Remember the last mass shooting? It’s been a whole 10 days, which is seeming like a long time between such tragedies. (In fact, FBI stats put the average length between mass shootings, defined as resulting in four or more deaths, at two weeks.)
After each one, this Onion headline always springs to mind: No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.
It does seem insane that we seem unable to change anything as these incidents pile up. I don’t have a lot original to say except that I support more public safety measures such as background checks for every fire arm sale, every where. I can’t promise it’ll stop things, but I believe it would help cut the number. And it would be worth trying, and worth the minor inconvenience.
But I also don’t think it’s just about guns. Even Michael Moore, who strongly supports stricter gun laws, acknowledged this in Bowling for Columbine. Canadians, as that film points out, love their guns, and they have a lot of them. But we don’t see the craziness from the Canucks. Clearly, there’s something different about the United States, and it isn’t a good different.
I read two or three things this past week that I found constructive and that connect our societal failures—and individual failures—to these horrible events.
One of them is by a blogger named Mark Manson. I can’t vouch for him overall, don’t know much about him, but I thought his thoughts here are worth everyone taking to heart. He suggests that in the predictable aftermath of each incident, we miss something: An excerpt:
And while we’re all fighting over whose pet cause is more right and more true and more noble, there’s likely another young man out there, maybe suicidally depressed, maybe paranoid and delusional, maybe a psychopath, and he’s researching guns and bombs and mapping out schools and recording videos and thinking every day about the anger and hate he feels for this world.
And no one is paying attention to him.
He notes that these onerous school slaughters—Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and on and on…they’re not impulsive outbursts. They’re well planned, often for months or more. The killers are methodical in their preparation. They’re alienated and very unhappy. They want to make a very big splash on their way out. And the killers almost always give off plenty of red flags well in advance.
That’s the Cliff’s Notes—the full piece is worth the read.
The other thing I read comes also from someone I know almost nothing about—a musician named Jonathan Byrd. He grew up using guns, travels a lot in other countries and has some pretty keen observations about what’s different between them and us. A snippet:
More interesting to this essay are other countries I’ve been to regularly: The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. Canada is notably similar in that there are a lot of guns, but not much gun violence compared to the U.S. Almost every grown man in Switzerland has an assault rifle issued by the military. They have gun festivals with shooting competitions for the kids.
All these countries also take care of their citizens.
The pieces differ substantially in their approach, but there is an intersection: How we treat one another here in the United States (pretty poorly) is at least a part of the problem. The Byrd piece happened to be a Facebook post that someone shared—about the most thoughtful thing I’ve ever seen on Facebook.
Anyway, you can read it here—and I hope you will.
Four more days and we’ll hit that two week mark.