Americans are expressing outrage and sadness at Monday’s shooting spree, which took place just a few blocks away from the U.S. Congress. While feelings of sorrow are widespread, feelings of shock are far rarer.
Some Americans, including a former neighor of the shooter, have blamed shootings such as this on the fact that there are simlpy so many guns in the United States.
The neighbor said, "his face looks familiar, and I am so sorry about what happened to the people in Washington. You know, it's really - something needs to be done about the guns. There’s too many guns out here with the young people."
A common reaction in the aftermath of such events has been calls for tougher gun control; such calls were especially forceful when a gunman killed 26 people, most of them young children, at an elementary school in Connecticut in December. But proponents of the right to have guns counter such calls with claims that gun control is not the way to prevent killings.
Those opposed to stricter gun laws make the argument that guns are merely tools, and that those inclined to kill will use other methods if guns were not outlawed, and that tougher gun laws would only create hurdles for people who really need them for protection.
Ed Guevarra of Los Angeles stated, "guns don’t kill people. People kill people. They don’t need a gun to go out and kill someone. They can use a knife. They can use a screwdriver for that matter. They can use anything they want."
Gun advocates also argue that guns actually improve safety, as people would be able to shoot back and possibly prevent a gunman from killing many people in a short time.
Robert, a resident of Houston, Texas, said, "we need more guns, more people carrying guns, more laws with people carrying guns. At least somebody that has some self-defense [capability]... [then] he wouldn't have shot 12 people."
Others, such as California resident Nicole Luna, say that some of the violence could be prevented with better mental health care, and that in many instances of gun violence the perpetrators are mentally unwell.
"A lot of these people need help and they are just not getting the necessary treatment, and they act violently this way, and it is awful and I feel like we could have done something a lot sooner to stop all this and have more... mental health awareness," said Luna.
However, mentally ill or not, those affected by shootings won't have much sympathy for the perpetrators.
Debra Fine was shot five times in a shooting in Santa Monica and said, "there's so many people that ask what are these gunmen thinking. And I have to tell you: I looked into his eyes within 15-20 feet and there was no human being inside - nothing. So he wasn’t thinking anything at that point, he was just on terminating mode and there was no soul, there was no human."
Recent massive shooting sprees show that weapons capable of killing many people in a short time often get into the hands of mentally unstable people. Americans say something should be done to prevent this, but a solution acceptable to all remains elusive.