by Stephen Smith
I remain shocked that the focus by the media and the government on gun violence seems to be on everything but the sub-human that decided to end the life of others. Why is it that in the case of the YouTube shooting, the response by the usual frenzy of protestors and the media was almost non-existent? It seems to be an example of how the lack of politically incorrect targets quickly silenced the usual protesters and editorials. Since she used a handgun and not a hated AR-15, somehow the decision to murder innocents became far less significant, despite handgun deaths accounting for over 7,000 deaths per year vs. about 660 by long guns. Crimes that can be associated with hate are being given a special status and more severe penalties. I question that if you have been murdered or beaten, does anyone think it was an act of love? Are feelings more important than the action? I have heard many ponder that it was a non-story after the event because she was in a protected and oppressed class due to her being a woman, a vegan, was a member of PETA, and did not use the hated AR-15, therefore was somehow immune from outrage or hatred. Of course, we all hate people who hate and we all hate people who disagree, however she could not have been a hater due to her status and therefore … what???
As I am writing this, there is a story on the news that a man intentionally drove a vehicle into a crowd in Munster, Germany, injuring many. When the vehicle came to a rest he committed suicide, as the YouTube shooter did after her shooting spree. My ironical self often ponders, if these evil individuals could be taught to reverse the order and kill themselves prior to their mass murder attempts, wouldn’t it be a blessing for the rest of us?
Here is my politically incorrect statement of the day. Guns and trucks do not murder people, people murder people. The weapons, whether firearms, vehicles, knives or rocks, do not have a will. They may be the means of causing death or killing, but only people can make the decision to murder. The largest acts of mass murder in the United States did not involve the use of firearms. What they had in common was extraordinarily narcissistic people deciding that whatever bothered them was far more important than your God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They have broken our nation’s most basic social and sacred contracts. They have defiled those basic natural law rights which have defined who we are as a people and the very idea of what we are to be as a nation. Their crimes are not just against the victims and their families, but against all of us who are privileged to live in this civil society. If you assign blame to the weapon of choice, I challenge your priorities, values and most basic moral formation. There was murder before firearms and will be if they are eliminated. It was reported this week that murder rates in London, which has had extreme gun restrictions for years, exceeds murder rates in the much larger New York City. Now the mayor of London is calling for the banning of carrying knives.
How can we deal with this distressing problem? We have consistently seen law enforcement be very efficient and brilliant after the shootings, but fail in prevention. Even with all the warning signs in the recent Florida shooter or the brother of the YouTube shooter calling authorities saying his sister was on the way, police failed to act to prevent the tragic actions. It is the nature of the job and our laws which protect individual liberties. We can certainly do a better job in screening and responding to extreme warning signs. Identifying malignant narcissism, cruelty towards animals, social isolation, lack of a stable home life and being abused as a child all are indicators of future problems. People with these types of backgrounds deserve our attention and help.
We must do far better with value and moral formation in our educational system. Just because some of the best examples of how to treat each other and rules on how to live in a civil society exist in biblical teaching does not mean that teaching those values rises to the level of the establishment of a state religion. Marxist leaning judges who removed such documents as the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) from the public square have done our society a tremendous disservice. People do need to be reminded of the basics. Do Not Murder! Do Not Steal! Do Not Give False Testimony! Do Not Covet! Honor Your Father and Mother! Don’t Commit Adultery! Keep a day for reflection and being holy! One of the great things that our First Amendments rights and the Decalogue provide is that they show you a better way to live in a civil society while protecting your rights even if you are an atheist. Truly remarkable.
Finally, we must focus on doing a better job of socialization. Many people live their lives in the cloud and their little tappy thing devices. I just returned from a walk in the mall and nearly four out of five people were walking the aisles while looking at their electronic devices. Direct human interaction, being of service and developing interpersonal relationships are necessary for good mental health and a sense of community. We must learn to focus more on our common humanity and less on that which separates us. We also must reward actual achievement and growth rather than existence. If there is one thing that the shooters have in common is a very unhealthy self-absorption, a lack of concern for the lives of others and a failure of healthy socialization. It is a remarkable thing that these basic self-growth issues are central to the world of 12-step programs. They focus on you becoming a worthwhile and valuable member of society and help you learn how to become a person of high character. Something worth thinking about.