As always, the immediate rush is to ban guns as an emotional response. To blame something, anything for the heart breaking chaos.
This is the wrong approach; spoons don’t make people fat, cars don’t make people drive drunk and guns don’t kill people.
Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted in the immediate aftermath: “In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings. On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose… 500 to Medical errors 300 to the Flu 250 to Suicide 200 to Car Accidents 40 to Homicide via Handgun Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.” He is right.
In the same weekend, 59 people, alone, were shot in gun restricted Chicago with virtually no media attention.The notion that, “If we make it harder to obtain/own guns, we will all be safer” sounds appealing in the emotional roller-coaster aftermath of any tragedy. However, the more accurate response is; “Tragedy is sometimes the price of liberty, but to remove all liberty will not remove all tragedy”. If heavily gun-controlled Baltimore was a country, it would be the world’s third deadliest; just behind socialist, gun-controlled Honduras.
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We’ve been down this restriction-ist path with drugs already. Heroin and meth are illegal, yet are producing a new pandemic in our country. In contrast, 100 years ago, kids brought guns to school. 75 years ago gun safety and even marksmanship were taught in many schools amounting to ZERO mass school shootings. In fact, the first mass school shooting didn’t happen until 1966, a copycat of two other psychopaths from the same year.
Clearly there has been an escalation in the frequency of these horrifying incidents. However, guns are not the problem. This is a culture problem where, increasingly, certain people don’t value human life. The more pressing and relevant issue is to try understand why that is.
No doubt these two events were horrific and everyone is correct to be outraged and even scared. However, assigning blame to an inanimate object will not help. The increasing epidemic of gun violence is less about access to weapons but about society’s perpencity to just violence. The number of guns per person has not dramatically changed in the last 20 years but the number of shootings has.
So much is due to the breakdown of the social community construct, loneliness and the emotional hollowness of the internet age. It took us decades to get here and may take decades to get out. No law can instill the values of a good community, positive childhood, supportive friends or a two parent home. You can’t legislate morality, and to try would undermine the very fabric of our civil liberties.
Here is a solution (and people on the right and left might not want to hear this), but it starts with accountability. Instill federal background checks and national permitting together, now, as a single-issue bill. Simultaneously, shore up social accountability; threatening someone with violence has zero tolerance. Any provable threats of violence on-line, or in real life, will result in arrest and bars you from access to firearms (for at least some period of time). The accountability to report and monitor this falls on society too, not solely government. Many of these shooters have a publicly available history of threats and violence.
As a society we have a responsibility to look out in our community for people who are clearly troubled. However, both perpetrators of the Dayton and El Paso atrocities had many red flags that were reported to various authorities. We as a country, have a severe lack of policy or framework in terms of how law enforcement follows up on these warnings. We need to fix this.
Collectively, as a society, we seem to have lost the plot on raising our kids. We see this reflected in mental health data, in suicide rates, in polling about the loneliness of America’s youth…particularly young men. I would not argue this is something we’ve done consciously, but parents; we need to raise our kids to be people that are proud to look in the mirror. As a parent myself, easier said than done of course, but most of these shooters come from single parent homes.
Raising a child should be all of our FIRST priorities. I don’t care if you hate the person you had that child with…you have to be there to help. It may not be under the same roof (as is my case with my first child) but you better be there as a role model for them. And we need to look out for each other.
If you see a friend/neighbor/coworker struggling … help them! This is the community spirt that America survived on for over 200 years and it worked.
As a last note, what is seldom discussed, or studied (but should be), is that gun use is also defensive. This debate is not just about stopping atrocities, but also about preserving our right and ability to defend ourselves and our families.
There is a shocking lack of data on this topic, however you can find some academic studies that have been conducted (including from the CDC…conveniently unpublicized since I don’t think they like the results).
These have been well summarized in Paul Hsieh’s article in Forbes on the matter from 2018. the bottom line is that defensive gun use by victims is significantly more common as use by criminals. Meaning that that we should not lose sight of the fact that many more lives are saved with the second amendment than harmed.
In tragedy, we look to anything that we can to fill the void of pain and suffering. But more government regulation is NOT the solution. There is no law that can regulate the value of life. It is a long road ahead. It will require a cultural shift that will not have an immediate impact for decades.
We have grown increasingly dependent on the Government to solve our problems. In reality there is very little they can do to solve this and even less that they will do. We have to look at ourselves for this one America.