Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How do you identify a dangerous individual?

In the aftermath of the tragic Virginia Tech killings, many people were sure they knew who the shooter was: a young Asian man who had resided in Ambler Hall, and who posted pictures of himself with pieces from his gun collection on his Facebook Webpage.

The people who assumed this young man was guilty were wrong. This was a normal, happy young man who was interested in guns. He was similar to hundreds of thousands of young men and women who go hunting or target shooting, or who join the police or the armed forces. Interest in guns is not itself pathological. Vice President Dick Cheney is clearly fascinated by guns. He uses them for recreation, in a sport somewhat resembling hunting. He buys birds, and has them released in front of him at which time he shoots them. We don't suspect that Cheney is about to commit a mass shooting, or shoot a human being intentionally.

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