'Disconnected' individuals and guns recipe for US-style tragedy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

The college shooting in Virginia is the bloodiest of its kind in the history of the United States, with 33 dead and 15 injured. When we look at past cases, it is easy to identify a trend - the murderers often are asocial individuals who have problems establishing interpersonal relationships.

These people are often 'disconnected' from society. They seldom eat out, have no friends and rarely socialise with others. In most cases, they live isolated lives in a virtual world that they have created for themselves.

This social detachment is classified as a kind of mental illness by some psychiatrists and can be cured medically - although I think being a loner doesn't mean one is mentally abnormal. As these people usually do not recognise their problems, most have to be referred to mental institutions by friends or relatives instead of seeking treatment on their own.

However, in today's world many people have little chance to interact with one another, mainly due to the advances of technology, especially with the internet.

With the help of technology, people can 'live' their lives without having to leave their homes. They can shop online and work from home. But without face-to-face interaction how can mental abnormalities be detected, leading to those affected being properly treated?

Not only does the problem of social isolation happen in the US, it is also quite common in Hong Kong. The alarming number of asocial youths in Hong Kong tells us that our city also could be at risk of such an event.

The main problem in the US is that it is far too easy for people to obtain guns. The law allows people to keep guns because the states expanded too quickly in the 1800s. There were not enough law enforcement officers around in the old days, so people had to arm themselves to defend their lives and property.

Today, the police system across the US is well-established and there is no longer a real need to carry guns around. The US government should try to restrict gun ownership to prevent future tragedies.

Hung Kit-sum, Tuen Mun