On July 22, 2011, lone, rogue gunman Anders Breivik went on a killing spree in Norway. By the time he was apprehended 77 people, including children were dead. On July 20, 2012, James Holmes went on a killing spree in an Aurora, Colorado cinema. By the time he was apprehended 12 people, including children, were dead.
Both of these cases have similarities. Both gunman were apprehended at the scene. Neither resisted arrested. Both did not die at the scene.
In so many of these cases the perpetrator is killed at the scene of the crime, either at the hands of police or themselves. Many of these gunmen ultimately turn their weapon on themselves.
In 2011 Jared Loughner shot 18 people, including, injured Senator Gabby Giffords, killing six. He too was apprehended at the scene although in his case there was a struggle.
The US appears to on the whole support its peoples right to bear arms. Surely now though the easy access to purchase weapons and ammunition must be being considered.
Well if you think that, then think again. Since Holmes' killing spree the sale of guns in Colorado has increased. Gun classes have reported a surge also. This news may calm fears in the US but it would increase ours. The fact that you could be sat in the cinema with gun toting individuals prepared to use their weapons is worrying to say the least. It is a backward step. One that reverts back to hang em high days and vigilantes. That however is another article. Back to the gunmen.
What happens when these gunmen are captured alive? Obviously a trial follows. That is the justice system. In these cases, were guilt is never in doubt, the trial is more about ascertaining the mental state of the gunman and deciding what punishment will fit the crime.
In Norway there is no death penalty. Breivik will face life in jail or if deemed insane, in a mental institution.
In America the punishment so often depends on the State laws. Again though the trial will ultimately be about trying to find out what caused the attack. Most right minded people would see the ability to turn a gun on other people in such a way as insane. Does this mean that all of these gunman are insane?
The Courts would say no. How you determine the difference between madness and hate though is unclear. Yes psychologists will question, assess, interview and more before declaring sane or not. However if you are evil enough to commit torture, murder and more surely you are insane?
We will all assess the recent murders in a slightly different way but we will all condemn them. Those who do not must surely be insane themselves?
Sane or evil then will be the question. Premeditation in the US case will probably mean that an insanity plea is thrown out. Do you have to be sane to plot evil acts? The courts it seems would say Yes. Most people view a life term in a mental institution as a soft option though that may not be the case.
The trial will be followed with "what do we do with the gunman". In Colorado for Holmes it could be death by lethal injection.
We have no answers but think it must be time for change. It must be time to put in place practices which will prevent such massacres from happening over, and over, and over again. Having more citizens carrying weapons will not do that.