The guns of Winnenden and Geneva

One year ago today, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer shot 15 people to death in two small towns near Stuttgart, Germany. Then he committed suicide. Nine of the slain were students at a school where Kretschmer had graduated a year earlier.

One year and one day ago, Michael McLendon went on a systematic killing spree in two small towns in Alabama. He hunted down his own relatives and their neighbors. He killed eleven before shooting himself to death.

Kretschmer’s killing spree caused a nationwide revulsion in Germany, of a kind that we in the United States have forgotten how to feel. German President Horst Koehler was in Winnenden today to commemorate the dead, and to call for tougher gun laws. Last year the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg doubled the appropriation for school psychologists.

Kretschmer’s father, whose gun collection provided the weapons his son used in the rampage, expressed his regret by voluntarily surrendering his firearms ownership permit. The gesture has not prevented officials from charging him with the equivalent of manslaughter. Continue reading “The guns of Winnenden and Geneva”

The disaster in Huntsville

La Querida and I set out Friday afternoon for Huntsville, to see a performance by the touring American Shakespeare Center players. They were staging Beaumont’s comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). It’s not every day that you get to see a Jacobean comedy in Alabama that wasn’t written by The Bard™.

The unusual snowstorm had passed and the roads were clear. As we headed north on I-65, the radio reported a shooting in Huntsville, on the university campus. Two people were dead and four injured, and the “shooter” — a word that seems to have sprung from the lingo of video games — was in custody. The 4 p.m. shooting was the lead national news story for the next 24 hours. Continue reading “The disaster in Huntsville”