I think it is a fair assumption that someone who goes round the streets shooting people at random, and then turns the gun on himself, is not in his right mind. This being the case, why is it that the BBC has seen fit to devote at least half an hour – it may have been more – to coverage of this sad event? Why are the normal news programmes not deemed sufficient to bring us the news of the twelve dead and up to twenty-five injured? It is not that I am callous, or that I think this is not newsworthy. My concern is that if this sort of crime achieves the degree of coverage that it already has, then somewhere, there will be some other less than balanced individual who sees this as a way to ensure his promised fifteen minutes of fame.
I did not watch all of the BBC news broadcast, but I did see enough to be aware that the Hungerford and Dunblane shootings were rehashed, complete with posthumous notoriety for the perpetrators. Of course, the various gun lobbies are already fearful of the results as far as lawful ownership of guns is concerned, as every time such an atrocity takes place, laws concerning guns become more repressive.
But my concern remains the amount of publicity that such an event receives. There have been reports in the press of teenagers planning copycat shootings along the lines of the Columbine shootings, and for precisely the reasons of notoriety that such an event gathers. There will, unfortunately, be those who are watching their televisions and who are thinking that if they decide to go, they will take down with them whoever they will, for no other reason than to gain a little renown after death, even if only for the very worst of reasons. If you feel you have no friends and that society has treated you badly, perhaps you might also decide that you would take steps to make others sit up and take notice of you, for no matter how bad a reason.
I can only imagine what it must be like to be one of the relatives of those who were shot down in cold blood, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would not at all improve the situation to feel that my family’s suffering was being served up as early evening “entertainment” for a gawping nation, particularly when the killer is not only known but dead, and where witnesses, interviewed very shortly after the event, give out information that is demeaning for those who have died, and which is far more detailed than the rest of us have any right to know.