No one will rise up to defend a man who walks into an Amish school, lines young girls up against a blackboard, ties up their feet, and then kills them before killing himself. But a surprising number of people will inevitably rise up to defend his guns, to call the man guilty but his weapons innocent.
When Charles Roberts snapped, the tools lay ready to hand. It is not clear what led him to seek out a quiet country school in Lancaster County, Pa., but it is possible he chose it because he knew that it belonged to a trusting, insular community, where there would be no one to stop him from entering with shotguns and a semiautomatic pistol.
This is the third school shooting in a week. What will stick in almost everyone’s minds is the gross disparity between Mr. Roberts’s murderous intentions and the bucolic peacefulness of an Amish school in early October. But this killing is no different from the ones that took place in Wisconsin and Colorado recently.
The weapons were the same, and so was the conflict between the hideous assault of a damaged mind and the atmosphere of openness and trust that makes education possible. There are no simple solutions to this conflict. It is neither possible nor tolerable to secure every school or guard every child. Nor is it possible or politically tolerable to keep tabs on every gun. But in these killings we see an open society threatened by the ubiquity of its weapons, in which one kind of freedom is allowed to trump all others. Most gun owners are respectable, law-abiding citizens. But that is no reason to acquit the guns.
Suplemento Temático: Formación y Seguridad
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