There is virtually no chance that the US government will enact any regulation that would limit the distribution of assault weapons, so we must take steps to find ways to identify and restrict the freedoms of those who will almost inevitably use them for the slaughter of the innocents. We as a society must take seriously the fact that some people just have no business of freely participating in it.
Anyone in the US who pays attention to the news is aware that there has yet been another school shooting, this time with 17 dead and a number injured. As is often the case, a semi-automatic weapon, legally obtained by a very troubled youth, was used for the mass murders. And as usual, we see this argument against gun control afterward: “You can have all the new laws you want. The criminals already have the guns or can get one if they try hard enough.”
It’s absurdly easy to demolish this response.
Since some people will routinely disobey traffic laws, let us dispense with all such rules and permit the roads to become free-for-alls.
Since banks will routinely try to scam people, we need to get rid of all banking regulations.
Since some pilots turn rogue, let’s stop vetting and training pilots and let anyone fly any plane anywhere they want, including into buildings.
Since some enlisted people in the military will disobey their senior officers, let’s skip basic training and put undisciplined troops out into the field and hope they figure out how to operate as a cohesive team
Since some people have practiced medicine without a license, let’s eliminate all expensive medical education and licensing regulations and permit anyone to hang out a shingle as a trained physician.
Since some women will indeed seek abortions no matter their legality, let’s trash all abortion restrictions.
And since some (?) politicians are corrupt, let’s forego any ethical standards for those in elected office. Politicians should freely strongarm their constituents at will, and, without restraint, stuff their pockets at the public expense.
Oh, and one more: AND since some people will, willy-nilly, commit murder, let’s remove all laws that criminalize that behavior.
In other words, the argument, “Well some people will do it anyway so we should not restrict it” does not hold water. Healthy civilizations simply can’t function that way.
We must acknowledge human realities
But here is our human reality: we live in a world inundated by evil. Most of our politicians are bought and paid for by deep corporate pockets with a substantial stake in keeping the gun market unregulated and vigorous. Those holding elected office have almost no motives to act ethically and ban the sale and private ownership of semi-automatic assault weapons if it means displeasing those who keep them in their lucrative offices.
Also, too many people are broken, isolated, angry and without the kind of moral compass that says, “Slaughter of innocents is wrong.” This brokenness is the human condition. It’s not new. Just read your Bibles. The stories of unjust slaughter permeate those pages.
However, we are not helpless in the face of these horrific actions. Over the centuries, civilizations have indeed advanced, become less lawless, see far fewer murders. Heightened social awareness and sustained effort have brought about greater safety than we’ve experienced before.
Just one example: look at the power of women, especially mothers, to fight against drunk driving. It is no longer acceptable to get behind the wheel with an elevated blood alcohol level. Again, we are not powerless.
Too many lack societal support
But we do need to be more aware of the fact that too many men (note that the perps of mass slaughters are predominately male) have inadequate societal support to give them the tools to deal with the complications of a world that seems to be squeezing them out.
Let us acknowledge that many of our schools are not set up to provide a way of success for those not academically inclined or without the necessary athletic skills to find their social networks there. It is those isolated young men who become easy fodder for various white-supremacist or other groups, like ISIS, that can quickly radicalize them by giving them a place to connect.
Everyone hates being the perpetual outsider or the everlasting misfit. Each of us, deep down inside, wants to know that someone, anyone, knows who we and yet finds us acceptable. If our current societal and religious institutions cannot find a place of belonging for those ever on the outside, we will all pay the price.
Another human reality: some will never fit
Another fundamental truth of the human condition: there will always be those in any society who cannot find a place to fit. Some people will inevitably need to be isolated from more normal functioning society. Some have faced sickening abuse and are permanently damaged; others are born with parts of their brain missing that make compassion and an awareness of other people’s rights and needs impossible.
One apparent commonality among these exiles: a willingness to hurt and torture animals. Perhaps we, as a society, can work more actively to surface those people early and remove them to highly structured, limited freedom, environments.
Many parents whose offspring have acquired multiple addictions or have histories of extensive anti-social behavior often note that they function unusually well in prison: with limited choices and with no access to mind-altering substances, some even thrive. But when released to the more usual freedoms that most of us enjoy . . . well, you probably know the stories.
Another truth: we are not born with equal abilities to deal with the endless pressures of life–and those pressures seem to be growing. A compassionate society is not one that bestows equal freedoms on all, but one that says, “With freedoms come responsibilities.”
The earlier we identify those who either will not or CANNOT live up to those responsibilities and provide decent, non-punitive alternatives for them, the healthier we all will be.
Remember, even early in the unfolding of Israel as a coherent society, they were told to establish “cities of refuge” where those who accidentally committed crimes that made them unacceptable to normal society could flee and rebuild a life.
The alternative is fearful children
The alternative to identifying and removing from normal society those who early show these troubling signs is to turn schools into training camps for survival. Note this piece from a Wall Street Journal editorial titled: “Schools Need Active Shooter Drills” .
It is an unfortunate reality that these horrific acts will continue to produce the same tragic results unless schools take precautions. In the aftermath of each mass shooting, Americans fiercely debate the extent and proper application of our Second Amendment rights. But gun ownership is a complicated and politically fraught issue. While that debate proceeds, we should do everything possible to prepare our children and their teachers to protect themselves. Florida’s shooting underscores the need for immediate action.
In other words, let’s build as fearful an atmosphere as possible for our children while doing nothing to remove from the streets people whom society has already identified as unable to function in a peaceful, law-abiding world. In this particular case, the FBI knew about him. They refused to act. That’s what’s got to stop. What we don’t need is to start treating students like incipient prisoners of war. There is just something scarily upside down here.
In many ways, our society currently operates much like the manufacturers of the deadly rear-engined Ford Pinto. The manufacturers knew it was dangerous and people would inevitably face injury or death from being rear-ended. So, they built into their business model the amount of money they’d need to pay off the families of those who were injured and killed rather than undergo the more expensive process of changing the design.
We as a society must take seriously that some people have no business of freely participating in it. Certainly, some have no business buying assault weapons. At this point, there is no chance of the US government enacting any regulation that would limit the distribution of such weapons. Therefore we must take steps to find ways to identify and restrict the freedoms of those who will almost inevitably use those freedoms to slaughter even more innocents.