Citizens must work together to stop mass shootings

Comment:

We can reduce mass shootings – if we all stick our heads out of our ideological behinds.

Listen, left: yes, it is important to increase mental health services, especially in schools. Almost all of the mass shootings are suicides of troubled people whose self-hatred turns to whatever group (immigrants, blacks, women, gays, rejecting classmates or co-workers) might be responsible for their misery. (“I’ll take some of those XY-Zs with me!”)

Listen, right: Of course, the easy availability of weapons of war is a factor, and taking steps to prevent the easy circulation of these weapons, though imperfect, will help.

Lefty: (1) you don’t get rid of guns (there are way too many, they have their uses, and bothn/aThe amendment will not disappear ); and (2) racism is not the primary focus. Some shooters make vile racist claims, but their trauma and self-loathing runs deeper than their racism. Many racist assholes live between 60 and 80 years without shooting anyone.

Righty: (1) most of us don’t want to take your guns, and we couldn’t anyway, so drop that NRA fable; and (2) to call these children terrorists or “PUREEVIL” is to evade the truth. These are young people in difficulty who have suffered early violence, sexual abuse or other trauma. This does not excuse their conduct. But calling them evil blinds us to the identifiable causes of their actions.

The day before, a kid was pure evil, it was another kid in the class, maybe confused, but a kid you were talking to. Identifying those seething with self-loathing and anger could help reduce these tragedies. (I’m mostly mentioning young mass murderers here, but the same pattern marks almost all shooters.)

We need to make serious therapy easily accessible to children in schools. Identify some potential shooters early and help them find an alternate course. Yeah, it will cost money, in difficult times; but it is important.

The right is right that mental health is essential, but that’s no excuse for ignoring other critical issues.

Social issues are complex. “Cars don’t kill people, people do!” seems absurd. We recognize that it is important to prevent drunks or people with Alzheimer’s disease from driving, that laws and insurance help reduce the number of deaths on the roads and that we must continue to return cars safer.

A popular meme points out that after Jayne Mansfield died while driving under a tractor-trailer, laws required those vehicles to have DOT bars to prevent this; that seven deaths from doctored Tylenol gave us caps, you need a Ph.D. open; and that a clown’s failed shoe bomb attempt has everyone taking their shoes off at airports.

Guns kill 168 people every two days. (Cars kill about 250.) Our thoughts and prayers accomplish little.

The right is wrong to fight against all security measures, including: extensive background checks; mandatory waiting times; banning certain firearms and features of firearms that allow anyone to kill scores of people with absurd ease; raise the age of purchase of certain weapons to 21; red flag laws; and compulsory insurance. The facts are clear that (as logic suggests) states with the weakest gun laws have the most gun deaths per capita.

If we focused on this issue to escape the depression or build the atomic bomb, we would be licking that too, saving lives but respecting the rights and needs of law-abiding gun owners. What if all citizens worked together?

It will not arrive. Most people on both sides are reasonably sincere; but a profit-hungry gun industry (and a cynical NRA) scares gun owners and buys off politicians.

Maria D. Ervin