In THE MURDERING MIND, Dr. David Abrahamson, a psychiatrist who spent 30 years interviewing death row inmates, says that all murders are suicides gone wrong. That is why the perpetrator lies dead beside his victims in so many of these events. It is hard to kill oneself. Killing a wife and child, or a dozen classmates and a teacher is good insurance against backing out at the last minute.

If Dr. Abrahamson is even partially correct, then it is proof that the death penalty is not a deterrent against this kind of crime. It certainly was no deterrent in Colorado.

Also, automatic weapons were developed by the Army in response to Korean War battlefield studies which showed that soldiers, even when being shot at, are reluctant to return fire. Normal people, even those trained for 6 or more months in the art of killing, are reluctant to do so.

Automatic weapons were developed to make sure that once a soldier started firing, it would be hard to stop. Automatic weapons were designed for only one purpose, killing through the delivery of overwhelming firepower in a few seconds. That automatic weapons should not be readily available, especially to adolescents, seems like a no-brainer.

Furthermore, use of the death penalty, combined with wanton attacks on Iraq and Yugoslavia for failure to bend to our will, merely legitimizes the use of lethal force as a tool for solving problems.

If President Clinton and the heads of the NATO states, Governor Bush and the majority of the state and national legislatures all approve the use of lethal force, even against innocent civilians and children, to solve diplomatic problems; then why shouldn't alienated adolescents in Colorado follow their lead?

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf