Tombstone, Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Mass murder is often a suicide by cowards who are afraid to go alone.
Such appears to be the case in the tragedy which unfolded on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, two days before Thanksgiving, when a Walmart night supervisor in Chesapeake, Virginia, walked into the store’s break room with a pistol and opened fire. Witnesses say he said nothing, just started shooting people. One employee who had just started working at the store said he pointed the gun at her and just told her to go home. He killed six others and wounded several more before turning the gun on himself and ending his own life. Police later found a message on his phone describing his intention to kill himself and asking God to forgive him for the others who were going to die with him. The note included claims that other Walmart employees made fun of him and disrespected him.
None of the people that he named in the message as his tormentors were among the people he killed.
Of course, the murders triggered media and Democratic politicians into rants about the need for more restrictive gun control measures, particularly a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” ignoring the fact that the killer used a handgun. None offered any suggestions for specific measures likely to have had any impact on this particular tragedy. Instead, they fumed about “assault weapons” and the lack of sufficient “gun safety laws” and those who block their efforts to pass them. Reports suggest that the killer purchased his gun that morning, so we’ll no doubt see calls for “waiting periods,” along with claims that such a “cooling off period” might have given the murderer time to seek help or change his mind.
That’s a pretty big “might have.” There’s evidence suggesting that this does happen occasionally. Still, there’s also evidence suggesting that in many cases, once a decision to commit suicide or murder has been made, a bureaucratic delay is just as likely to stiffen the person’s resolve and possibly push someone on the brink into being even more aggressive in their efforts, as it is to cause them to reconsider their decision. Humans are obstinate and don’t like being told no. Historically, we’ve seen that many, if not most, mass murderers begin planning their crime weeks, months, or even years in advance of committing the act.
The murderer, in this case, apparently had no serious criminal record or any other disqualifying factor in his history which might have kept him from buying a gun. The fact that he got quick approval from the state’s criminal background check system when he purchased the gun that morning attests to the truth of those reports. Still, so-called “universal background checks” are one of the gun control extremists’ top priorities.
To them, the idea that you or I could sell a gun to a friend or neighbor without the benefit of a government permission slip is beyond comprehension.
The key thing that these gun control extremists – including politicians and media pundits – can’t seem to grasp is that guns don’t cause crime or violent actions.
Culture and mental issues do. For over thirty years, the US experienced consistent declines in violent crime, even as gun laws were liberalized around the country, and the number of guns in private hands rose exponentially. Violent crime rates fell to historic lows before the pandemic and the Democrats’ summer of “fiery, but mostly peaceful protests” when their “justice reforms,” “bail reforms,” and efforts to defund the police started pushing the numbers back up again. Despite the recent bump, violent crime rates remain well below the rates we experienced in the early ‘90s.
One thing this murder spree highlights once again is the foolishness of so-called “gun-free zones” and company policies that forbid guns in the workplace. Last June, I happened to notice the following question on Quora, a popular internet question and answer site:
“Can Walmart employees carry concealed weapons?”
In my reply to that question, I asserted that YES, anyone can carry concealed almost anywhere if they choose to. I went on to say that carrying might be illegal or a violation of company policy, but unless there are extraordinary security measures in place, such as metal detectors or pat-downs, and as long as the person doesn’t display their “concealed” firearm, then yes, they can carry. Then I explained the flawed logic that suggests that putting up a sign or instituting a policy somehow compels people to behave in accordance with that sign or policy. I suggested that these signs are just as absurd as posting signs declaring “No Illegal Activity Allowed.”
A Walmart employee chimed in to say that in her experience, employees are not supposed to carry in their “home store,” with exceptions for some managers in stores that sell guns. Somehow I didn’t find that reassuring.
It turns out that the murderer in Chesapeake had raised concerns among some of the employees. One of the employees who were in the break room when the attack began escaped by running out the door and has now filed a lawsuit against Walmart. In the suit, she claims that she filed a formal complaint about the murderer two months prior to the shooting and that her mother spoke with a Walmart manager on the same day that the complaint was filed, expressing concern for her daughter’s safety, but was told that higher managers liked the man, and so, punitive action was unlikely.
The suit claims Walmart and its local managers were negligent for failing to take any action against the night supervisor who later launched the attack. Given the circumstances, it’s easy to assume fault on Walmart’s part. Still, from the complaint, it sounds like the typical sort of grumping that managers and supervisors regularly receive from employees, complaining about “inappropriate” comments and “threatening” behavior. Employers and managers are obligated to look into such charges. Still, unless there are similar complaints filed or supported by a number of employees, it’s unrealistic to expect any drastic action. Most of us who have ever managed or supervised others have received baseless complaints about others’ “inappropriate” or “unfair” behavior toward subordinates.
The sad reality is that a few people lose their minds, but some do.
The number of people who experience total breakdown is, fortunately, a tiny fragment of the population. Still, the actions of a tiny few can dominate headlines for weeks and drive policy debates for years. Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to look back on an incident and think the warning signs should have been obvious, but things are rarely that clear in real time. Though virtually all rampage murderers display some warning signs in advance, similar “warning signs” are often shown by a huge number of people who are just a bit “odd” and never go on to engage in any violence. I recall that back in my military days, one of the operators in a neighboring section was voted “Most Likely to Murder His Section Mates with a Fire Axe.” The “award” was based on the guy having a rather dark sense of humor and some quirky ways about him. He and I are still friends with occasional contact on Facebook some forty years later, and he has yet to even threaten anyone with a fire axe or any other weapon.
Regardless of what weapon one of these people chooses, whether a pistol, rifle, knife, sword, vehicle, explosive, gasoline and matches or something else, the blame should be laid on the person, not the tool.
What remains clear is that policies forbidding guns, laws restricting guns, and regulations burdening the tens of millions of gun owners who will never harm anyone can never prevent these terrible tragedies from happening. Perhaps the most effective method of prevention is a smile and an open ear. Let’s try to keep that in mind as we deal with the “odd” people around us every day.