Initial reports yesterday coming out about the Nashville theater shooting suggested that the killer was 51 years old and, since he attacked Mad Max: Fury Road viewers, I worried that it might be a copycat crime, another misogynist oh-so-coincidentally attacking viewers of a movie that anti-feminists online are grousing about, like the John Houser shooting in Lafayette. I responded worriedly on Twitter:
Now the would-be murderer's identity has been released and it's looking like it wasn't that at all. The suspect was a 29-year-old schizophrenic named Vincente Montano and his choice of a movie appears, at this time, to be random. If I was to guess, chosen mostly because it was a discount theater. Of course, being schizophrenic doesn't mean that you don't live in the world and get your ideas from it, but barring further information, I think it's safe to say that this guy's choice of a movie theater may have been inspired by other shootings, but that he didn't have some weird political agenda. So that's very good news. Even more importantly, he didn't kill anyone. In fact, calling the incident a "shooting" is misleading, because the guy didn't have a gun.
This is the gun the movie theater suspect had. Although it looks like a real firearm, it is an airsoft pistol. http://t.co/mixi9LGc9Y— Metro Nashville PD (@Metro Nashville PD)1438820766.0
He inflicted minor, treatable injuries on three people with pepper spray and he managed to hit one guy with a hatchet, but apparently it wasn't too bad.
There is a lesson here. Every time some maniac shoots up a crowded place, killing people and dealing out extremely serious injuries to others, we have conservatives bleating about how guns don't kill people, people kill people. But if you give the same crazed maniac a hatchet and pepper spray instead of a gun, you quickly learn how dumb that argument is.
Of course, it was a dumb argument on its surface, because the same people who claim to believe that it's just as easy to kill with a knife or a rock to the head as with a gun? They turn around and claim that what we really need is more guns, so that armed civilians can take out shooters. This argument only works if you assume that guns are more efficient killing machines than other weapons, or else all the armed citizenry would need to protect itself is hatchets and pepper spray.
Now, let's be clear that what happened here---a man without a gun attacked some people and hurt them mildly but was killed by police before he could inflict real damage---is infinitely preferable to what conservatives propose, which is shootouts in crowded spaces between wannabe heroes and mass shooters. The shootout model just ensures that said wannabe heroes will accidentally hit innocent people, make no mistake. But I also want to be clear about how disingenuous the "guns don't kill people" maneuver is.
This non-shooting sucked. But it would have been way worse if this guy had a gun. This fact is unavoidable and yet somehow we, as a country, just cannot deal with the obvious conclusions.