It is one of the great debates of modern times. Are the Moslems who decide to commit (mass) murder in The West related to the lone screwball gunmen who do the same. Are they all just loose cannon sociopaths with different labels but what amount to the same behaviours. At the moment of pulling the trigger they all think they are on the side of the just, soldiers fighting a society that deserves no pity. Chip on shoulder, manically focussed grievances, access to firearms , loners who live on the net, criminal teenage angst, etc. Big subject.
Tasmania is famous for its dinky towns, die for villages, quiet roads, world class beaches, great wine and sea food and early bed times. Its off the wall art gallery MONA I have talked about. But it has also as one of its most famous, make that infamous, sons, Michael Bryant. On the 29 April 1996 said Bryant went on a one hour shooting spree in the holiday site of Port Arthur and totalled 35 and wounded 23 others.
Bryant wasn’t very bright. He was deemed too dim to work and given a pension on leaving school. Nevertheless he got a job as a handyman to a lady who had won some dosh on the lottery. When driving together there was an accident, she died. Bryant was questioned but went onto to inherit the money , about £300k.
He travelled, he bought guns, he wandered around at night. In the meantime his dad tried to buy a bed and breakfast near the historic site of Port Arthur(A well preserved Victorian prison colony) near Hobart. The owner didn’t sell, Bryant’s dad got depressed and committed suicide. So far a rather sad tale. But it got worse.
Bryant saddles up and shoots the owners of the B&B. He then drives down the road to the Port Arthur site. In the cafe in a wicked 15 second burst he kills 15 and wounds 12. He moves into the gift shop in 90 seconds another eight lose their lives. He goes into the coach park and the killings continue. Some are made to kneel before he shoots. Then its onto the toll bridge, more die and then its onto the open road where he takes pots shots at passers by. He takes a hostage and holds out for 18 hours before he sets the house on fire and he runs out with his clothes alight.
Initially he doesnt plead guilty. But changes his plea and is given 35 life sentences with no chance of parole. Many have opined that this was in many case a strange case. As outside the initial killing there was no screwball religious, political, gothic, attention seeking reason which are the standard analyses for these actions. Whatever, a moral for me is, if a place like Hobart can produce one of the worlds most successful gamblers and one of the world’s deadliest mass killers maybe, I missed something.