Monday, December 17, 2012

The Most Important Question

Following the Newton school shooting, people are asking all kinds of questions, and they are important. What can we do to prevent these shootings? How did this man's family and friends not see this coming? How can we prepare our kids in case this happens in their schools? Should gun laws be changed?

The hardest question is also the most important one: What is wrong with us that we're creating these people?

Even though some gun laws have been relaxed over the last decade, guns are still much harder to get than they were 40 years ago. But this kind of thing didn't happen then. Certainly not in the numbers that it is happening now.

So what has changed in our society that we are producing these monsters? 

That's the question we've got to answer. The guy with the knife in China, the guys with the box cutters on September 11, and Timothy McVeigh didn't need guns to kill lots of people. Evil will find a way. We have to find a way to stop the evil.

What are we doing wrong? That's the question that has to be answered.


Salim said...

First of all, your claim that mass-shootings did not occur more than 40 years ago appears to be plain wrong:

You asked what's changed in our (American) society?

Could it be the lack of funding of mental health programmes since the Reagan administration? Very troubled people are given little or no support and are driven to suicidal violence?

Could it be the relatively easy availability of firearms - meaning that irrational people who are suicidal or angry with society can easily obtain weapons with which to enact their fantasies?

Could it be that we are in an era of economic stress that generally puts all of society on a downer, particularly affecting the certain individuals who are already on the edge?

I think the difference between McVeigh's terrorism, the Chinese knife-attack and the current wave of gun-crime is that to pull off a stunt like McVeigh's requires a great deal of planning and logistics. To stab lots of people takes energy and misguided enthusiasm.

Guns, particularly automatic weapons with large magazines make mass-murder very easy. Even lazy murderers can make the front page of the tabloids.

We should want to control assault weapons precisely because in the wrong hands they can spill so much blood. Without easy access to these weapons - deranged people will have to work much harder to commit mass-murder and many simply will not bother.

PS, I am not American.

Zachary Rivenbark said...

America has spent the last 40 years cutting the state budgets for mental health. We now have a huge portion of our population that should be seeing psychiatrists, but are not.

There is your problem. Get people the mental health they need before they explode.

heikki said...

The gun crime in US has been in decline at least since 2005 (, so in that regards keep doing what you are doing.
The isolated school shooting incidences seem to me like a mental health and socioeconomic class issue... so more metal health and education to the masses?

PS. and do start teaching psychology in secondary schools pls?

ChrisB said...

Sorry to take so long to reply. Holiday stuff ...

I know there were killings before the 80s, but those were more deserving of being called isolated incidents. There were 18 random mass shootings in the 1980s, 54 in the 1990s, and 87 in the 2000s. This in a period when guns were harder to get. Something else is going on.

I think you're right to point at the psychological aspect. Both political parties are to blame. The left decided it was cruel to institutionalize the mentally ill, and the right went along with it (because of cost, federalism, and a general distrust of government programs). There are a great many people running loose in our society who wouldn't have been free 40 years ago.

My biggest concern is that we'll be satisfied with gun control, which will do very little in the near term, and do nothing about anything else until this happens again -- probably in the next year or two.

Anonymous said...

If one child can be saved because of removing assault style weapons & clips from society then we should do it. These are basically WMD's that ordinary citizens do not need. The 2nd amendment will not be harmed by removal of WMD's. The ultimate answer to evil in our society is a persons relationship with Jesus Christ. Evil will always be with us till Jesus returns. Till that happens we need to do something rather than nothing. Removing WMD's is a first start.

ChrisB said...

Jim, I really don't want to get into the 2nd amendment here -- I really wanted to focus on the question of why this is happening now, what has changed in our society that these acts have gotten more common even as weapons have gotten harder to come by.

But if it's about saving just one life, when are we going to outlaw cars? They kill far more children every year than guns do.

dobson said...

Most governments regulate the use of cars: You need to be over a certain age, have good eye-sight and that sort of thing.

We recognize that cars can be abused - that's why they have to be registered and we have special branches of the police force who ensure that cars used on public highways are used safely and responsibly.

In most countries there's a small amount of paperwork and tax that must be paid for every car. That creates an incentive not to keep unused cars lying around.

Perhaps if the government regulated guns like cars we'd be a lot better off! The government's no more likely to take away our guns than our cars - I just think we need to encourage the same kind of responsible attitude to both.

I think it's time for NRA / Conservatives to seriously consider the role of government in keeping the public safe from irresponsible firearm owners.

ChrisB said...

The US government does not regulate the ownership of cars. You can keep as many in your house as you want. You can keep any kind in your house you want. The states have rules for taking them onto public streets. That's a very different thing.