What can we do about heart-breaking, gut-wrenching shootings?
I have spent a lifetime of loving children. I raised a number of them – some biological and others brought into the family at different times. I love being a father – and had my last biological child after the age of 50. I enjoy the sounds of the neighborhood kids playing outside the house.
I also know the pain of losing a grandchild to violence. In his case, the war in Afghanization. But even that experience makes it impossible for me to fully comprehend the agony of losing an innocent school child so brutally murdered as he and she huddle against a deranged, merciless and evil killer.
It is impossible to write about it without unsuccessfully fighting against tears. Tragically, this moment for me – or you — is not unique. We have seen this horror far too often – most recently less than two weeks ago in a grocery store in Buffalo.
But unfortunately, my heartbreak and frustration often turn to an anger when I see those on the left seize on this tragedy to advance their narrow political agenda.
Every time there is a horrific mass shooting, the boilerplate responses are like the script of a bad movie that we have seen too many times.
It is the same old expressions of shock. The same old calls for prayer – and for ill-defined and improbable offers of support. It is the same old political pandering. The same old calls for action. The same old accusations against guns and gun owners – or those who defend the Second Amendment. The same old attacks on Republicans – more intense because this is an election year.
And all of that will have the same old results. America will go back to dealing with all those other issues until the next inexplicable mass shooting takes place. And while these shootings understandably grab the headlines for a couple weeks, we will also continue to ignore the thousands of people murdered each year – mostly in our segregated major cities. Those hardly get more than a passing mention in the liberal news.
Perhaps the most perplexing and disturbing aspect of the mass killings is the fact that the United States is virtually unique in the world in having these horrific events occurring on such a frequent basis. It is undeniable that it is something in our culture that breeds these men to take out their anger, hatred and derangement on groups of innocent people in the most benign settings.
Never to let a crisis go to waste, those on the left see the gun as the primary cause – or at least the best spin to serve their partisan political strategy. A gun is NEVER the motivation — or the reason — even if it is the weapons of choice. The real issue is what motivates these mostly men to undertake such heinous actions?
In the greater picture, what motivates the violence and criminality that is on the rise across the country. Mass shooting, serial killings and general violence is so prevalent today that it is undeniable that the reason is embedded in the culture.
The first thing we need to examine are the deepest motivations – something the myopic anti-gun lobby puts on the back burner. The specific motivations are varied. We have Islamic terrorists who have committed mass murder with guns, bombs, and vehicles. We have racists, like the young man in Buffalo, New York. These are two types who have been radicalized into killing monsters by a sick devotion to a malignant evil cause.
We have workplace shooters who were fired or disciplined. We have angry spouses. And we have some who we can only describe as mentally ill. Often young men with low self-esteem or suicidal impulses – a need to gain attention on the way out. There are copycats.
But even understanding the various “types” will not get to the fundamental factor. What is it in the nature of these shooters that they are willing to capriciously kill a bunch of innocent people? What is different about them is that they do something that most people in their same situations do not do – do not even consider. The superficial motivation – if one can be ascertained – is just an excuse. The common trait is a psychological desire or willingness to kill. Maybe it is the same human defect that makes guys like Putin commit mass murder on an even grander scale. Is it a sense of power over life? Or a misguided attempt to prove their worth – to get noticed?
We are already hearing calls for action tied to political accusations. But what actions. The actions we have taken are not working. Passing laws against guns is good politics for some, but meaningless in terms of changing the future. We know that from the past.
We have been passing “red flag” laws to identify potential killers from their social platform posts and comments to family and friends. The mantra is “see something, say something.” But there seems to be too little implementation. Several shooters had been on the radar before they acted. People saw something and said something about the Parkland shooter, but the FBI, the school board, and the school staff ignored the calls.
And what about the parents. It seems inconceivable that those closest to the shooters did not see something – and maybe they saw a lot. Can we discern telltale sighs from the family situation? Are parents aware – or are they complicit?
What is really counterproductive is what I saw on MSNBC. Even before the body count was complete, they were bringing on one commentator after another to accuse the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party, Texas Governor Abbott, and former President Trump of culpability. They openly admitted their reasons for taking that approach. They said that gun violence should be the number one issue in the November election – and that voters should throw Republicans out of office. It was a shameful exhibition of crass political partisanship – and another example of just how politically biased and corrupt certain elements of the so-called news industry have become.
I am not a gun owner. I am not a member of the National Rifle Association. As a matter of fact, I have been a critic of the NRA. I fully support reasonable gun restrictions that can be EFFECTIVE in reducing crime. I have no problem with closing any loopholes in background checks. I have no problem with banning gun ownership from felons and those with records of significant mental issues. I have supported a ban on bump-stocks that turn a legal semi-automatic rifle into an illegal automatic rifle.
None of that, however, will change anything. There is no silver bullet solution (no pun intended) – and tweaking gun laws is counterproductive because it gives the public a false sense of accomplishment. All the tweaking that has been done in the past – and there has been a lot of it – does not appear to have had any demonstrable positive impact on the problem. Places with the most restrictive gun laws are often the places with the most gun violence – and deaths. Think Chicago.
We have to understand that as we examine each incident, we need to find the mental commonality between the young man who gunned down 10 shoppers in Buffalo and the young man who killed those innocent children in Uvalde. The man who attacked the Synagogue in New York and the guy who killed kids at Sandy Hook. What triggers this empowerment to kill?
Even if we further tweak gun laws, as Democrats would have us, you can rest assured that we will see more horrific mass shootings in the future. Those on the left are offering a largely symbolic political response that will change nothing. They are looking for solutions in the wrong place. Making political opponents the cause is cheap and dishonest. But that is the role they insist on playing in this bad movie with too many sequels.
We need to examine the larger cultural influences … the collapse of the nuclear family … the loss of religious devotion … the general discard for life … the influence of advertising … the breakdown of moral-based education … the ability of social media to narrow-cast and feed paranoia, schizophrenia … and the role of the news media in popularizing the shooters.
I fear that America will continue to be characterized by these now iconic events until we start diving deeper into motivations and mental profiles of the perpetrators. But that is much more complicated and time-consuming – and does not fit the simplistic political narrative of those on the left. Making the gun the issue is a political response but does not even consider the all-important underlying issues. As long as we just point to the gun – and only pay lip service to the cultural and mental health issues – we will be watching this movie again.
If we are ever going to start down the path toward resolution, we need to keep one thing in mind. It is the culture, stupid.
So, there ‘tis.