Why did the Ft. Hood gunman do it? Because a gun-crazy country let him
Forgive the cynicism, but really, who cares why Army Spec. Ivan Lopez took a gun and killed three people and wounded 16 others at Ft. Hood, Texas, on Wednesday?
Thursday’s stories were filled with details about Lopez and his rampage: He was being treated for depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances; he had seen a psychiatrist recently and had been prescribed Ambien; he was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder; he served in Iraq but not in combat; he bought his weapon from the same gun store as fellow Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.
So once again we find ourselves sifting through the wreckage of a life, trying to understand why someone decided to destroy others’ lives.
But for what?
Does anyone really believe that unraveling the mystery of why Lopez snapped will help us prevent the next crazy gunman from snapping?
Adam Lanza snapped and killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. James Holmes snapped and is now on trial, accused of killing 12 people at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. Seung-Hui Cho snapped and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University.
Should I go on?
Because what have we done -- actually, concretely done -- since those shootings to prevent future rampages? Did the nation pass tougher gun control laws? Even, at the very least, make it harder for disturbed people to acquire guns? Did we start spending more on mental health programs?
No. No. No.
So why ask why Lopez did it? Even if we find out why, we aren’t going to do anything about it.
Oh, sure, Ft. Hood may beef up security. Maybe even adhere to the National Rifle Assn.’s mantra, which is that if everyone is armed, everyone is safer. Though it seems to me that that is already the case on a military base, much as it was at the Washington Navy Yard in September, when crazed gunman Aaron Alexis fatally shot 12 people. So maybe arming all the people all the time isn’t the answer? [Updated Friday, April 4, 10:47 a.m.: Yes, folks, thanks, you are correct: Military bases are weapons-free zones. Point conceded. My argument, admittedly sloppily made, was that bases are -- or at least are supposed to be -- secure, with guards and security screening and such; unlike, say, schools, movie theaters and the like.]
We’re a nation awash in guns, and we’re a nation with a certain percentage of people who are disturbed. When you mix those two, you get Ivan Lopez and Adam Lanza and James Holmes and all the rest, although not all of them kill enough people to make headlines.
We can go down one of two roads: We can make it much harder to get guns, or we can stay on the path we’re on and accept that these rampages will be, yes, routine.
Given the fate of gun control measures recently, it’s clear that the NRA and the die-hard 2nd Amendment types in this country have won. So we’ll stay on the road to routine rampages.
It’s the path Ivan Lopez chose.
And I couldn’t care less why.
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