My Evolving Thoughts on School Shootings and Gun Control

As my thoughts on gun control and mass murders continue to evolve, two things have become crystal clear to me.  First, what we are currently doing isn’t working.  And, second, the sound-bite, blame game, quick-fix solutions being proposed won’t do anything to stop the shootings.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The psychiatrists, social workers, politicians, pundits, and law enforcement experts cannot agree on the causes of the current epidemic.  Some blame guns.  Some blame a lack of mental health care.  Some blame the decline of morality.  Some blame violence in movies, music, and video games.  Some blame poor parenting.  Some blame racism.  Some blame bullying.  Some blame the breakdown of the family.  Some blame the NRA.  Some blame economic inequality.  Some blame turning away from God.  Some blame Obama and the Democrats.  And some blame Trump and the Republicans.

The proposed solutions are equally contradictory and muddled.  Ban all guns.  Ban some guns.  Arm teachers and school staff.  Raise the age to buy weapons.  Provide more funding for mental health.  Hire armed veterans to secure schools.  Offer free conceal-carry classes.  This list goes on.

What nobody seems to want to do is to put ideological dogma aside and to sit down to discuss the problem and solutions rationally and pragmatically.  People are more concerned with pushing political ideology than in finding solutions that work.

I don’t have a bunch of letters after my name, and I’m not an expert, but I am a reasonably intelligent, well informed, and thoughtful person.  It seems to me that the causes of mass shootings are extremely complex, and vary considerably from case to case.  It also follows that there are no simple solutions to a problem with such complex and varying causes.

Both the left and the right make valid points.  Easy access to high-powered, multi-round rifles obviously makes it much easier to shoot a lot of people, but so do “gun-free zones” where the assailant knows his victims will be unarmed, easy targets.  And while it’s clear that someone that shoots up a school is mentally unstable, it’s equally clear that the vast majority of people with mental illness are of absolutely no threat to others.  Most gun owners are law-abiding citizens and responsible people, yet many mass shooters use firearms they purchased legally.

How do we solve the problem?  Again, I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but it seems to me the place to start would be for each side to begin listening to what the other side has to say.  Those on the right need to understand why the left is so terrified of unregulated gun availability.  Those on the left need to understand why the right is adamant that gun ownership is just as much an absolute right as free speech or freedom of religion.  We then need to come together to find practical ways to protect people from these attacks, as well as addressing the complex social, religious, political, emotional, and medical reasons why people shoot other people.

It seems common sense to me that if conservatives believe “extreme vetting” is necessary to keep terrorist immigrants from entering the United States, it might also be necessary to keep terrorists and violent people from obtaining certain types of high powered semi-automatic weapons.  It also makes sense to me that mass killers are less likely to target a school where teachers and staff are known to be armed and trained to defend themselves and their students.  Obviously, not all teachers would want to be armed, and nobody should be required to violate their conscience and be forced to carry a weapon.  And many communities would rather risk an armed attack against an unarmed school than to permit loaded weapons in classrooms.  These choices should be made by individual states, communities, schools, and teachers, with significant input from community members, parents and students.

Woman with AR-15

It also seems obvious to me that the causes of the rise in mass-shootings are related to the causes of many of the other societal problems.  We have seen an increase in mass shootings, racial violence, hateful rhetoric, violent bullying, sexual assault, and violent protest.  Behaviors and beliefs that our nation once abhorred are now not only tolerated, but are embraced and celebrated.  We have given up our God-given moral compass, and replaced it with a moral Ouija board.  Conservative Christian leaders who once denounced racism, fornication, and blasphemy now defend a racist, adulterous, blasphemous president.  In the past, our leaders worked to try to unify our nation and work for the common good.  Today, our leaders work to divide our nation to promote partisan ideology.  Technology has isolated us as individuals; parents no longer discipline their children or themselves; schools teach that we are meaningless accidents of evolution; churches teach that we cannot take the Bible seriously; and we blame others rather than taking responsibility for our own actions.

We dehumanize the unborn to justify abortion, and then we wonder why some people dehumanize others to justify mass murder.  We teach that morality is whatever our hearts tell us is right and wrong, and then we are surprised that some people’s hearts tell them mass murder is right.  We teach people to blame others because they are helpless victims, and then wonder why some people think it’s OK to take revenge against those they believe victimized them.  We make mass murderers famous, posting their names and images on the evening news, and then we wonder why the next person tries to kill more than the last.

How do we prevent mass shootings?  We return to the values we once believed.  We teach our children that they are loved by God and that each person has great value and worth.  We become less isolated, and more caring of our neighbors and associates.  We encourage people to arm and defend themselves, while making it harder for deranged people to get access to high-powered, semi-automatic weapons. We stop making mass murderers famous.  We stop glorifying violence.  We do a better job of identifying those with violent tendencies, and get them help.  We start listening to each other and work together, rather than blaming and demonizing each other.  We repent and ask God to forgive us, and sincerely ask for His guidance and wisdom.


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