Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Denver Shootings

First of all, I’d like to express my heartfelt sorrow and deepest, deepest sympathy to everyone affected by the truly horrible killings in Denver, this morning…

… to those who were killed; to those who were injured; to those who survived, physically unscathed, but who will have years of torment ahead of them as they come to terms with the horror of this atrocity; to the families of the dead, the injured and the traumatised, as they gather together and scream and cry and shout and try to comprehend what has happened; to the community, the emergency services and even the journalists sent to the scene to cover this awful story… and to everyone whose hearts are aching, right now, willing with futility that events could somehow be unfolded and made right.

It would be easy for the rest of the world to dismiss this as just another ‘only in America’ mass-murder-by-firearms, but it was two years ago, on the 2nd June, 2010, that 52-year-old Derrick Bird raced around the quiet, country lanes of rural Cumbria – my home county, in England – and left a trail of incomprehensible slaughter, killing 12 people, including his own twin brother, and injuring 11 more.

I didn’t know anyone killed or connected to the Cumbria rampage, but there was an almost tangible sense of shock that it could have happened… here… of all places… so close to home… in such a quiet and peaceful community…

It’s not like we have the same level of access to firearms in the United Kingdom, as is a ‘right’ (I believe?) in the United States.

There were two previous atrocities which brought about massive changes in the law regarding the possession of guns.

The first, in recent history, was 27-year-old Michael Ryan’s rampage in 1987 – know as ‘The Hungerford Massacre’ – where, armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, he shot 16 people dead (including his mother) and injured another 15 before turning the gun on himself.

This incident sent shockwaves through our society and led directly to the ‘Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988’, which tightened controls on the possession of firearms in the United Kingdom (except for Northern Ireland).

The UK has no ‘constitutional’ right to bear arms. Our police forces (in England, Scotland and Wales – which, along with Northern Ireland make up the United Kingdom), by the large, never carried firearms, and nor do they to this day, so why should the general public be allowed such ferocious weaponry?

The second atrocity, in 1996, was probably the most cowardly and disgusting act of internal slaughter in the history of Western society…

Thomas Hamilton, 43, a former Scout Leader, took four handguns into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane, and executed 16 children and one of their teachers. The children were, with the exception of one six-year-old, all aged five. The teacher, who tried to protect them, was 45.

Hamilton shot himself dead soon after, amidst the corpses he’d made of his victims, who simply went to school that morning; pupil and teacher.

In the wake of this, the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 were enacted, which effectively made private ownership of handguns illegal in the United Kingdom.

Yet, in 2010, Derrick Bird still murdered 12 people with legally licenced and owned shotguns and rifles.

This is not an ‘only in America’ problem…

I don’t believe in evil and I don’t believe that there are evil people, but, absolutely, there are people in this world who seem hell-bent on causing untold pain and suffering to others, and though I would have previously said that I felt  the availability of firearms was a catalyst to these slaughters, it’s a truth that the people who commit these atrocities would likely have found some other way to at least attempt to cause this pain, if guns weren’t available to them…

There were three incidents of mass stabbings of young children in a single month in China, in 2010.

It’s the person, not the weapon, that kills and maims, and it happens all over the world… not just in the US, not just in the UK, not just in China…

I just want to give some advice to anyone who feels they are becoming compelled to hurt others on this sort of level…

I am, I hope you realise, an advocate of the importance of communicating to others if you’re feeling down and depressed, especially if you’re reaching the point of suicide and you can’t see a way out.

Ask for help, always. Make it known that you’re struggling to cope; that your mind is torturing you and you just can’t imagine a future. There are people who will help you.

But if it comes to the point where you’re all set to actively go out into the world and destroy the lives of others… to go on a gun rampage… to slash up a class of kids… to rape and bury a child…

… do this one thing, before you take action…

… kill yourself.

If you are so determined and at the point of ripping apart the families of strangers or friends, do the right thing and end yourself before you begin their endings.


  1. Thank You Les.You seem to always know the thing to say
    Linda Seal Bates

  2. I'm not saying I agree with every single thing you said here, but the concept of "killing yourself before you'd ever ruin the lives of others" is actually a workable model. If only our governments would listen. We'd have less democide and would have to... truly govern ourselves?

    Outside of that, I don't actually think anyone should kill themselves either, but if that model prevents the particulars brought up here, then clearly it's the lesser of two extremely smelly options.

