A Futile Search for Answers at Virginia Tech Begins

On September 13, 2006, a troubled young man named Kimveer Gill opened fire students in Montreal’s Dawson College, killing a young woman named Anastasia De Sousa.

After police officers engaged him, he shot himself in the head. Another school shooting rampage had ended, and the search for answers – and the quest to assign blame – began.

Today we are back at the same tragic place. The terrible killings at Virginia Tech ended just hours ago, and already at least one “expert” is pointing to violent video games as the culprit, even though nothing is known about the shooter (or shooters) right now.

Violence on television, in film, and even on newscasts is also sure to be criticized once again, as the Ottawa Sun’s Michael Harris did in the aftermath of Dawson, writing that “Hollywood is an island floating on a pool of blood” and that the pertinent question for video game players considering committing violent acts is not “why”, but “why not?”

The gun industry will also come under increased scrutiny, although it has weathered these incidents many times before.

Some people are even arguing that if Virginia Tech was not a gun-free zone, that if students were allowed to carry weapons on campus, they would have been able to defend themselves and lives would have been saved.

And then there will be the endless examination of the perpetrator’s psyche, his past, his motivations, his upbringing or lack thereof, and all of the other countless factors that go into creating a human being.

In the end there will only be more questions. The friends and family of the victims will have those too, and they will also have a terrible measure of pain and loss.

Soon we will think as little of this event as we do about Anastasia now. And then it will happen all over again, because nothing will have changed much in the meantime.

Even if definite answers are found, established interests will prevent action from being taken. It’s a truism that every school shooting involves guns, but guns are a constitutionally-protected sacred cow in America, and Harper’s Conservatives are dismantling the long gun registry in Canada.

Measures to limit violent entertainment will be equally controversial. In fact, I can’t think of a single frequently-cited “reason” for these rampages that is likely to be implemented, or guaranteed to have success if it were.

Humans are imperfect and complex creatures. Human societies are even more imperfect and complex. People kill each other for a million different reasons, it seems.

If we were serious about fixing this problem, there’s really only one way to do it: take all of the best, most-cited, most reasonable and most likely to work ideas and implement them all at once.

Meanwhile, we should tell our loved ones how much we appreciate them, and renew our determination to do whatever it takes to make the world a bit of a better place.

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