Upscale people live in Wesley Chapel, FL. Recently, a moviegoer upset that a man sitting in front of him was texting, shot him dead and wounded his wife. The movie had not started.
Another patron, an off duty lawman, held the gunman until his arrest. The 71 year old gunman is a retired police captain, according to news reports. Others tried unsuccessfully to help the victim.
Wesley Chapel, the community that spawned Saddlebrook Resort, the home of many tennis greats, joins the locations across the nation where mindless shootings have erupted.
I suspect the gun lobby will defend gun rights. It may suggest that had other patrons in the theater pulled guns, the perpetrator would have been thwarted in his efforts. Perhaps the movie ushers should carry guns. Theater employees could stroll down the aisles ready to shoot or handcuff suspicious characters watching the movie.
The Wesley Chapel tragedy adds to the carnage that Americans have witnessed for decades. The first one I remember is the 1966 Texas University massacre by Charles Whitman, who shot and killed 17 people and wounded 35 more from his perch atop the school bell tower.
Whitman was a former Marine and hunter. He displayed telltale signs of mental illness. Now, killings by deranged gunmen are commonplace.
My recommendations to curb this slaughter remain unchanged:
· No one should be able to purchase a gun without a comprehensive background check.
· No one should purchase a gun without completing an approved gun-safety course.
· All guns should be registered.
· No military style weapons should be in the hands of the untrained.
· Magazine capacities should be limited to five rounds.
· Guns must be purchased through authorized dealers.
· Severe penalties should be meted out to those who ignore the above policies
· State mental hospitals and reception centers should be adequately funded and all U.S residents should have access to comprehensive mental health care.
I am not against guns. I own them. As an Army private in basic training during the Vietnam conflict, I trained on many types of weaponry. I practice gun safety at home, keeping them properly secured. Guns are very dangerous in the hands of the untrained or the mentally ill.
If reports are accurate that the shooter was a retired police captain, what could have prevented this tragedy?
In the weeks to follow, we will learn more about the casualties and the shooter. My thoughts and prayers are to the victim’s family; this needless calamity cannot be explained or understood.