This past weekend caused us all to recoil in horror from the events in Newtown, Connecticut. And it didn’t take long after the mass shooting was over and the death toll was tallied that the various political commentators began to attempt to justify their vision for America (or Canada, or wherever they live).
First, others have effectively pointed out that all of the mass killings that have occurred over the last fifteen years or so have occurred in places with moderate to strict gun control laws, and sites that are specifically declared to be “gun-free zones”, like schools, military bases, camps or hospitals. Many, on the left have argued that more gun control would reduce these events, but it seems odd that it hasn’t worked to date. Madmen will find away.
Others, have raised the idea that the increase in violence on television and in video games is driving the increase in mass killings. However, there has been no causative link between such activities. Just as there is no causative evidence that those who actually experience violence in war become mass killers once they are back in civil society.
There has been some, mostly from the right, discussion of mental illness as a cause, and in my mind it clearly is a key to this problem. Many of the mass killers (who did not have other motives, such as the Fort Hood gunman) show a tendency to be bipolar, depressed, or suffering from some other mental illness. All exhibit the behaviours of a sociopath or psychopath, notably the lack of empathy with others.
Now let us look at the history. Many western nations, including Canada and the United States, “closed the asylums” in the 1970s. Many have claimed this was done as a cost-cutting measure – but that doesn’t hold water. The 1970s was not a time when governments in western nations were trying to cut costs – they were just beginning to borrow like madmen themselves. The decision to close the asylums was very much a sociopolitical move.
In the post-war socialism that permeated civilization, moral relativism was ascendant and individualism was frowned upon. We were told not to apply our own “moral views” on others, not to judge the capabilities of others and to be more accepting. When I was in primary school, the children with developmental disabilities, chromosomal anomolies and those that we now all autistic were still segregated from the general school population. But as I grew up, I saw the impact of the “reintegration” of such individuals. Some worked out well – many with Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) were able to integrate in, and we learned they had something to offer society. However, some others did not integrate as well.
Worse, as we “trained” society to be more accepting, people became less willing to call out those who don’t fit in. If you had a child who exhibited antisocial behaviours, lack of empathy (beyond that of a normal adolescent…), or you came to know someone like that you were expected to “accept” their differences. The rejection of individualism that went along with the moral relativism built on this view that we are all “equal” and that these differences can only benefit society. If we are unwilling to identify differences and made judgements then we are less aware of the risks these people can pose. How does someone who is recognized (by someone) as having a mental illness get a permit for a firearm? Because no one is willing to single them out.
Should we reopen the asylums and lock up anyone who suffers from a mental illness? No. But we should reopen them with a focus on those who are truly disturbed, are dangers to society at large.
And on the topic of gun laws – has anyone noticed that in places where guns are commonly carried by some of the population that such violence doesn’t occur? Perhaps we should train educators and give them access to the firepower necessary to halt a madmen and reduce the damage they can do?
I don’t have the answer. But I don’t trust government not to try to control us further without any recognition that their good intentions often don’t lead to the outcomes they are dreaming about.
- Mental Illness and Murder… and stuff (thesynergisticpen.com)
- Recent History Of Escalating Mass Shootings In The US (zerohedge.com)
- CNN Anchor: It Doesn’t Matter That Gun Violence is Down – Katie Pavlich (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Newtown United: Gun Control, Mental Health; ‘Let’s Get It Right Once And For All’ (guardianlv.com)
- “We can’t accept events like this as routine…” (msdrocks.wordpress.com)