Easy solutions won’t halt violent attacks on the innocent
Tragedies make poor times for decisions and unfortunate ones for politics but that seldom stops either from happening. In situations like last week’s horrific school shooting, the evil that animates such actions is beyond reason or political calculation.
The need to protect ourselves and loved ones from such unfathomable activity compels us all, and since we cannot undo such evil once done, we can only hope to do whatever possible to prevent a recurrence.
The hazard I fear is a flurry of action which will do little to prevent such madness and will likely cause more division and anger.
Since firearms were involved, there are already calls for restrictions and bans. Many making the arguments are grief-stricken, looking to do something to help, or they truly believe that removing some tools from the evil will make them better.
For a few others, it is part of a continuing political campaign. Before the facts were even completely known, the mayor of New York had already taken to the airwaves calling for more gun control.
Billionaire celebrities and politicians surrounded by layers of security and trained guardians often do not see the value of self protection or even the need for it in their world.
Many people angry with their positions forget that gun control advocates often have no idea of the uses, types or need for firearms that are common outside of their experience. They have no frame of reference.
Giving up something one doesn’t have is easy. It is difficult to understand why those who have it feel safer with it, and it leads to unpleasant stereotypes. It is cultural discordance.
Some folks just think a ban on certain firearms will make horrible crimes rare or that unbalanced minds will stop their actions if the weapons are more difficult to obtain.
Those who’ve researched the topic know that the type or availability of a weapon has little to do with the actions of a determined and unbalanced mind. America’s most lethal school attack involved a bomb in 1927 that killed 45. It was set off by a defeated politician and school board member.
The infamous University of Texas shooting occurred in 1966, killing 15 and injuring 32. Much of that carnage was done with a bolt-action hunting rifle.
Attacks in more recent times have a common theme, in that they seem to take place in areas where the killer knows the victims will be helpless to defend themselves.
An armed citizen drew his gun on the recent Oregon mall shooter, and many believe that halted the killer’s rampage.
Proponents of expanding the presence of firearms point to such incidents as examples that armed and presumably trained citizens can deter crime. While experience seems to bear that out, by itself it is not an answer.
Conversely, while there is not a correlation between the number of firearms in society and an increase in their criminal use, there is a relationship between the absence of firearms and certain types of crimes. After a school shooting in Britain in 1997, that nation practically outlawed handguns in the country, along with many other firearms. Thereafter, the rate of home invasion burglaries climbed dramatically and gun-related crimes rose 40 percent within two years of the ban.
What we must not have are easy answers or quick fixes that don’t address society’s portion in all of this. Let’s not deceive ourselves, societies with no moral or ethical guardrails become violent and callous. Tolerance of uncivil and brutish behavior pushes the door open to all manner of dangers.
In too much of popular culture, violent and criminal activities are a form of entrée to legitimacy. Hateful and sometimes anonymous speech is not shunned, but sometimes celebrated. More often, it is just ignored.
Recently, the columnist Michelle Malkin wrote a piece criticizing an entertainer for his album cover art. In response, she received threats of death.
This week, a political operative in Houston tweeted his hope that it was now open season on NRA members.
We need to have a very serious and honest exchange of ideas about all of these topics, including how to identify and humanely treat the gravely mentally ill. We owe it to these victims and our future.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.