Recently, pundits worried if the mass shootings in a Texas church would inspire copycats to do likewise elsewhere.  But what is a copycat shooter if not someone who just finds a soft target and proceeds to mow down people there with gunfire?  Aren’t most of our more notorious mass murderers copycats?  Isn’t the past history of mass gun violence the act of mere copycats?

Aaron Alexis.  Seung-Hui Cho.  Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Nidal Hassan.  James Holmes.  Devin Kelley.  Adam Lanza.  Jared Loughner.  OmarMateen.  Chris Mercer.  Stephen Paddock.  Elliott Rodger.  Dylan Root. They all did the same thing:  in a pre-meditated way they all picked soft targets, where no one could defend themselves, and opened fire.  

In fact, they’re copycats of the worst kind, if not weak ones at that.  Simply repeating the acts of other deranged persons is no more thoughtful than duplicating someone’s previous deadly efforts. Seemingly, the only original idea of these criminals was how soft the target was and where it would be.

True, what all these cowards had in common was a sense that by simply aiming at an unarmed person and pulling a trigger they would be exercising the ultimate power – that they, in doing their ugliness, would have the last word.  From the moment they conceived their horrific deeds, however, they were no better than Columbine’s Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold – the seeming originators of mass killings.  And, in a society that grants so many individual freedoms, their kind will surely strike again – more gun control or not.

But, the trigger these madmen (and one madwoman) pulled is the same one that millions of Americans pull every day without committing a crime.  Indeed, the “targets” of these other gun-toting citizens are animals, flying skeet and tin cans.  Wasn’t it “friendly fire” coming from a bystander’s gun that ended the Texas rampage? Wasn’t it a bullet fired through the door in the Las Vegas hotel that ended the massacre there?

By contrast, these people are not copycats.  Nor is their gun-use illegal and they are hardly criminals.  Far from it.  Their courage and independence are what helped bring the Texas tragedy and others to an end.  They are the neighbors and strangers who wept along with the victims’ families and prayed for the speedy and complete recovery of the wounded.  They shouldn’t be punished by the enactment of thoughtless, emotion-driven new laws.

The copycats are to blame.  If anything, new laws ought to be narrowly targeted at them.