More than likely, our nation won't be able to stomach changes on the societal level.
It’s getting to the point – actually, we got to this point a long time ago in the good ole’ US of A – where a news outlet can almost write a sort of mass-shooting template story that includes some vague, broad brushstrokes, but leaves out specifics that can be easily plugged in the next time someone kills a bunch of people with one or more guns.
Did it happen in a school? Elementary, high school or college? Was it a workplace shooting? An office or a factory? Was it at a mall? A movie theater? Or some other public gathering place? Was some kind of high-powered rifle used? Or a handgun? Did the shooter just stroll in and start shooting, seemingly random and on a moment’s notice? Or did he plan for weeks and amass a cache of weapons before donning military-style combat gear and blasting away?
If we long ago got to the point of being able to write a template story for mass shootings, maybe the real signal that this nation, when it comes to guns being used to kill thousands of people each year, is embarking on new territory is that the reactions to such shootings have become so predictable you could churn them out on autopilot while you can still smell the gunpowder in the school hallways.
When yet another shooter kills lots of people, it’s because we don’t allow God in the schools. It’s because not enough kids say a pledge before the flag each morning. It’s because we have too many unnecessarily high-powered guns easily available to too many mentally ill people. But guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This kid in Connecticut, he could have just as easily killed a bunch of people with a Rambo knife, you know. More average citizens need to be permitted to be armed themselves, so that the heroic custodian we heard about at Sandy Hook Elementary, instead of running down the hall yelling out warnings to teachers and students that there was a shooter in their midst, could have simply drawn his own weapon from the pocket of his Dickies coveralls and killed the shooter right then and there, minimizing the loss of innocent lives. Yeah, that’s it. Arm more people with more guns and deaths-by-guns in the United States will decrease.
Are we supposed to buy the argument that this is somehow the price we have to pay from time to time in order to live in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? The Founding Fathers, when they concluded that the citizenry had better be able to legally arm itself in order to fend off an overzealous government, certainly couldn’t foretell the gun culture that would exist more than 200 years in the future.
Other civilized nations on this planet don’t allow as many guns as are allowed in the United States. And gun violence in those nations...well, there really isn’t much to speak of. When a person is killed by a gun in those countries, it’s big news. In the United States, it’s a bottom of page 9 news brief. What would you rather deal with, a mentally-detached young man entering a school with guns blazing, intent on killing as many people as possible, or that same young man with the same intentions armed with a knife? It seems like kind of a silly question to have to ask.
Some are saying that this latest shooting will be the last straw, the tragedy that finally spurs some kind of change in this country. President Obama’s speech hinted at changes to come as well and seems to have gotten some people’s hopes up that we’re going to do something about this.
But what will we change, exactly? What are we willing to change? What do the citizens of this country have the stomach for? More shootings, or changing our culture?
A wise person would avoid betting on the latter.