The dregs of my exchange with the Kevin Baker Fan Club are still carrying on back at the original thread, and it suddenly occurred to me what it was Baker's fatuous suggestion of how the Norwegian victims could supposedly have saved themselves reminded me of. It's Protect and Survive - the infamous series of Public Information films to end all Public Information films, that would have been shown on TV had there been a significant and imminent danger of nuclear war. They contain a series of incredibly complex and faintly ludicrous instructions about how people should spend every waking moment before the potential Soviet attack "making sure everything is ready for you and your family". It was of course the ultimate distraction technique on behalf of the government - the problem we face is not the weapons, or our trigger-happy attitude to using those weapons, the only problem is your own lack of readiness. You see, thermonuclear war needn't be the big deal everyone thinks it is - it's perfectly survivable as long as you're prepared. So if you get killed, it's nothing to do with our recklessness as a government, it's entirely your fault for not choosing the correct "fallout room", fortifying your "inner refuge" with the requisite number of hardcover books, having sufficient supplies of tuna to last for at least fourteen days, and having enough batteries to listen to the BBC Wartime Service on your trusty transistor radio.
And so it is with the Kevin Baker Fan Club. A psycopath kills dozens with legally-obtained weapons? Oh, it's not the weapons or the laws we should be looking at, that's a peripheral issue. The only problem was that Norway failed to introduce a National Indoctrination Programme advising young men that in such a situation they are required to calmly attract the gunman's attention by running towards him and pelting him with rocks. You see, widespread gun ownership is no big deal, and gun massacres are perfectly survivable. If you don't survive them, it's largely your own fault.
In truth, of course, while some people would have survived a nuclear attack, that would have been principally down to the luck of their location as much as anything. For most people, the advice in Protect and Survive would have been utterly useless. All that the absurd perception that an individual could "take responsibility for his own survival" achieved was to give certain people an alibi for not focusing on what should have been the first and only priority - making sure the unthinkable never happened in the first place. I'd suggest the same truth applies to potential gun massacres of the type we've just seen. Whatever Kevin and co might like us to believe, it's really not OK if these weapons are everywhere - some attacks are not survivable, however much responsibility we all take for our own personal safety.