The big news of the past few days while I’ve been on the road is the mass murderer in Aurora Colorado who shot up a Batman screening, killing something like 12 and injuring something like 50. I’ve only paid general attention to the details.
One place I heard some discussion was the beginning segment of the Dave Ramsey Show. His main thrust was that it wasn’t “society’s” fault and he didn’t know and wasn’t terribly interested in whether it was the parent’s fault. Crazy has always been crazy, things aren’t worse now than they were in the past, and the only thing that has changed is the intensity of media coverage.
I tend to agree with that, but I also think he was being conspicuously silent about an important variable. Crazy may have always been crazy, but crazy didn’t always have access to assault rifles. The capacity for violence has increased.
One argument I’ve heard, which I think is inane, is to the effect that more armed people in the theater would have made things safer. Cross fire in a smoky, confused theater where it’s difficult or impossible to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys would have done nothing to make things safer. Probably just would’ve gotten more people killed.
The other argument I think is suspect is that gun laws wouldn’t do a thing to make us safer. I disagree. I don’t think it’s coincidence that, compared to other countries, the U.S. has some of the laxest gun laws and some of the biggest problems with gun violence. Would passing gun laws help? Now, there I share the suspicion of the gun enthusiasts — it may well be that the genie is already out of the bottle; that guns are so pervasive culturally and physically that laws might not be of a lot of practical use. I don’t know that, but I at least appreciate skepticism on that score.
And, perhaps more importantly, whatever the most effective policy choices might be, I also think our hands might be tied by the Second Amendment in ways not applicable to countries with less gun violence.
Finally, I disagree with the notion that “now is not the time to talk about gun violence.” That it’s ghoulish political opportunism to discuss these things after people are dead. When a mine collapses and kills people, it’s an appropriate time to take a look at mine safety concerns. This is similar. Waiting until people are no longer focused on the problem doesn’t make a lot of sense.