Gun control is not the answer.
Yes guns make it easier, and perhaps therefore more probable, for the Lanza’s of the world to kill many people. But let us remember something which most have forgotten in the past four days: the second amendment has nothing to do with hunting, or with skeet shooting. Nothing whatsoever. It exists so that everyday citizens may and will participate in the ordering of our republic; be it widespread resistance to a foriegn invasion, shooting a robber at your doorstep, or (yes) resisting the facistic usurpation of liberty by our own government. Perhaps that idea is quaint in a modern world of 7 billion people, Facebook, and nuclear weapons, but when viewed in this light and still held as legitimate it is rather clear that guns designed to kill other humans, i.e. semi-autos with detachable magazines like the 1911 above or the AR-15 used by Lanza, are exactly the sort of weapon the second amendment says we as citizens should have. Perhaps in an age of madness this is untenable, but altering it will require more than an act of Congress, and given the Roberts’ Courts treatment of the DC handgun law it seems clear that only a formal constitutional amendment will suffice, both legally and as a sufficiently clear statement of a change in national interests.
Mental health care is not the answer.
If you haven’t read “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” yet you ought to. Virtually all the criticism I’ve read of this article rings more alarmingly hollow than the aforementioned shallow, unconsidered cries for gun control. I work with such kids on a weekly basis, and Mrs. Long’s portrayal of mental illness at work in young adults in extremely accurate. Parents in these situations can do everything right, as it seems from one small glimpse Long did, and still have everything go wrong. I know of almost no social services which seriously deal with the question of what to do with a young man like Long’s son; one who may never be able to participate independently in society. Even with more than good enough mothering and an army of inpatient, outpatient, and in-home providers there may be little realistic hope for such children. How to humanely cope with that is not something our society has considered well.
Nothing is the answer; everything is the answer.
At first blush I’m skeptical of claims that we Americans are experiencing an exceptional period of public violence. I’ve yet to see convincing historical analysis on any side of this question, because this data tends to get lost with the passing years. That 24 hours news is good at making us more attentive and alarmed is probable, but might be besides the point. Madness may be inevitable and often beyond reason, but morality should compel us as a society to think deeply about causation and prevention. Urban areas of our country have too many people. Children and adults both spend too many hours looking at dark screens witnessing and playing at horrific violence. The overwhelming majority of our masculine archetypes are toxic. Too many of our schools at least tacitly support socialization which exacerbates rather than heals marginalization. The first problem associated with more extensive, aggressive, proactive mental health for the Lanzas and Loughners of the world is just this; that successful treatment must be done along with the wilfull wishes of the person in question. Real progress is not a movie-friendly month of intervention and epiphany, but a slow grinding of years and small moments whose efficacy is not seen for years, or decades. I don’t have to many particular policy solutions, but seeing the blankness of public outcry reduce solutions to an inch of bullet points reliably takes away what little hope I might have.
Huge, little things all through our world need to change; even if doing so provides only the most general of hopes that these horrors might be prevented.