Another day, another massacre.
Well, it’s not quite an everyday occurrence, but it happens often enough to be profoundly disturbing. A nut with guns enters a workplace, simmering about some perceived slight or other grievance, and opens fire for no apparent reason. Innocent people are slaughtered, and the authorities are left scratching their heads about what could have caused the nut to go off in the first place.
Today, it happened at the Washington Navy Yard, where at least 12 people were killed before the suspected shooter, who was armed with an assault rifle, a handgun, and perhaps other weaponry, was finally killed himself. The FBI identified the suspected shooter as Aaron Alexis, a former member of the Naval Reserve who apparently worked as a military contractor. The Washington Post story linked above quotes witnesses who describe a scene of terror and chaos, where workers might turn down a familiar workplace hallway and find it converted into a shooting gallery by a gun-wielding lunatic.
How do we stop this? Gun control advocates say that we must restrict the availability of guns, but it’s hard to believe that a deranged person bent on committing murder would hesitate to obtain illegal firearms with which to carry out his mad plan. Supporters of gun rights argue that if more people were armed they would be able to defend themselves against the nutjobs and stop the slaughters before police arrive, but I’m leery of workplaces where everyone is toting a weapon and ready to launch a fusillade whenever an alarm bell sounds.
This seems to be a problem with no good solution. In the meantime, those of us who work in large buildings wonder whether someday the fickle finger of fate will point at our workplace, and the nut with guns will show up at our front door.