If a young man, maybe even a boy, walks in to a busy shopping mall with a gun, and begins firing wildly, not aiming at anyone in particular, but nevertheless killing and maiming people, he would be branded a murderer, maybe also a terrorist or a madman, if indeed there is a difference. His punishment would be every bit as severe as his crimes.
However, what about the other weapons that young men and even children regularly use in public, killing and maiming indiscriminately? What about youths in cars?
In terms of traffic deaths per head of population, the roads in Saudi Arabia are the most dangerous in the world. In large measure this is because too many motorists drive their vehicles dangerously, without any consideration for other road users, not least pedestrians. And the major offenders among this deeply anti-social group of motorists, are young men.
It is considered cool for an adolescent to load a powerful automobile with his friends and then drive flat out through busy urban streets or weave his way through traffic on a multi-lane highway. The adrenalin rush for these kids, because that is what they still are in terms of their behavior and understanding, children; the adrenalin rush for these kids is clear.
But equally clear to everyone, except them, is that there is a severe risk, not only to their own lives, but to the lives of other road users.
What the young idiots have done, in effect, is to turn the automobiles they are driving, with or without a license, into deadly weapons. Their random and dangerous behavior has transformed them into potential murderers. Worse, because of their likely fatal impact on other motorists, they have transformed themselves into terrorists of the highway.
Now let’s return to the idea of a young man in a shopping concourse, firing wildly and killing and injuring innocent people, whose only mistake was to be in his vicinity at the time of his madness. Would this young murderer be overpowered and taken before a judge and fined, banned from owning a weapon and told not to do it again?
Or is it more likely that he would be surrounded by police and armed guards and gunned down himself? And if he survived, is it not likely that a court would sentence him to life imprisonment if not indeed death?
Now what really is the difference between the kid with the gun and the kid with the speeding car? Both kill and injure. Both bring misery and heartbreak to innocent people. Both break the law. Both do not seem to care. Both are a disgrace to the majority of young people. Both bring shame and dishonor on their families. So why are both of these crimes not treated with the same severity?
Perhaps the only way to end this highway terrorism is to treat the deaths it causes as plain murder and to pursue, convict and punish the young criminals accordingly.