We can’t. But we can reduce the frequency of them and the number of victims of each attempt.
If reducing both how often they occur and how many people die at the hands of successful madmen appeal to you the answers are simple but not easy. Let’s break this down into the two goals. Other goals are also possible. You may think of one or more. If so it will add to this discussion.
1. Frequency: There are two ways to decrease how often someone shoots up a school, mall, or cinema:
A. Do away with gun free zones. Make sure each institution hires trained armed guards. As things stand right now almost all schools and a lot of businesses restrict even law enforcement officers from bringing firearms onto the grounds. This is not only foolish, it’s criminal. It is more important that there be someone there to shoot back at an attacker than it is to worry about the feelings of someone who claims to be traumatized by the mere sight of a gun. These guards must be well trained and well armed. They must have a reasonable chance of stopping an incident even if there are multiple perpetrators.
These killers are going to gun-free zones in an effort to rack up a large score of dead people. This brings up the other way to reduce frequency.
B. Stop identifying the shooter to the public. This includes the news media. Today everyone on radio, television, and the internet has told the name of the Oregon perpetrator, shown his picture, and interviewed his friends and family. That should stop. People who have the mental illness that moves them to mass killing want to be recognized even if they die in the attempt. They want to have their names spoken and their actions remembered by others with similar forms of illness. If they don’t get the notoriety they will have less reason to act out their fantasy.
2. Force the killings to include fewer victims:
The fact that there were no armed guards at Umpqua allowed the killer to kill whomever he wanted. Had there been one or more armed, trained guards to provide opposition the toll would have been smaller. As a matter of fact there was one armed man on the Umpqua campus, a military veteran, but he was prevented from interfering with the carnage. Had he been allowed to intervene he might well have saved lives.
The faculties if this school and any other that prohibit security from being able to stop an active killer bear a portion of the responsibility for the large number shot. Action should be taken against them for intentionally making the places they manage more dangerous with their foolish notions.