Thursday, April 10, 2014

Knives, Not Guns in Murrysville

Even though many people were injured and injured severely, this would be a completely different scenario if a firearm was in place.

Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana, speaking about the April 9th carnage at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

Yes, the pro gun wits are already making jokes about the government forcing everyone to register their cutlery and Barack Obama trying to figure out a way to ban knives. However, deep in their dark hearts they know if there had been a couple of Glocks, or a Bushmaster .223 laying around his parent's house, Alex Hribal would have used them in the halls of Franklin Regional on Wednesday. Instead, because the gun option wasn't available, he was forced to launch his savage attack with what has been described as two steak knives.

Before he was tackled by an assistant principal and a gutsy senior, Hribal managed to stab 20 fellow students and a school security guard. One of his victims, Jared Borger, remains in critical condition, although Dr. Puyana told NBC he felt a second operation last night probably got him through the deepest part of the life and death crisis. Everyone else is predicted to recover fairly quickly.

The rest of the account is so numbingly familiar it is like we are watching an endless remake of some dreadful movie. Only the characters and location change, the plot remains exactly the same.

There are conflicting reports about Hribal's high school social status and popularity. In addition there are rumors he was bullied, which are countered by claims no one ever gave him a hard time. His attorney was quoted by NBC as saying, "This is a nice young man. He's not a loner; he works well with other kids at school." While that theory is all fine and good, some students who were interviewed painted a different picture. They said he was very quiet, stayed to himself and--as one put it--"He was a shadow in the hallway." As if to confirm the assessment early stories say when Hribal arrived at school yesterday he was wearing all black.

Sounds a tad familiar doesn't it.

Patrick Thomassey, Hribal's lawyer, was also quoted as saying, "There is no evidence the family is dysfunctional." He added, "If there was something wrong with him, he sure hid it well."

Actually, Mr. Thomassey might want to rethink saying such things to the press. Let's face it, right now there is only one plausible defense for his client--who has been charged as an adult--it would be to argue Alex Hribal is utterly bats.

The counselor described Hribal as confused and scared. One report says after he was subdued he cried out he wanted to die. Authorities have seized his computer in order to find a reason why he went off, as if there would be only one. There is another report of an angry, or threatening phone call between Hribal and some unidentified person the night before he became the latest in a long line of teenagers who have gone berserk.

The truth is no one knows the why and at this point the accused is not talking to police.

We've always been a culture of indiscriminate violence. Our history is full of war and murder most foul on both a mass scale and a personal one. So it might be reasonable to think now that everyone with a twitter account and smart phone has become a journalist with an instant global audience, it only seems like we've reached some terrible tipping point.

I tend to go another way. Something awful has happened and we have no clue what it is and certainly no answer for it. It wasn't a mass moment of craziness, not some vast tectonic shift which jarred all our brains into poisonous jelly. It crept up on us like the fable of not knowing the water is getting hot if the dudes cooking us in a huge iron pot raise the temperature by only one degree every few minutes.

Honestly, I'm as clueless as everyone else when it comes to doing something about it. The only thing I know for sure is, Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana was right. As horrifying as it was, the Franklin Regional High School student body caught a break because guns weren't involved.

You can take it to the bank.


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