This latest time, it was a community college in Oregon, but as we’ve seen so many times already, it could have been anywhere. These mass murders have become so frequent, and even regular, that not only do I have no answers, I don’t have any more questions.
I don’t care who the shooter was, why he felt disaffected or disrespected, whether or not he was a quiet and creepy loaner who lived with his mother, whether or not he was bitter about women for not being able to get laid, if he hated African Americans, Jews or Christians. I don’t even care whether there were missed warning signs, because there are always warning signs – the same ones that present with guys like this who don’t resort to mass murder. I don’t care that he had “issues.”
All I care about is that he was easily able to obtain one or more firearms and plenty of ammunition.
And spare me the breast-beating about lack of adequate mental health facilities. No amount of mental health screening is going to prevent this. With the two other product-related mortality blights – automobiles and smoking – the government and/or the industry is trying to impact the problem; all the way up through smoke-free buildings and research into driverless cars. And then there is the issue of testing and licensing people before we allow them to drive. With the firearms industry, just the opposite is true: They continually challenge every legislative and technological step to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
I know: the Constitution doesn’t guarantee us the right to cars and cigarettes the way it does guns. I’ve heard that one a thousands times, generally without a discussion of that pesky opening clause about a well-regulated militia.
As I say, I don’t know what the answer is. Marginal actions are unlikely to erase the problem and a ban on guns will never pass Constitutional scrutiny. And no armed civilian has ever prevented or curtailed a mass shooting. In the chaos of the moment, anyone drawing a weapon in such a situation risks being shot by official first responders.
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Yes, but people with guns kill many more people than people without guns. Few of these mass killers would be able to cause such havoc with a knife, a baseball bat, or fists.
What else do we just let happen and not try to prevent?
I don’t know what the answer is. I know that NRA members are not the people committing gun crimes. But NRA policies and lobbying certainly don’t help.
All I know is that if you compare the murder rates of the United States and every other First World nation, no one else is even remotely close. Is that just the way we are? Is it part of our original sin, like slavery, that we will never get over? After all, Japan has an extremely low rate of gun ownership and almost no homicide. On the other hand, Switzerland has an extremely high rate of gun ownership and almost no homicide.
I guess gun violence is like hurricane season: It’s just going to happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. The only difference is that gun violence knows no season.
If anyone has any more ideas than I do, I welcome them. I think we all do.