I read the local paper in the morning. From time to time word comes of a shooting by a disgruntled citizen, employee or student. A sad thing, the scarcity of gruntle in some folks’ lives.
From these events I have been learning something important about the perceptual relativity of time. For example, in the recent Binghamton shootings it took 43 minutes for the police to enter the building after the first 911 calls. It turns out that if you’re huddled in a basement wondering if death is stalking you, 43 minutes is a very, very long time.
If, on the other hand, you’re a SWAT team that has to be called in from various life pursuits, assembled, geared up and briefed, rushed to the unfamiliar scene of an unusual occurrence where the situation then has to be sized up a bit so that more lives are not needlessly lost in a reckless cowboy charge into the teeth of unknown dangers, 43 minutes is not very long at all.
Given this understandable disagreement about the nature of time, calls for arming the population and withdrawing the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence do make a certain sense. As usual then the question is whether the cure is worse than the disease.