Another April Tragedy
Thursday April 19th 2007, 1:18 pm

I am back home after my vacation visiting my sisters in Ontario. The weather wasn’t as good as it usually is in April, but it was a nice vacation. I spent this morning scanning the newspapers I hadn’t read during the past week. I only had time to read some of the news stories in order to get caught up on what’s going on in the world. Of course, the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University on April 16 is the most newsworthy and tragic, in this part of the world.

In recent years, it seems that a disproportionate number of tragedies happen in April. There were the tragic events in Waco, Texas and the Oklahoma City bombing, both on April 19, and the Columbine massacre on April 20, and now this. I know there was a connection between Hitler’s birthday on April 20, and the Columbine shootings, and many of these events are due to copycats. I don’t even want to think about what could happen with possible copycat shootings from people who have access to guns, and who are detached from reality.

The simple explanation is that guns are so readily available, and even people with a history of mental illness can obtain them. Even in Canada, guns can be obtained easier than most people realize. In the United States, where everyone owns a gun, tragic events such as this won’t change their gun mentality. In Virginia, the signs of mental illnesss in this young man were there for everyone to see. It is easy to place blame and to say that something should have been done, and he should have been committed to a mental hospital. It appears that he fell through the cracks, and nothing was done to help him or change the inevitable result. In North America and many countries, our society feels that people with mental illnesses are better off left on their own with medication, rather than being locked away in a mental institution. This is the reason there are so many homeless people suffering from mental illnesses who are left to fend for themselves on the street.

Easy access to guns will never change, and neither will some of the other things which lead to these tragedies. The only thing we can do is to be better prepared for when they do happen. Police forces are in the process of getting up to date maps and building plans of universities and schools in their areas. Plans should be in place, and everyone should be aware of the procedures, for reporting strange or antisocial behaviour to the authorities. The police can only do so much, so it is up to individuals to be more vigilant and notice the people around us. There have been many improvements since Columbine, but apparently more should be done.

I know sometimes it feels like we are getting closer to a police state, especially when we are travelling. With society the way it is now, sometimes drastic things must be done to protect people from harm, even if it is inconvenient and may infringe on the rights of some.

Anne