It had to happen. It’s been years since we had a shooting outrage, but within minutes of the latest one, and on the basis of no knowledge whatsoever, we have the first knee-jerk reactions calling for tighter gun control.
First of all it has been reported that this guy held his license for 15 years. Is there any possibility whatsoever we could make gun license applicants wait fifteen years to see if they were going to do anything stupid? On top of all the other existing conditions and restrictions? Would that work? Of course not. In the 15 years he held his license, some 750 people (as near as I can find out right now) have been shot dead by people not licensed to carry guns.
It is suggested that he “snapped”, perhaps provoked in a family dispute. It has also been reported he told a taxi driver he’d argued with the night before, “There’s going to be a rampage tomorrow,” and then he went home and armed himself with two weapons. He was dissuaded on that occasion by a friend’s daughter. I feel desperately sorry for her right now, how must she feel? But at that point, even then could he have been stopped? How many people get angry but never follow through? Could she have reported him? What if it turned out he was only making an idle threat? It must happen a million times. How about the hospital where he is supposed to have gone for help, only to be turned away?
In the event, after killing his twin brother, he calmly went to the home of the family solicitor, waited for him and killed him, before going to Whitehaven to settle a grudge with former co-drivers. That done, and all in cold blood, he went off on his killing spree. It doesn’t seem to me he “snapped”, he made a calculated decision and followed it through. Even the killing of his brother could not have been a “snap” decision, it occurred at a quarry and not at the home of either of them. So they met there, and Bird took his guns with him.
How do we legislate against that, other than “No guns, no way”? I think everyone who’s asking that question right now is asking the wrong question. I would be much more interested in a debate about personal responsibility. He was able to rationalise his actions before he took them. How did he get there? I think that’s the more frightening aspect.