He approaches his victims, shaking. A handgun enters the frame, pointed directly at his former colleague. He whispers 'bitch' in a cold tone. He withdraws. He records his victims for a few seconds, hovering around. It's hard not to wonder why he didn't pull the trigger on the first opportunity. Was he having second thoughts? Then, suddenly, shots ring out. His first victim attempts to run, but can't escape. The others come under fire. The camera swings left and right and eventually the viewer can only hear the sounds. The sounds - gunshots, screaming, gunshots, weeping - are more horrifying than the video.
This isn't the first time people across the world have witnessed a recording of an American shooting of this nature. It won't be the last. Yet again, we ask the same question: How many shootings have to take place before we see progressive change in the gun control debate? Unfortunately, the arguments that have followed this incident are all too familiar.
They begin with attempts at progression. A friend or family member of the victim courageously vows to fight for gun control. They speak passionately about their loss. They appeal to their leaders. Everyone in America, one would think, agrees. The so-called liberal media note the need for change. They explain that this time - considering the horror - it might be different. The media in Britain - and assumedly across the developed world - explain the absurdity of the American situation. Some politicians offer their sympathies. Others - such as the President - make promises.
Then there is the backlash from gun enthusiasts. Apparently, the real problem is mental health. The solution therefore is to tackle mental health, not to implement gun control. Apparently, there are not enough guns. Apparently, this situation could have been avoided if the victims were armed to the teeth. This is a particularly absurd argument in this case, as there is no way to prevent a surprise attack of this nature. The right stick to the argument nonetheless. Then they descend into arguments even more absurd - scraping the bottom of an ostensibly never ending barrel - and blame everyone and everything in sight: Hip-Hop, video games, prescription medication, abortion, Marilyn Manson.
Commentators cite the statistics and make a seemingly irrefutable case for gun control. Some compare America's gun-related death rate to other developed countries. Others reveal the number of American children that die every year from accidents involving guns. Others cite the number of American children that die every year from massacres. Everyone is verily aware of the statistics, especially the gun enthusiasts. Statistics apparently have little affect on the American gun control debate. Gun supporters reject statistics in favour of some outlandish and diabolical ideology. If statistics mattered the way they inexorably should, there would be no debate. Indeed, there would be no guns.
Barack Obama has - yet again - promised to fight for gun control. He has failed in every previous attempt. He will fail again. His previous proposals - unfortunately - aren't advocating the abolition of the sale of guns. They are far more timid. Obama proposed a limited capacity of 10 rounds, background checks, financial incentives to protect the public against shootings and the restriction of assault weapons. Obama, I suppose, simply wants fewer shootings. The Senate nonetheless rejected his moderate proposals. They will inevitably reject the next round of proposals.
It's difficult to remain optimistic in this debate. Commentators in America, and indeed across the world, are aching from the constant smashing of heads against an ideological wall. One has to wonder how many incidents like this - recorded on camera and distributed worldwide - need to occur before America will implement progressive legislation. America remains the only developed nation without adequate gun-safety laws. It has been for many years. We, in Britain, don't have this debate. Britain started to restrict the sale of firearms in the 1903 Pistol Act.
I hope some good comes from this latest incident. If I have learnt anything from recent American history, however, I am regrettably certain that nothing will change. This is just another gun control debate - the same as the last. I imagine this article will be relevant in a few weeks or months, or whenever the next individual pops down to his local Walmart and decides to take a few more peoples' lives.Suggest a correction