Another mass shooting. Another day of sorrow and loss for many families and friends. Another hue and cry to deny people 2nd Amendment rights as a solution. Before a solution can be presented, the cause must be identified. Otherwise, we’re chasing smoke. And I will never surrender my rights in such a pointless endeavor.
So, let’s try to find the common attributes of those who have committed these kinds of crimes.
Such actions rarely happen suddenly, without any kind of changes in the person’s attitude or personality, and those changes are noticeable to people who are paying attention to them. How many of the perpetrators, young or old, of these shootings have come from homes where the parents were really involved and noticed the aberrant behavior and personality changes taking place in them as they grew up? How many of them had parents who got them the help they needed? How many of them came from homes where the parents were constantly busy making money to buy more stuff? Do kids really need to have computer games? Does each kid really need his/her own laptop? Can’t such things be shared, thereby decreasing the amount of money needed to run the household? Does everyone really need a cell phone? And if a cell phone is available, does it really need to have umpteen thousand gigabytes of data (which costs a fortune in addition to the regular monthly cost) in order to play games and indulge in social media around the clock? Could the family cut many costs down so that all the parents’ time and effort isn’t spent working to earn more money? Wouldn’t that allow more time for actually talking to and paying attention to the kids? Parents would be much more likely to notice changes in their kids’ attitudes and personalities and be better able to address the issues. I mean, you aren’t going to notice such things if you’re living in a house that is run like a rooming house rather than a family home.
How about emotional dysfunction? How many of these people were shown real affection and made to feel like they truly had a safe haven at home? How many of them were pretty much left to come home from school and either spend their time in their room, alone, or run the neighborhood with their friends and no one at home knowing or even caring where they were or who they were with? And knowing that most kids tell you what you want to hear so they can get you to say, “Yes”, did the parents take the time to verify what the kids told them? How many of these people had parents who knew their friends and their friends’ parents? How many of these people had a home life where they were encouraged to participate in music, school clubs, school sports, etc.? How many of them were offered rides by their parents to such activities so that they could participate? How many of them had parents who were proactive in their academic achievements and went to the school to meet and talk with their teachers?
How about morals and standards? How many of these people came from homes where both parents were in the home? How many of them had parents who showed each other respect and affection? How many of them had homes where the family attended some sort of church every week and saw the things taught at church being practiced daily at home? How many of them were expected to maintain a certain level of standards in their manner of speaking and in the way they treated others?
What about discipline if standards weren’t met? Were they beaten? Were they scolded? Was there any consequence for bad behavior at all? Were they taught how to cope with disappointment? Were they treated with respect, but firmness when needed? Were they taught values such as earning what you get, paying for what you damage, returning borrowed items in good repair and in a timely manner, taking care of their possessions, assisting others because it is the right thing to do, not because you might get something in return?
I haven’t done the research into these questions myself, but I would be willing to place a hefty wager on most of those things being negative in the lives of people who commit mass shootings.
Then we have to look at society and culture. Not everything is learned at home. Has society been devolving along moral lines? Media, and now social media, have a huge impact on young minds. Before we saw mass shootings, movies and TV didn’t portray bad behavior, sexual promiscuity, and aberrant sexual behavior as something to be admired and emulated. In fact, movie and TV production was careful to show disdain and consequences for such things. Since that has changed, we have seen a lot of really bad, and too frequently heinous, behavior in our society. There have always been people who have no conscience and do horrible things, but the severity and frequency of such activities has a direct correlation to the changes in media portrayal and praise of this kind of behavior, as well as the lack of family involvement, and the lack of severe consequences for all of it.
So now that we’ve identified many of the commonalities of these criminals, how do we propose to resolve the issue? Well, many people think no one should be allowed to possess firearms. Some just think no one should be allowed to possess certain kinds of firearms. Some think no one should be allowed to possess more than a certain amount of ammunition. Somehow that is supposed to stop these events from happening. Okay, let’s look at that.
People have been inventing ways of killing each other since the dawn of time. As time goes by, old methods of killing are replaced by newer, more efficient methods. No one needed to pass a law prohibiting the possession of spears dipped in curare or sabers. They simply faded into history when “better” weapons were devised. But, to be honest, a rock will do, if one is so inclined to kill. Today we have guns. Most people are sane and able to maintain minimum standards of respect for one another and the law. But how is preventing the people from enjoying their right to keep and bear arms going to stop mass shootings? The only people who could be expected to abide by such a law are the people who already self-govern themselves and don’t do such things. Those who are inclined to commit murder, mass or otherwise, would still find a way to do it. In the meantime, those who would need to defend themselves against those people would be left defenseless. Their rights would be denied them and the killers would still find guns and still kill using guns. I don’t see how that is a reasonable proposal. Would you prefer that such insane people use homemade bombs to accomplish the same thing? You will never stop this kind of heinous action no matter what restrictions you place on society.
Until parents go back to parenting and being involved in their children’s daily lives, until parents stop putting all their efforts into keeping up with the Joneses and instead sacrifice their free time to pay attention to their kids, until parents put out the effort to discipline and do what’s necessary to guide their kids and get them proper treatment when they display dysfunctional behavior, this will not stop, even if all the guns in the world were to disappear tomorrow. When families stop going into separate rooms to watch TV shows rather than watching something all can enjoy, or listening to music alone in their room or on headphones rather than sharing the experience as a family, when families begin attending church every week as a family, when families eat dinner together every night once again (not in front of the TV but seated around a table), when real concern and affection is shown for each family member every day, when society stops funding lecherous and titillating entertainment that edifies disrespect and moral decay, when serious consequences are consistently paid by those who break the rules, then we may see a big drop in this kind of mayhem and the deep hurt it causes. But restricting the freedoms of law abiding citizens in an attempt to curtail the hateful, selfish, and insane actions of a few is not the answer. It won’t even slow it down.