Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Random Thoughts on Shootings

Someone on The Corner linked to this account by a fellow who was on campus during the 1966 campus sniper incident at UT Austin.

There were about thirty students already there looking out of the windows onto the south mall when the professor entered the room. He actually began class but could not seem to get the attention of the students. He followed the class’s attention out on the mall just in time to see an Austin policeman gunned down trying to move students to a safer area next to the mall. A security officer came into the room saying someone was shooting from the top of the tower. We evacuated the classroom rather quickly. The hallway and basement were the safest places to be but I decided to go up to the top floor offices to get a better idea of what was happening.

None of the professor’s offices were occupied except for one whose door was open. As I walked down the hall toward that office the sound of a large caliber rifle thundered from that open doorway followed by two men talking. After all the bizarre events of the last few minutes it didn’t seem strange to me when I peeked around the office doorway to see one professor shooting a deer rifle at the top of tower while the other fed him ammunition. It never entered my mind to question why an English professor would have his deer rifle in his office complete with boxes of ammunition. This was Texas after all. Guns were commonplace. From the office windows, we could see the top of the tower clearly. Small puffs of smoke were coming from the rifle of the sniper on the observation deck. The large glass faced clock above the observation deck was shattered from others shooting back at him. The professor ran through several boxes of shells before running out of rounds. My ears were ringing.

I'm very fond of my adopted state, but I have the feeling that UT Austin doesn't have quite the same atmosphere as in 1966. Still. What a story.


On a different note, apparently this Asian-American VT student was widely reputed to be the shooter. His blog detailed his gun collecting enthusiasm, and mentioned that he was bummed over his recent breakup with his girlfriend.

As it happens, he had nothing to do with it all -- but apparently his blog has been flooded with visitors, he's been getting death threats (hadn't anyone heard the real shooter was already dead?), and the police have spent some time with him.

I was mildly amused that one of the pictures of his guns that had people worked up was of 14 Russian M44 bolt action rifles. I have a M91/30, the slightly longer model on which the M44 was based. Mosin Nagants may be cheap (the M44s sell for about $70) but they have got to be the hardest and slowest bolt action in the world to cycle. Works great as a tent pole, canoe paddle or club, though. Buying 14 of those may be a sign of poor priorities, but it probably doesn't indicate you're dangerous. (Especially as collecting MilSurp rifles usually involves filing papers with the ATF and your local chief of law enforcement -- not exactly the normal behavior of someone contemplating crime.)


"This is why I don't want to have children," announced one of my female co-workers. "You never know what's going to happen to them. It's scary. How can you have children in this kind of world."

"It's the only one we've got," I replied.

I'm never quite sure what to make of these kind of comments. Why should the realization that the world is at times dark and terrible incite in one the desire to avoid sources of hope?


Entropy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Foxfier said...

I don't get it, either.
The first year of my life I slept each night with my mom's hand on my chest, to make sure I was breathing. No real reason to be scared that I'd stop-- just fear that her baby would be gone.

If mom could, she'd STILL do that! But she isn't that selfish... perhaps it's a sort of mix of selfishness, fear and protective love, to wish to not expose a beloved to danger?

Dymphna said...

I can understand. I can't have children but frankly, sometimes I look at the news and I'm almost glad of it.

David said...

One is reminded of Jesus' prophecy about how a day would come when people would cry out "blessed are the barren wombs and the breasts that have never suckled" - not because our Lord was "anti-natalist" but simply as an objective description of how people would feel at certain times.

I remember a student in our local newspaper speculating (around Easter, student newspapers think it’s edgy to promote anti-Christian agitprop around Easter) who speculated that Jesus should have been aborted because of how horribly he was doomed to die. It struck me then, that there are a lot of people who simply haven't been paying attention to just how nastily most people eventually die, be it from the various debilities of old age, disease or violence. Or to go all pop-culture squishy, Bett Midler's "The Rose" comes to mind - "it’s the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live." My daughters’ lives will have been beautiful, intrinsically good and infinitely worthwhile even if this afternoon something horrific happens. I think Peggy Noonan's column from the WSJ is very good on this - we have become colder and more emotionally stunted in spite of (likely because of) all our bathos. But as the faithful we can rejoice in knowing that death is not the last word in the dying of all those lost to us at VT this week.

God bless you and yours friends.