Yesterday's tragedy at Fort Hood has already given rise to a cottage industry of bloviation and idle speculation. Last night, I flitted around the cable universe. Sean Hannity asked if there was enough security on military bases. On Larry King, Dr. Phil offered the stunning insight that the shooter had had a break from reality and that this was a "major mental event." Rachel Maddow was more measured in her discussion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, noting that we don't know if the shooter suffered from it. Since he hadn't seen combat, perhaps he had not.
Mass shootings have set off kabuki rituals before, usually in the form of gun control debates with both sides rehashing familiar arguments. Then, sometimes, there's really nothing to be said. As Andrew Sullivan notes today, there was a tragedy in Killeen almost two decades ago when a deranged man drove his truck into a Luby's Cafeteria. I wrote about it at the time. The man shouted epithets about the county where he was raised and where the killing took place. Since the weapon of choice was a truck, there was no gun control debate.
I suppose it's worth noting that the Virginia Tech massacre did little to revive gun control debates or discussions of mental health on campuses. Sometimes even signal events fail to stir the national appetite for argument.