What a tragedy at Virginia Tech. The university is saying that the gunman was a student. One of the first things they cleared up is that it has nothing to do with terrorism. Now they're saying the killer was a South Korean student, that he had only one gun, and that he committed suicide.
It's the big story in the Spanish media, too, top story on the news last night and banner headlines in the press this morning. Says La Vanguardia, "The massacre brings that certain cult of guns that exists in the United States back to the forefront of the news," in its page 2 signed editorial, and mentions Columbine High and the Amish elementary school. Eusebio Val's lead on the page 3 news story is, "A demented individual and too easy access to firearms yesterday again created a deadly cocktail in the United States."
They did something I've never seen before: two La Vanguardia reporters used MySpace to contact Virginia Tech students and get their responses, which are published on page 6. One of the students told them to go fuck themselves, and they printed it.
The TV3 afternoon news is just kicking off right now at 2:30 and Virginia Tech is the lead story; the second sentence had something to do with American society being shocked, which it is, and the "eternal" debate over legal guns, which exists mostly among the European media and academic elite. I did notice that InstaPundit was arguing that if some of the people on campus had had guns, this wouldn't have happened--guns are not permitted on the Tech campus, except I suppose in the hands of the police and security guards. I dunno; if you've got a crowd of 25,000 people on campus every day, it might be a good idea if they're not carrying guns.
Now they're doing a piece on Michael Moore and "Bowling for Columbine," saying that in the US there is a gun culture that goes back to the foundations of the country, and that the right to bear arms is in the Constitution. They interviewed some Catalan history professor saying that the right to bear arms goes back to the 18th century "but now, for God's sake, we're in the 21st." They blamed the NRA and John Wayne and Clint Eastwood for "the place of firearms in the American collective imagination," with film clips of "The Alamo" and "Dirty Harry" included. I didn't know we had one of them collective imagination things. Quote from TV3's web site: "In the United States no type of license is required to own a gun." That's wrong.
Mayhem.net, a truly sick site, has a list of the worst mass murderers of all time. Top US school killer was Andrew Kehoe, who blew up an elementary school in Michigan in 1927, killing 45 people. Top spree shooter was Martin Bryant, who shot 35 people to death in Port Arthur, Australia, in 1996. Most notorious spree shootings: George Hennard killed 23 people at a Killeen, Texas Luby's cafeteria in 1991. James Huberty killed 21 people at a McDonalds in San Ysidro, California, in 1984. Charles Whitman killed 18 people from the tower at the University of Texas in Austin in 1966. Top European spree killer: Thomas Hamilton, who killed 17 people at a preschool in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996. Second is Michael Ryan, who killed 16 people in Hungerford, England, in 1987. Latin America's Number One: Genildo Ferreira de Franca, who killed 15 people in 1995 in Natal, Brazil. The top US post office shooter was Pat Sherrill, who killed 14 people in Edmond, Oklahoma, in 1986. Canada's Number One was Marc Lepine, who killed 15 people at a Montreal university in 1989. The Columbine killers murdered 13 people in 1999.
More European spree shooters: Eric Borel killed 13 people in Cuers, France, in 1995. Richard Durn killed 8 people in Nanterre, France, in 2002. Mauro Antonello killed 7 people in Chieri, Italy, in 2002. Mattias Flink killed 7 people in Falun, Sweden, in 1994. Josef Gautch killed 6 people in Austria in 1997. Jean-Pierre Aillan killed 5 people near Rennes, France, in 1996. Tommy Zethraeus killed 4 people in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1994.
And check out this one:
Jesús Andrés Iglesias (4) Before being riddled with bullets, Jesús -- a 40-year-old, mentally disturbed man -- fired more than 30 shots with his double-barrelled hunting rifle at a religious procession passing below his window. The "Corpus Christi Massacre" as it was immediately dubbed by the Spanish media, ocurred in Herreros de Rueda, a tiny village of 35 inhabitants near León in northwest Spain.
Three people in the procession - Victorico Martínez, 73, Herminio Martínez, 72, and Eva González, 22 - were shot in the back and died on the spot. A young sergeant of the Civil Guard died during the ensuing gun battle. "Everyone knew the killer was disturbed, loco. But why did the police let him keep his guns? Why was he allowed a licence?" one of the villagers said. "This is what happens when you allow just anyone to have a gun."
The killer had a history of confrontation with the villagers. He was often abusive and threatening. He was known to fire several rounds from his rifle every night into the trees in his yard. "We complained several times to the Civil Guard," one villager said, "but they never did anything. They said that he hadn't hurt anyone."
The US has quite definitely had more spree killers than Europe, but Europe's not doing too badly in the standings. There are also a lot of people from Russia, Australia, and New Zealand who went on shooting sprees.
As for your standard pervert weirdo serial killers, Europe's right up there with us, too. Erzebet Bathory and Gilles de Rais are legendary. Harold Shipman may have murdered as many as 300 people. Seems that Weimar Germany produced a particularly large amount of them, with four (Bruno Ludke, about 80 kills; Karl Denke, more than 30; Fritz Haarman, at least 27; Peter Kurten, 9) operating during that period. Hungarian Bela Kiss killed 24 during World War I. Frenchwoman Helene Jegado, a mass poisoner, killed at least 23 in the 1850s. Thierry Paulin and Jean-Thierry Mathurin killed 21 in Paris in the mid-1980s. Lucian Staniak killed 20 in Poland in the mid-1960s. German Gerd Wenzinger committed 19 murders in Germany and Brazil during the 1990s. Leszek Pikalski killed at least 17 in Poland in the 1980s. Donato Bilancia killed 17 in the Genoa, Italy area in the 1990s.
Spain's top serial killer, Jose Antonio Rodriguez Vega, killed at least 16 in Santander in the 1980s. He was murdered in prison by fellow inmates in 2002.
All of these serial killers outmurdered Jeffrey Dahmer.
More European serial killers: Dennis Nilsen killed 14 in England in the early 1980s. Thomas Quick killed at least 15 in Sweden in the late 1990s. Joachim Kroll killed 14 in West Germany in the 60s and 70s. Peter Sutcliffe killed 14 in England in the 70s and 80s. Marie Besnard, another poisoning Frenchwoman, killed at least 12 in the 30s and 40s. Jack Unterweger killed at least 12 in Austria and the US in the 90s. Fred and Rosemary West killed at least 12 in England in the 70s and 80s. Joseph Vacher killed at least 11 in France in the 1890s. Marie Becker killed 11 in Belgium during the 30s. Henri Landru killed 11 in France in the 1910s. Martin Dumollard killed 10 in France in the 1860s. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed 9 in England in the 1960s. John Christie killed 8 in England in the 1940s and 50s. Jean-Baptiste Troppmann killed 8 in France in the 1860s. Guy Georges killed 7 in Paris in the 1990s. Hungarian Andreas Pandy killed between 6 and 13 in Belgium in the 1970s. Ferdinand Gamper killed 6 in Italy in the mid-90s. Marc Dutroux killed at least 5 in Belgium in the 1990s.