A headline on page 1 of today’s Chicago Tribune read: "Foolproof gun laws elude states". A headline on page 10 read: "Angry parents push for gun control". But gun control was not the problem at Northern Illinois University. While the gunman bought two guns legally, he bought two others illegally. Even outlawing guns would not prevent tragedies such as this – unless we are willing to search every house and take every gun away from every person.
Another headline on page 10 read: "Schools more proactive on mental health". There is a scary thought: University administrators deciding who is mentally healthy enough to attend college.
While it is easy for me to say this since my children were not at NIU, it is still true: A free society involves risks. It is impossible to avoid all risks, and any attempt to reduce risks too far will result in society that is not free. But even life in unfree societies involves risks. They cannot be avoided.
Basically, the tragedy at NIU was not about gun control or mental health or anything like that. It was about evil. The person who shot those students was evil.
We are not supposed to talk about people being good or bad. We are supposed to say what they did was bad, not that they themselves are bad. That is true in many cases. But not this one.
What happened at NIU was not a result of a good person doing a bad thing. It was the result of a bad person doing a bad thing. Some people may find that view hard to accept, but it is the only way what happened at NIU can be understood. It was an evil act of an evil person.
* This was the headline in the Chicagoland Final print edition.