Arsenal syndrome

Years ago in college, I watched a student give a stimulating “how to” presentation on constructing a Molotov cocktail. When he finished, our astonished professor asked the freshman why someone needed to know this information. He honestly replied, “Because you have to be ready when the aliens come.”

Sure, the world is full of crazies. Some of them stockpile arms because of errant and paranoid beliefs. I pity the young man with a crate full of vodka bottles and a pocket full of lighters. But in all seriousness, I also want to understand the motivation behind the arsenal.

What thought occurs in a human brain when its owner acquires too many firearms? Is it a desire for power? Is it hoarding? Is it a shopping spree with a background check? I’d like to ask the police these questions now that they’ve detained a Crofton, Maryland resident and his 25-gun collection. The man in custody had a terrible agenda. But it had to start somewhere.

Sportsmen buy specialty guns for particular sports:  shotguns for clay pigeons, scope rifles for deer hunting, .22 bolt-actions for the range, even muskets for black powder shoots. That’s the acquisition and operation of firearms in a legitimate way. But the delusional collector buys guns for all the wrong activities. I fear a man with such a brain. He wonders about the best assault weapon to fend off his imaginary oppressors. . . and what can he buy with his budget. He craves more than any rational sportsman. He thirsts for ammunition, makes space for his arsenal, and spends time cleaning his guns. Partly methodical, partly insane.  Like the Colorado shooter, the Maryland suspect was able to calculate time and logistics on a backdrop of rage and confusion.

I hope that we can find a way to prevent this kind of runaway psychology. For now, we can only pray for what was lost.


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