  3. Well said. I'd be surprised if you don't get at least a little static from this, but I completely agree with you.

  4. I agree with everything you have said here. You have found the perfect words to deal with a controversial/sensitive and significant topic. You are very right indeed to say its not an only American problem - I don't actually think that all the gun cases every single day all over the world can practically be covered by the news it would probably have to be one of those constant live news feeds. You are also very right to say that people who feel depresses/suicidal should seek help and well ultimately end their own life if they can't find peace. There was recently the case of Casey-Lyanne Kearney, Doncaster who was stabbed in a random attack and had a life ended at 13. This girl died with her life ahead of her and thats beyond sad and shocking! Once a life is gone its gone.

  5. I agree with you on every score. As an American citizen, I used to believe in the 'right' to bear arms. I no longer believe that we should have this 'right', nor do I believe that our police should bear arms. The violence is long past out-of-hand, and the move to take drastic steps in curbing violence is long overdue.

  6. I do not believe that many people would have the courage to speak this candidly. I do not believe in the death penalty, or evil people myself, but your points are so completely valid. Thank you for saying what no one else would likely say in the wake of this tragedy with such grace.

  7. Mass shootings are definitely not an "only in America" thing. Things like this, and worse, happen all the time throughout the world. It is horrific. America is lucky this doesn't happen more often, although, we would all hope that it never ever happens anywhere. Such meaningless.

  8. #interestingly #diverse #solution... this should spark debate, which I enjoy.

  9. Though I am a strong advocate against suicide, I whole heartedly agree with your blog post today regarding the devastation caused by the evil in the killer.

    Why does any ordinary citizen need a semi automatic weapon? And yet, if there were no guns, sick altered minds would find ways to destroy others. Jesus Christ didn't die from gunshot wounds. Mans inhumanity to man has been ongoing since the days before Abraham. We haven't come very far since then.. My heart goes out to the families of those victims. I know that tunnel of grief very well. It is along dark place with no top, no bottom and seemingly no end.

    I am sad for them. they will never be the same. I pray they give their grief a voice so it won't defeat them. Godspeed to those who are gone too soon. Thank you Les for another deep thought provoking post.

  10. The mind can be a terrible thing, especially if you are hearing voices that tell you to kill. Do not be quick to judge. Mental illness is real and sometimes can not be cured or tamed. Hallucinations are common among the mentally ill. This is a terrible thing that happened, but God is the only real judge. No one "in their right mind would even think of doing such a thing" The prisons are full of mentally sick people. Maybe we have a duty to be kind to all and we may play an important role in the lives of others. May God speed mercy, forgiveness, comfort to all. Amen

  11. Thank you for this post. I live in the US but I lived in the UK for a year so I've seen both sides and just as you say, it is the person who causes violence, the weapon of choice is irrelevant. I would like to remove guns from private ownership here, but I know that is only addressing a symptom of the underlying problem. What I DONT know is how to fix the whatever it is about society that causes people to commit such terrible acts. I hope someday we (as a global community) can seek out and cure the disease of war, murder, rape, and other violent crimes.

    Peace to you


  12. I believe that the second amendment "right" to bear arms is antiquated and beyond relevance in a society that is no longer agrarian with the typical threats such a society entails.

    While it's certainly not an "only in America" problem, violent crimes like this are all too common in this country. Columbine wasn't fifteen years ago, and Virginia Tech even more recent. Jonesboro. Evergreen. Colorodo has undergone far more than its fair share in these horrific events in the past two decades.

    Too many. My heart aches.

    I agree with everything you said. I wish I knew how we could fix this problem. Instead I am becoming less and less surprised with each breaking news story. The reaction has gone from pure horror to adding a resonant, painful "Again. It happened again" to the feelings that will never dull.

  13. “And the National Rifle Association says that, "Guns don't kill people, people do,” but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, "Bang!" That's not going to kill too many people, is it? You'd have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that…” - Eddie Izzard

  14. I agree Les. There is so much destruction in our world and it happens all over the world but because the US is such a dominant country it seems that their media tends to shine more light on it then others. You never hear about the atrocities in other countries. I honestly had no idea that those other events occurred. I am sad to say that I feel because the US has such a lax law on civilians owning firearms it makes it that much easier for these events to occur. If the laws were tightened and they made it that much harder to be able to purchase these weapons then the amount of these events would drastically go down. Now I know that it would not stop all of them but it would definitely be a step in the right direction. I do not believe that it is a persons "right" to bear arms. I think that we need to leave that "right" to the professionals, because clearly those who are able to walk into a sporting good store and purchase a gun might not be the most qualified to own that weapon.

