Yesterday’s terrible news of mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas is interesting because of its location at a military base. We’re told over and over again by the gun lobby that if only we would buy more guns and armed ourselves at church, in school, and in shopping malls, we’d be safe from these terrible rampages. The mass murders at Fort Hood strongly suggest that this is not the case. Civil society still depends on a great degree of trust in each other–we have to think that we’ll be safe from most kinds of harm in order for us to go to work, to school, the supermarket, restaurants, and churches. As it turns out, life on military bases is not so different from civilian life, and crazed gunmen can exact a terrible toll in human life even in an environment where most people have access to guns and walk around with firearms.
How many guns will it take for us to be safe? How many would we need to carry, and how consistently, and where in order to protect ourselves from all of the disturbed, dangerous, and/or mentally ill people who are equally well-armed?
As I walked into my 11 a.m. class today and turned on the overhead camera in order to cue up a video, CNN was reporting news of another mass shooting, this time in an office building. Since both of these mass murders appear to be incidents of workplace violence, how many of us have co-workers who are mentally ill and possibly dangerous?