This post is part of a series exploring the idea that storytelling, gameplay or entertainment of any kind may precipitate acts of violence in the real world. First post here.
Unable to prevent mass murder by focusing on opportunity or motive, you are now reduced to considering how to limit the means of such monstrous acts. From the outset you know this is not a particularly promising approach to protecting innocent lives because almost any object, including the human body itself, can be used to kill. Other than wrapping everyone in a straight jacket it will be impossible to prevent human beings from injuring each other, but with judicious limits it might be possible to decrease the total amount of carnage that berserkers commit in a given calendar year. You won’t ever know who you saved, and you won’t ever be able to keep people from going berserk, and some people will still die, but you might be able to limit some of the fatalities that would otherwise take place when individuals do become homicidal.
Although you rightly abandoned your plan to incarcerate people by the millions based merely on broad suspicion about their potential motives for going berserk, because doing so would still fail to prevent mass murders among the remaining free citizens, your realize that the same was not true for those individuals who were incarcerated. Even allowing for the fact that they might be more likely to go berserk compared with their free counterparts, perhaps as a result of being unjustly imprisoned, by virtue of being locked up the potential for any individual to commit mass murder would plummet. While supervision and isolation would certainly prevent some violent acts from taking place, even in the general population where the opportunity exists to murder people en mass, the means of doing so would simply not exist. Even if prisoners went berserk with regularity, the total amount of damage they could do would be limited — at most — to whatever carnage they could cause with a shank or other weapon before others intervened en mass.
Leaving aside full-blown riots, the likelihood of a single individual going berserk and taking out twenty or ten or even three people in a prison yard is severely limited by the fact that they will rapidly find themselves outnumbered. If they had the right weapons the plan would have a better chance of success, but among all the institutions known to man prisons in particular are notoriously loathe to permit the possession of exactly those weapons that make killing human beings easier. For example, while many prisons allow prisoners to express themselves with paints or drawing materials, including tools that could be repurposed to violence, few prisons allow personal expression through use of chemical agents or explosive devices. Even if you are the baddest of the bad in Cell Block C, the fact that you can’t get your hands on the tools that would allow you to kill many people quickly means you’re limited in the damage you can do.
Unfortunately, when trying to limit carnage outside prison walls such prohibitions do not apply. Not only are people allowed to own a wide variety of products that can be used to kill many people in a short amount of time, as long as those products are legal they can stockpile them for that exact purpose and nobody can tell them you’re not allowed to do so. Only after they’ve gone berserk and killed a bunch of human beings — thus proving that they are criminals if not also mentally ill — can citizens, by law, be deprived of many of the means of mass murder. [ Read more ]