People Killing People

Analysis: Negotiating a minefield of bad news

In a background of tragedy, this news piece is refreshing. It is so rare in the media today to separate the means (weapons, guns) from the underlying behavior (someone using them to vent anger), and even go a little deeper and begin to assign the root cause as a social problem.

What is even more surprising to me, however, is the classic dogma of the two-dimensional political spectrum.

The liberals decry the tragedy, then go immediately to blaming accessibility to weapons as the cause. They totally miss a perfect opportunity to advance their social agendas. If, they could argue, there were only a deeper safety net under society, then the vast majority of these shootings would never occur. The people committing them were victims of society, you see, and were confronted with an uncaring, unresponsive system that left them with no feeling of a future.

But, ironically, instead they seem perfectly willing to leave these people in place as long as they (and everyone else) is disarmed.

On the other end, we have the conservatives. They decry the tragedy, then go totally into their individual responsibility mantras. They point out that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This is, of course, totally true. “The gun just went off” never happens. Somebody is handling it, and somebody commits an intentional act of pointing it at someone else (or themselves, I guess) and an additional intentional act of pulling the trigger. The consequences of these two actions are entirely predictable, there are very, very few true accidents.

So, in the conservative logic, it would follow that people who are likely to kill should be controlled by society in some way. Not sure exactly how they intend to do that, especially in ways that are consistent with conservatives other principles.

Conservatives (correctly) point out that more laws regulating gun ownership only effect law-abiding citizens. “Gun free zones” ensure that only people with criminal intent are armed in those areas. But then they pass “tough on crime” laws, push the death penalty, extend prison terms citing that these things deter crime.

Both of these groups are trying to have it both ways.

So a news piece like this one is refreshing in that it actually tries to address the problem… not guns, not deterence, but people who would otherwise be ordinary, on the fringes of our society, feeling victimized, with no place to turn and finally venting their anger on the rest of us. It isn’t pretty, there is no easy solution, but the first step is to strip idealogy out of the problem statement.

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