex and I owned are not legal here (but are legal where I used to live).

I noticed not one of the articles I've seen on this stated how he obtained the guns, whether through legal channels or not.

I do think the tough economic times are turning some people to extremes.

Each media outlet puts their own slant on stories. We all know that. Of course the Brady Campaign is obviously going to take the negative stance toward guns. That's their entire focus and drive. I do not think they are objective at all in their opinions, but they are certainly entitled to their viewpoint.

Here is another article that has more to say on the story.

In this article, most of the people who were acquainted with the man stated he was a quiet person who never got in trouble. Apparently the man internalized his anger.

Personally, I don't think stricter gun laws are going to do a damn bit of good deterring people who really want to commit acts of violence. We have laws in place against drugs, yet they're still trafficked into this country and used every day. We have laws against theft, yet things are stolen every day. We have laws against murder, but, unfortunately, if someone is really bent on killing another person, I think they will do so whether the law says they are ok to have a gun or not.

The old adage reads, if guns are outlaws, only outlaws will have guns.

There will undoubtedly be some exceptions. Those are the people that make headlines though. Like the guy several years ago who went on the rampage at Virginia Tech. He apparently acquired his gun legally. There are some people who do not have a criminal history, but are driven, for whatever reason, to commit a criminal act. If they want to commit a crime with a gun, and cannot obtain it legally, they will seek alternate routes to getting what they want. They already have such a strong lack of regard for the law, what is ignoring one more (i.e. gun) law going to make a difference to them? It won't.

Gun violence was a personal issue to me. May 1, 1992, a man named Eric Houston stormed into Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst, CA, armed to the teeth. He took 80 hostages, killed four people (three students and one teacher) and injured ten others. My boyfriend at the time, Steve, had graduated from LHS the year before. I had friends in LHS at the time (though I'd graduated the year before from a different area school). Steve and I got out of our college class and heard the news. He drove us over to LHS! I was freaking out telling him "Steve, there's a guy in there SHOOTING! Do we want to go there?" He wouldn't stay away. He felt he had to check on people he knew.

So Steve and I stood out there for a long time, searching for our friends. I hugged one teacher I didn't even know as she bawled on my shoulder, saying "He took my kids!" (meaning her students).

Steve and I left after awhile because we each had to go to work.

Later, the gunman said he would let some hostages go in exchange for pizza. I was working at a pizza place at the time. My restaurant donated pizzas.

I stood there, making a pizza, crying because I knew that this pizza, this fucking PIZZA, was going to be traded for a kid's life. I'm crying right now at the memory of it.

Later on in college, I had a class with one of the wounded survivors, as well as the mother of one of the boys who died. I don't know how they found the strength to get past their tragedy.

But they did. I have nothing but utmost respect for them for overcoming such a horrible act and moving on with their lives.

My point in this is that it didn't matter that California had strict gun laws. Eric Houston had no regard for the law.

Apparently, neither did Michael McLendon in Alabama. Did "weak" gun laws enable this tragedy? I honestly don't believe so. I don't think gun laws are to be blamed for whatever issues caused Michael McLendon to take up arms and kill 10 people, then himself. I think the issues that made him commit that horrible act goes much deeper than whether the government says who is fit to own a gun, and who is not.

Perhaps stricter gun laws will catch some of the people who should not own guns. That is probably true. There will always be someone who falls through the cracks though. When that happens, headlines are made and fingers of blame are pointed.

My advice to everyone would be to be open and honest with your kids, your families. If you own guns, teach them how to use them in a safe, respectful manner. Lead by example when it comes to gun safety.

Also, times are tough for all of us. We know that. If you or someone you know has problems that are seeming insurmountable, for your sake, and those you love, please seek some help. Or help the other person who needs it. I know there's not a lot we can do monetary-wise, when we're all struggling ourselves, but try to recognize the signs of trouble. Nip things in the bud before they get so bad that someone is driven to desperate acts. Tougher laws aren't going to save you or them. Only diligence and hard work will.

Carpe Noctem,
(proud, responsible gun owner)

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Desirée Lee said...

er, guns are outlawed... typo

Anonymous said...

I think you just have people on this planet who are going to blow at some point. Maybe, last week or so, I would have said gun laws are too weak. And actually I think they are in the US. But I don't think it could've stopped this shooting. Look at the school shooting in Germany that happened about the same time the Alabama shootings did (15 killed?). They have very strict gun laws. It just goes to show if someone really wants to commit a crime or get a gun, there's not a lot you can do to stop them. I mean the Alabama asshole kept a hit list.

Very sad and tragic all around though.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Very sad. I don't know what the answer is. I think some people will find a way no matter what.

Anne Rainey said...

lastnerve--That's why I brought the question here. I don't know how to answer it either. It's all very sad really.

Mia--I tend to agree that stricter gun laws won't change a situation such as this one. Killers will kill. Period.

Anne Rainey said...

Carly--You bring up some really good points! Food for thought. Thanks!

Des--Hmm, you're right the articles don't say how he obtained the gun. I'd be curious to find that out!

Anne Rainey said...

Shelli--I hadn't heard about the shootings in Germany. That's horrible!

Anne Rainey said...

Des--I can't imagine what you must have felt as you made that pizza. {{{{hugs}}} So, sorry you had to go through that.

Amber Green said...

Somebody should have shot his ass.

Mary Ricksen said...

One word, Insanity.
What drove him insane could have been money issues, divorce, a lost job, things every person might have to deal with in life.
This person was wired wrong, his chemicals in his brain went on the same rampage he did. It's not like he just killed the wife who was divorcing him. He killed at random. So as far as I am concerned he was nuts.
I do think gun laws are weak, here in Florida especially. My next door neighbors son pulled an AK47 on my husband, and got away with it. So yes, gun laws stink. Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them. Even an amendment to the constitution can fail to serve it's original purpose with time.

Regina Carlysle said...

Every year we hear of someone who just snaps for no apparent reason. Don't think stricter gun laws would do a darn thing. People who want to kill will find a way to do it.

Anne Rainey said...

Mary--Nuts, yep, that about sums it up. So sad that innocent people had to suffer as a result though. I wonder if there were early warning signs...?

Julie Robinson said...

Ditto on that Desiree!

These kind of people just need to be put out of their misery. And everyone else.

Julie Robinson said...

True, Regina.

Anonymous said...

Spree killers are often people who have been pushed past their limits, people who desperately needed help for quite some time but either couldn't face the stigma of seeking that help, or couldn't find it at all. Our mental health system is in worse shape than our health care system in general, with the added element of social disapproval or intolerance to make it all the more difficult for such people to find help.

Eliminating guns probably won't stop a spree killer, even assuming it were possible in the first place. Guns are a genie that we'll never get back in the bottle, no matter how hard we wish it. And even in the absence of guns, one can use bombs, automobiles, blades, axe-handles, and just about anything else they can imagine. The issue isn't so much the weapons they have at hand, but the fact that someone can get so close to the precipice without anyone noticing or doing anything to prevent the tragedy.

Anne Rainey said...

Saje--Very insightful! Thanks for commenting. :)