Here is a proposal for dealing with the societal infection that occasions school shootings (from mystudentapt.com) - and an hypothesized cause of them.
The listing of what is not working, and will not work according to the author, is painful but true.
"Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them."
If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to insuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s never going to work because no one is going to make the effort to connect with the strange kid sitting by himself at lunch each day. No one is going to reach out to the gawky, awkward guy at work and ask him about his weekend.
You’re probably right and that’s an absolute shame.
Because I can tell you the things that aren’t going to work in this country when it comes to stopping these heinous acts. But they seem to be all anyone says, when inevitably, another person comes forward to inflict their tortured pain on innocent people.
Ban All Guns! – Due to the reading of the 2nd amendment and the precedents established by recent Supreme Court cases, this isn’t going anywhere. You’d need an amendment to the Constitution and there will NEVER be 30+ states willing to overturn it. Never mind the multitude of good reasons for its existence, no amount of outrage will overturn it so let’s just stop.
Ban All Guns! (pt. 2) – Assuming you actually could overturn the 2nd and outlaw every firearm in the country, then you’d have to go out and get them. Famously, there are more guns than people in the U.S. You couldn’t come close to collecting them all. Further, if Prohibition and the War on Drugs have taught us anything it’s that those intent on breaking the law are going to do just that. Laws be damned.
Ban Scary Guns Like the AR-15! – Fully auto weapons are already banned. Most of these shootings occur with a handgun, plain and simple, and these aren’t going anywhere. Murder is illegal, and that doesn’t seem to stop these individuals from performing these atrocious acts. Do you think if there was a ban on shotguns that would stop them?
Keep Them Out of the Hands of Bad People! – Felons are prohibited from owing a firearm already. But let’s not forget, the overwhelming majority of these mass shootings aren’t done by criminals and their guns were obtained legally. How can you know who is going to do something like this? You can’t.
Do Something About Mental Health! – Cool. Yeah. So, like, free psychologists visits for everyone? Even if you could, the people that have done this haven’t been mentally ill, by and large. And, let’s not forget that medical records are private. Would you endorse mandatory psych screening for everyone and those records being sent to the government? Maybe just those who wish to own a gun? Remember, not every person who has engaged in a mass shooting has owned the gun they performed the act with. This is a complete non-starter of an issue with an insane price tag that does nothing to actually keep a person committed to violence from putting their hands on a gun.
Do… SOMETHING! – Gotcha. What do you want to do? "SOMETHING!" Ok, what do you have in mind? "I DON’T KNOW! BUT SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING!" Sure. Agreed. But what? Even Obama has had to say in his latest speech how routine it’s become.
If you can’t tell by this point in the list, there is NOTHING the government or any other organization can do to prevent these events.
You can’t effectively keep drugs out of the hands of those intent on doing drugs. You can’t keep beer out of the hands of high schoolers intent on getting beer. You have a HUGE supply of weapons everywhere and concrete federal law protecting those weapons. You’d have as much luck passing regulation against tornadoes. It would be equally as effective.
So there it is. The god’s honest truth. No entity can do anything meaningful (more than is presently being done) to thwart a disaffected person hell-bent on committing such an act.
But you can.
You can talk to your co-worker for a few minutes. You can talk to the kid in your Physics class that appears to be all alone. You can teach your children to do the same, to make sure no one is left to feel totally isolated. Because that’s the breeding ground. That’s where the seeds are planted.
Is that a workable prescription for curing the horrible disease that infects our society? I do not know.
I do know that we Americans are the only subspecies on this planet that inflicts such damage to itself on such an incredibly large scale. We may or may not be willing to learn from our brethren in other geographic locales about how to cure ourselves (see post below on Leonard Pitts' column). If we do not, or cannot do such learning, perhaps we can learn from the nurturing societies of other animals.