We have yet another mass shooting in the US, this time of nine people in California. These mass shooting are becoming so frequent that they hardly raise much of a ripple in the media unless the numbers of the dead are large (as in this case) or the shooter had some sort of ideological grudge that can form the basis of media speculation tying it to larger national political issues. In this case, the victims were co-workers of the alleged shooter so it seems like it was workplace motivated.
But what struck me was the amount of ammunition that police found in his home.
The man who killed nine people in California this week had 12 firearms, more than 20 cans of petrol, and approximately 22,000 rounds of ammunition at his house, police say.
Guns were hidden in crawl spaces and doorways, a spokesman told reporters at a press conference. The home was “very cluttered”, he said.
Officers said Cassidy was armed with three semi-automatic hand guns when he opened fire after a morning union meeting. Sheriff Laurie Smith added on Friday that Cassidy’s locker at the rail yard had “materials for bombs, detonator cords, the precursors to an explosive”.
Cassidy’s ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, told the Associated Press news agency that he told her he wanted to kill his colleagues, but she had never believed he would do it. Doug Suh, a neighbour of Cassidy, told the Mercury News that he was “lonely” and “strange”.
This person did not seem to be part of any movement aiming to foment a revolution (at least as far as we know so far) so why would he need so much weaponry? The number of guns and the amount of ammunition is way more than anyone could possibly need for self-defense or even if one wanted to indulge in a mass shooting. You cannot carry twelve weapons with you on a shooting spree. If one shot ten rounds every day, it would take you six years to use up that amount of ammunition.
I understand that there are some people with gun fetishes and there are various psychological theories as to the reasons. But ammunition fetish seems even harder to understand.
But what is even harder to comprehend is how someone could buy so much ammunition and not have the authorities alerted. With prescription drugs there are at least some precautions in place, however imperfect, to try and track usage so as to raise alarms if someone is buying too much. Such drugs tend to harm just the purchaser. It is utterly absurd that we do not have at least some checks on large purchases of things that can be used to harm other people.