Thursday, April 19, 2007

What have I learned from the shooting?

In the aftermath of the VTech shootings, I ask myself what lessons have I learned from the shooting (besides all the obvious ramblings that I've done for the last two days). Maybe there is something that I can take away from this tragic event.

Firstly, I've learned that it's impossible to prevent someone from buying a gun in the US. The right to bear arms is enshrined in the country's constitution and a constitution defines the country. So, if it's every US citizen's right to buy a gun, what can we do to help level the situation? I certainly do not believe that arming everyone is the solution.

However, I personally think that if the poor students had not panicked, they could have over-powered the shooter much earlier. Maybe, some form of gun education should be compulsory. Teach people how to use guns responsibly, and show them how to protect themselves from guns. Hopefully, people will be better informed of what to do in such situations.

Secondly, I've learned that technology isn't the magic solution to these problems especially when the wrong technology is used. The fact that the university authorities had only sent out an email after more than 2 hours into the shooting just shows you that they didn't understand the use of technology. Just like you don't use snail mail for emergencies, emails are not meant for alerts (not that it would've done any good at that time).

Broadcast technology such as PA systems should have been used to alert the students. As most students these days have mobile phones, use the cell broadcast technology to send localised text messages to the students. Such technology is already being used to tell you where the nearest starbucks is. This technology should be deployed for emergencies like this. Making information available earlier would definitely have saved some lives.

Thirdly, I've learned that the student accommodations at VTech look just like the kinds of rooms that we used to have back at my old university. They are the kind of building designs that put function way over form. The rooms are typical of student accommodations, cosy (meaning small) and functional (meaning spartan). I've gleaned this information from the video shots that I've seen on BBC.

Finally, I've learned that when documenting tragedies, it is a good idea to use black and white photography. This makes the photographs look more solemn and grave. It also lends a surreal air to the tragedy, which will create a heavier impact on the viewer. Also, if there is blood in the photo, it will just make it look gray. So, the photograph will have less gore than is necessary to convey the message.

Furthermore, it's a good idea to bring a camera around with me wherever I go. It's not meant for shooting pictures of 'leng lui' (like some of my friends have suggested). By the time I get my camera out of the bag the 'leng lui' would have already walked on by. It's meant to document anything interesting. You never know what you'll bump into in a day.


Observer said...

HAHA..sure shoot leng lui la

Shawn Tan said...

eh, you try lar... susah man... by the time i get my slr out of the bag, turn the thing on, zoom in and focus, already zhao liao leh...