Oregon shooter committed suicide

Officials recently announced that the Oregon shooter was not killed by police, but in fact committed suicide.  This is similar to the perpetrators of other notorious shootings – Islamist terrorists excepted – who do not seem to want to engage police after committing their atrocities.  For example, the Columbine shooters committed suicide, as did the Sandy Hook shooter; the Binghamton, New York shooter; and the Virginia Tech shooter.  The Colorado movie theater shooter surrendered to police without a fight. 

This is significant, because it suggests that in all these cases, had these gunmen been confronted with an armed guard or armed civilian, rather than unarmed, helpless victims, they would have fled, committed suicide sooner, or surrendered.  The pathologies of these gunmen appear to involve fantasies of power and control – exacerbated by frequent videogaming – and the fantasy is destroyed as soon as the gunman encounters armed citizens capable of defending themselves, showing the shooter up for what he always is: a sick, incapable coward.  This is why these gunmen deliberately choose gun-free zones, in order to fulfill their sick fantasies without risk of reality interrupting them. 

Of course, this analysis suggests that gun-free zones be eliminated, and concealed carry permits be made more broadly available.  Critics suggest that armed civilians themselves live in a fantasy world if they think they can stop one of these killers.  They often point to a tendentious “experiment” performed some years ago by ABC News in which would-be armed civilians are suddenly confronted with armed gunmen, who almost always were able to quickly engage and overcome the civilians.  But of course, in these experiments, the armed gunmen were trained security professionals who were there for the specific purpose of taking out the civilians, not crazed momma’s boys acting out videogame fantasies in real life. 

It seems doubtful that in any of the mass killings cited above, the killers would have selected their targets had they believed there was a likelihood of being engaged by an armed guard or civilian, or persisted in their rampages had they simply been confronted by one.  This was demonstrated most dramatically in the 2012 Clackamas mall shooting, in which a gunman, heavily armed with an AR-15 and hundreds of rounds of ammo, fled and committed suicide after being confronted by a civilian concealed carry permit holder.  The civilian permit holder did not even get off a shot, but it was enough to terminate the incident.  The gunman managed to kill two people and wound another; had he not been quickly confronted, the casualties would have undoubtedly been much worse.

If President Obama were really interested in curtailing mass shootings, he would call for liberalized issuance of carry permits to responsible citizens nationwide.  Don’t hold your breath on that.