    Thank you for your thoughts Les. I appreciate that there are still people who have no issue's speaking their mind and shedding some truth to what I think a lot of people might actually think and believe but are afraid to actually say it.

  15. First of all, I don't support the "right" to bear arms. I am too concerned about putting lethal weapons in the hands of people with poor impulse control.

    Secondly, I don't support the opinion that people with homicidal ideation should just kill themselves instead. You know what people like that need? Help and compassion. Life pressures, injustice, personal troubles and mental illness may all be involved to some extent. And, well, if you're in that sort of situation it becomes very difficult to think rationally or humanistically. And if you then have access to firearms and poor impulse control, I think you can see where this is going.

    If someone is tortured enough to have suicidal and homicidal ideation, the last thing they need is to be told to kill themselves. They need help. Compassion. Their situation made bearable, manageable, liveable. That's what's needed. Not being told to kill themselves.

    I understand the urge to tell someone that perfectly well, just as I understand the urge to attempt suicide, the urge to hurt oneself and the urge to hurt or kill others. However, if you can help people before that - teach them impulse control and get them help, for example - that would be preferable.

  16. (((hug you Les))) It is sad what happens. Hard to know exactly where to point and say that's the problem... And to blame without understanding leaves us as guilty as the one pulling the trigger. We have only one another to cling to and find love here and now while we may. Life is too brief to live in hate or fear. Love ya.

  17. So you don't believe in "EVIL?" Are you familiar with Cointelpro, MindControl, MKUltra and Directed Energy Weapons? These Crimes Against Humanity have ALL been what I consider "EVIL" Torturous Human Rights Violations via manipulations of innocent law-abiding citizens by those with dominating power & control whom illegally, without consent & Involuntarily Drug & IMPLANT and worse victims with the malicious intent to "change & control their minds, thoughts and behavior and often to brainwash them into committing crimes as part of Involuntary Human Experimentation for the betterment of the CRIMINAL PERPETRATORS. THIS IS EVIL TO ME & I'M CERTAIN THE VICTIMS WHOM ACTUALLY SURVIVE IT WOULD AGREE.

    However, your suggestion here of the mentally ill, brainwashed or mind-controlled prospective/alleged killer to kill themselves FIRST before taking others lives....well I think this was very Bold & Honest of you to state. I don't know MAYBE as a last result if nobody was able to talk "them" into getting immediate crisis Psycholoigical Help FIRST. However there are so many people in this world whom struggle with various Developmental & Mental Disabilities and may not be able to adequately control their impulses, anger or depression as easily as others whom are just Criminals (which is VERY DIFFERENT from someone whom is Mentally or Developmentally Disabled). I'm not trying to make excuses here but when you have a disability of the MIND I think the solution lies in providing increased Mental-Health Services/Care/Support/Therapies via Psychological Services legislative FUNDING to be indiscriminately distributed to ALL who need (w/o discrimination). MORE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES & PROTECTIONS FROM MIND-CONTROL CRIMES ARE WHAT WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT in my opinion. Nonetheless, I do understand where you're coming from but I ask you to consider the rapid increase in say those with Autism or Bipolar whom disabilities prevent them from always adequately controlling their imulses, behaviors, angers & state of do we better help and save them from EVER considering such attrosity Massacre Crimes? Lets all work to think about improving World Mental HealthCare and how best to make it available to the most people needing it in a timely & adequate manner.

  18. Simply, there are good and bad people everywhere in life. Unfortunately, the bad show up and lives are ended. To say we shouldnt have the right to bear arms would negatively effect the people that have a gun to protect themselves and their families. The bad are going to have a gun no matter what the laws are and the good are then screwed. I wouldnt normally want anyone to kill themselves, but if it comes down to the deranged shooter or an infant, adios dude!

  19. I agree with you that this problem is global and I agree that we do not need some 270,000,000 guns or some 88.8 guns for every 100 people in the US. However I do not believe that popularizing suicide is the answer. In 2005 about half of all suicides were committed via a firearm. Having lost my son's close friend just last year at 24 and in what seemed the prime of his life, leaving everyone in shock and utter disbelief, with my heart broken, my son's inconsolable and the family left in a daze half-alive, half-in denial, I cannot agree that this solves anything. However, lifting the stigma off mental illness such as depression and not labeling people and giving them access to proper care and educating the public about the pros and cons of different treatments , and taking the edge off glorifying Violance and violent behavior in our society, may be the beginning. More death is not.