Maybe There Isn’t A Solution For Tragedies Like The One In Aurora
Any time there is shooting like the one in Aurora, Colorado, there erupts an immediate public policy debate. Some want tougher gun laws. Others want tougher laws to find and detain those with mental problems that could lead to violence. All sides of the debate are convinced that more of the sort of policies they supported would solve the problem of these shootings.
But I think the Wall Street Journal strikes the right tone in response. Maybe there isn’t a public policy solution.
The much harder question is how a free society protects itself from a twisted mind. Families, educators and medical professionals need to be aware of the behavior that might signal psychotic breaks of the kind that tormented Loughner. In the case of Breivik, simple evil seems to suffice as an explanation.
A civilized modern society is paradoxically more vulnerable to an act of individual malevolence than it is to a terror plot that at least its law enforcers are watching for. There may be no real defense against the Loughners and Holmeses save for the guardrails of watchful friends, family and community. And society’s determination through its justice system to suitably punish the killers.
The conclusion many jump to, in the face of a societal ill, is that there is a public policy solution. But there may not be. We, as a nation, tried to fix drunkenness with public policy in the form of national prohibition and it failed, spectacularly. In modern times policy makers are seeking to solve the problem of expanding waist lines with public policy that, while perhaps not as draconian as prohibition, will almost assuredly fail as well.
The truth is that drunks don’t stop being drunk until they want to be sober. Fatties don’t get skinny until they decide they really want to lose weight. And we will continue to be hurt by psychopaths like James Holmes, Jarred Loughner and Seung-Hui Cho as long as we allow them to withdraw into their psychoses without intervention from friends and family.
“Stricter gun control laws will not deter determined lunatics,” writes Ace, and that’s exactly right. Even if we could take guns away – and we couldn’t, just as we couldn’t eradicate alcohol from America – those committed to mayhem would find other means to their ends. Like perhaps driving a car into a crowd, or other methods.
The problem isn’t guns or anything else that can be restricted by policy. The problem is decisions people make. And it’s a problem we’ll struggle with as long as we let people make free choices.Tags: aurora shooting, gun control