How Afraid Should Indonesians Be of Lone Wolf Violence?
The shooting spree in the US state of Colorado on Friday, just like the one last year in Norway, has reminded the world that nobody can be completely safe from the threat of violent acts committed by lone wolves.
In Indonesia, lawmakers are worried in particular by the fact that there are thousands of guns in the possession of owners without a license. Mahfudz Siddiq, a member of House of Representatives Commission I overseeing security affairs, said that Indonesia in this regard faced the same threat as the United States.
“Violence by individuals often occurs in the United States. It could be more dangerous than organized terrorism. In Indonesia, we also face the same threat,” he said, citing the rising number of armed robberies of minimarkets in big cities.
Patrons and employees of minimarkets have expressed concerns about their safety following a series of robberies using guns against minimarkets recently.
Some in the audience at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, thought at first that it was part of the show when a man in a gas mask burst into view, lobbed a gas canister and then opened fire. They quickly realized the danger was no longer on screen.
Three Indonesians were among the 58 injured. Twelve people were killed.
Formidable security is common at venues where masses of people congregate in tight spaces — sports events, concerts, nightclubs. After the attack, US theaters are reviewing what they need to do to make cinemas safer.
The Philippines has ordered tighter security at all shopping malls after what it called the “senseless killings” in the United States. A 17-year-old Filipino-American was among the wounded, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told Philippine government radio.
“We are asking mall operators to have security guards thoroughly search bags … in order that we can avoid a similar incident,” he said on Sunday. “We hope and pray that he will recover from the gunshot wounds,” he said of the teenager.
In Indonesia, police have acknowledged that violent crime is on the rise. Mahfudz said authorities should be very selective in issuing gun permits for civilians.
Police said on Sunday that all people applying for guns would have to undergo a psychological test to avoid guns ending up in the hands of mentally unstable people.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said thousands of people in the country possessed licensed guns and thousands more had illegal guns.
“We have made requirements much tougher for possessing a gun. They should pass physical and psychological tests to own a gun,” Rikwanto said, adding that police would immediately confiscate a gun if its owner violated the regulations, such as showing the weapon in public.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Norway paused on Sunday to commemorate the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago, a tragedy that the prime minister said brought Norwegians together in defense of democracy and tolerance.
Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has admitted to the July 22, 2011, attacks — a bombing of the government district in Oslo, which killed eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya Island.
But in a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Breivik had failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway’s commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society.
“The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway,” Stoltenberg told a somber crowd of a few hundred people at the ceremony. “The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won.”
Just like Breivik in Norway, it appears 24-year-old James Holmes planned the attack with “calculation and deliberation,” police said, receiving deliveries for months which authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs. All the hazards were removed from the Holmes’s apartment during the weekend.
Authorities wouldn’t discuss a motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent US history, as makeshift memorials for the victims sprang up and relatives began to publicly mourn their loved ones.
Neighbors and former classmates said although Holmes was whip-smart, he was a loner who said little and was easily forgotten — until this week. Holmes had recently withdrawn from a competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver, where he was one of six students at the school to get National Institutes of Health grant money.
Police said the young man used a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting cinema-goers. He bought the weapons at local gun stores and purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition, an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife on the Internet.
Additional reporting from AP, AFP