Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Moderately Rampant Speculations on the Virginia Tech Shootings

Obviously, we're don't know most of the facts around today's Virginia Tech shootings, which of course, never stopped anyone (from random Internet onlookers to 24/7 cable news commentators trying to fill time) from speculating rampantly.

For my part:

* Chinese guy. Why did it have to be a Chinese guy? (If true, of course.)

* A lot of the Internet Tactical Ninjas are precoming into their tactical cargo pants with the hopes that the shooter is somehow linked to Islamic terrorism, so they can further validate their worldviews (especially the credo that "We're fighting them over there in Iraq so we don't have to fight them over here in the U.S.")

In the absence of more facts, they're grasping at the linguistic straw that "Asian" includes, say, Pakistanis, who are conveniently Muslim, forgetting that Americans tend to mean "East Asian" when they say Asian, because we are not damned Brits.

I suppose they could also hope that the guy is an Indonesian, Filipino or Malaysian Muslim.

It's actually a win-win for the red-blooded tactical ninjas: even if it doesn't turn out to be Islamic terror, they can always trot out the line that more guns (in the hands of concealed carry license holders) could have stopped this.

While I don't think the "gun free zone" idea is useful in any way, I don't necessarily think that adding more guns will help (and saying this as a guy who may someday -- someday, maybe -- apply for my own CCW).

* The number of dead is just staggering, especially if it turns out if it's just one guy armed with a 9mm handgun.

Discounting the first two victims, which could be your basic, run-of-the-mill double-homicide, the guy killed 30 people and wounded about 20 more.

It's a tally you would expect from a fictional character like Jack Bauer, not a real person.

Humans are fragile, and yet, simultaneously and paradoxically, hard to kill.

The current literature suggests suggests that between 70-80% of people in the U.S. who suffer "intentional interpersonal firearms injuries" [PDF] survive.

(See also: Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatal Firearm-Related Injuries --- United States, 1993--1998 and Lethality of firearm-related injuries in the United States population.)

And, traditionally, the ratio of wounded-to-dead in combat has been about 3:1, though in modern armies it might be as high as 8:1 (due to advances in battlefield medicine and protective gear).

Between the statistical probability of surviving a gunshot wound and the proximity of hospitals and trauma centers in the U.S., you might expect a similar ratio. But looking at some recent U.S. mass shootings, they seem deadlier than combat:

- The 1984 McDonald's massacre, with 19 wounded and 21 killed (1:1)

- The 1991 Luby's massacre, with 20 wounded and 23 killed (1:1)

- The 1993 LIRR shootings, with 19 wounded and 6 dead (3:1)

- 1999's Columbine, with 24 wounded and 13 dead (2:1)

And Virginia Tech, with a 2:3 ratio.

I guess spree killers are make things extra personal and go out of their way to kill their victims.

* The question of "Why didn't this asshole just kill himself?" after (or even before, as long as we're asking) his initial double-homicide comes to mind, of course, but rampaging on 50 random strangers takes it to another, completely horrific level.

I'm getting to the point where I think that having everyone wear explosive collars, that would be detonated by a vote of 90% of the people in the immediate area (minimum of 6 people) would be a good idea.


Jamy said...

You'll be happy to know the dude was from South Korea. I'd say this is a big win for the Muslims and it knocks the crazy Asian engineering student on a rampage explanation out of the ring too--he was an English major! Just like me. Uh-oh.

Joelogon said...

Happy. Yeah, thrilled. (I'd posted this late Monday/early Tuesday AM, when he was still "Asian" and there were reports about some Chinese guy -- I'm using the DC Blogs fix, so this blog is on GMT).

And when you snap and go on your rampage, I'm gonna say, "Yeah, I kind of expected that from her." -- Joe

ShanePBK said...

Hi Joe. This event certainly is interesting given that your unintentionally prescient post on Monday was about the NRA museum. I wonder will this spur the government to do anything on gun laws? A ghastly 170 killed in Iraq today puts the tragedy in VA into some sort of perspective.