My old friend Jon Richards has long observed that people who go on killing 'sprees' (it's always a spree, isn't it?) have a number of defining characteristics. Chief among these is a propensity to keep themselves to themselves. Jon's theory is that we could arrest these people in advance and save everyone a whole heap of trouble.
He's come up with a useful set of questions that could be used by medical staff and law enforcement officials worldwide in the quest to identify future mass murderers. It's not quite Minority Report in terms of its sophistication, but I think it has potential. I'm reproducing the checklist here on Washed and Ready with Jon's kind permission:
1. Do you consider yourself highly intelligent but teachers or fellow colleagues don’t take you seriously?
2. Do you subscribe to Military magazines?
3. Do you constantly have to re-pave your patio due mysterious subsidence/lumps?
4. Do you collect military figures or toy soldiers?
5. Are relationships with girls difficult because they: don’t understand you/don’t return your
calls/think that hanging outside their bedroom window at 3am is strange?
6. How’s the shrine to Debbie from accounts? [NB: this question might catch them off guard]
7. If someone bumps into you in the street do you think: 1) never mind, 2) silly person, or 3) you’ll pay, one day you’ll all pay.
8. What’s better: an Uzi 99mm or M16 semi-automatic?
9. Do you keep yourself to yourself?
Jon writes: "Whatever they answer from 1-8 doesn’t really matter. If the answer to 9 is “yes” then bang ‘em up and throw away the key."