By Alan Caruba
Whether it was the lunatic who killed several people in a mall, the ones who killed students on the Virginia Tech and the North Illinois University campus, or news of the capture of the alleged meat cleaver killer of a New York psychiatrist, the simple fact is that there are lunatics who live among us every day.
I suspect that if we knew how many of these people are out there, we would be demanding that laws be changed to lock them up for just about any reason. This is one of those areas of tension that exist between the right against being arbitrarily arrested and held without “due process” and the need to protect the public.
The greatest mystery in our lives is the question we ask when we wonder what someone else is thinking. Even acts of kindness make us wonder, though a threat is frequently intuited instantly.
How many murdered wives have told their friends and relatives that their husband is going to kill them some day? How many husbands are killed by wives that “snap”? Police will tell you that your chances of being murdered by someone you know are far higher than being killed by a stranger.
The mental institutions and the jails of America are filled with people who have either a tenuous grip on reality or who regard the laws that we respect and obey to be an obstacle to their wishes.
Whether they are hearing voices in their head or just yielding to their own demented desires, they are a threat to everyone. We rarely, however, know it until we are directly confronted by the threat.
This is the primary and most compelling argument to permit law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed weapons. These are ordinary people with no criminal record who have demonstrated competency with a handgun. They save lives. In States where it is known that the general population can legally carry concealed weapons, the numbers of murders and other crimes are reduced.
I’m not sure how many people defend their lives daily with guns, but it is in the hundreds and more. In a population of 310 million and climbing, the odds you will encounter a threat are climbing too. The mere presence of a gun, however, is often sufficient to deter further trouble.
It seems to me, though I have no statistics to prove it, that these murderous incidents where people are known to gather in numbers and to be defenseless, whether it’s a mall or a campus, are increasing.
I have always found it interesting that we will watch a Western movie where all the men walk around with guns in holsters or carrying rifles and accept the normality of it. Often the only law in town was a sheriff and that was no guarantee against a bad guy. So men routinely carried weapons. We understand the need, but we shy from today’s citizens having the same level of personal protection. It doesn’t make sense, does it?
In the last John Wayne movie, “The Shootist”, the old gunfighter explained, “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.”
That makes a lot of sense to me.
What doesn’t make any sense and never will are the actions of deranged people who kill complete strangers. As often as not, they kill themselves too. Why don’t they do that before harming others? It has something to do with the absolute evil that lurks in the dark places of the soul.