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Driven to kill

November 6, 2009 1:52:56 PM PST
So what's going on? Two mass shootings in two days. Yesterday Ft. Hood. Today Orlando.

Angry and (relatively) young men, taking out their politics and frustration on innocent people. One angry about U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Muslims, the other angry about being broke.

I get it. We've all been angry.

But we all don't shoot people.

Since April 16, 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people in a dorm and a classroom at Virginia Tech, there have been at least 50 mass shootings that have killed three or more people. Total death toll: more than 200.

Sources tonight are telling ABC NEWS that the FBI is preparing to conduct a detailed investigation into all of these recent mass shootings. The feds will apparently try to craft psychological profiles of the shooters, and try to figure out if there is a better way to recognize the warning signs and take action before the lunacy occurs. There certainly were red flags raised about the Army officer who allegedly did the shooting at Ft. Hood, including recent rants about Muslims and American policy.

We can argue all we want about whether the guns were legal or not, and whether more or less gun control would have made a difference in each case. To me the answer is obvious - but that's not the point here, because you simply can't regulate human decency. And if someone goes whacko and decides to kill, whether he (and it's almost always always always a "he") got the weapon legally or illegally seems a moot point.

Of course if guns - and perhaps more importantly ammo - were illegal, then it might be harder to get a weapon. Make bullets $100 each - or $500 each - and I suspect there would be a precipitous drop in the sale of ammo. But people who want guns are going to get them.

And what happens after that is far more troubling than the consequences of the gun control debate.

These mass shootings can rip you emotionally from the inside out. I remember the first one I covered - in 1984, when James Huberty, an out-of-work security guard, walked into a McDonald's in San Ysidro near the Mexican border, after announcing he was "hunting, hunting humans."

He hunted 21 of them, including children, before he was killed by a police sharpshooter. I was working for the L.A. Times, and I remember leaving the newsroom late that night - I was the "re-write" reporter, taking notes from my colleagues in the field and writing a story - and then bursting into tears.

We tend to compartmentalize the emotions of these events while they're unfolding - how could it be otherwise? - but when it's over, we are all human. And we react.

We'll have the latest on the both shootings - and the ongoing investigation into what happened at Ft. Hood when an Army doctor opened fire, tonight at 11. And World News with Charles Gibson tonight expands to a one-hour newscast, to deal with developments in both shootings.

Also at 11, we'll have the highlights from the last official event of the 2009 baseball campaign - the so-called Parade of Champions in Lower Manhattan honoring the Yankees as World Champions.

And Lisa Colagrossi has a sign-of-the-times story about people who are in long-term car leases but need to get out of them, because of the economy. Tonight at 11, you'll hear about Swap-A-Lease.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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