Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trigger Warning: Something Fundamentally Wrong

Another school shooting....I heard about it halfway around the world.
Just from the headline I could picture the murderer. Young white male, withdrawn, down on his luck.
The presumed killer met my description to a tee. What does young, white American males have in common, which is shared between the working class and middle class?

 Generation Z is the first generation to live in the era of frequent mass killings. I was out of high school before mass killings became an epidemic in America. What has gone wrong? Three answers to start: Social media pressures, emotional infantilism of teenagers, and glorification of violence in media. More reasons?

Giving guns to dangerous people:
Young mass murders seldom buy firearms with money they earned. On top of the purchase price, boxes of ammunition are too expensive on a ramen diet. The usual story is that the killer got a gun as a gift, or got a loan to buy a gun. I would support liability insurance requirements for inexperienced gun owners.

Ostracizing and De-facto Criminalization of mental illness:
Despite health privacy laws, diagnosis of mental illness is carried on permanent records. It affects one's ability to join the military, get a high paying contractor job, own a firearm, drive a car, or even participate in civic life. With the digitalization and interstate access to records, there may be a perception that a mental health diagnosis is something to be avoided, when it is something needed to get appropriate (though stretched and underfunded) treatment. As if it were a criminal record.

It might trigger the "You can't have it" theory illustrated on South Park. When a gun ban is proposed, people rush to buy guns. President Obama, it is said, was the best firearm salesman. On a smaller, personal scale, when a person is marked as ineligible to own a gun, he has the urge to get his hands on one. That said, several killers have no significant criminal record, but a disturbing history of behavior. Courts should be able to put a clinically unstable individual's firearms in the custodianship of a responsible individual. Without rendering a person legally incompetent.

Disrespect for authority figures:
In a former time, when much of the world lived under dictators or communists, public officials were given respect for being democratically elected. While there is a place for holding authority accountable to the people, the past several years the disrespect is incredible. It occurs in the media, on the streets, and even in the halls of city governments. Then there are the government shutdowns, which is totally prejudicial to good order. As of last month, both major parties are guilty of unleashing this anarchist tactic. Violent protests are a stark contrast to MLK's approach of non-violence. How could this not translate to disruptive behaviors and grossly disrespectful behavior in the classroom?

Mistrust of authority:
  Students need to understand that safety issues can be raised without resorting to intrusive searches of the innocent. That raising a concern will not trigger full SWAT.

Deadly marksmanship:
 Columbine was shocking since that kind of violence was rare at the time. But recent events made Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold part of the JV squad of school killers.
In the inner-city, bad aim and good trauma care have given many people second chances. I have seen it multiple times on the news, which reports that a  gang member opens fire into a crowd. One dead, seven injured. Six injured. Four injured, one dead.  (It should be noted that injury by firearm can cause permanent damage). What these school shooters have today is horrific accuracy, better than on actual battlefields. If we could do one thing, keep the guns out of dangerous peoples' hands.

Soft targets:
Since 1990, we've gone from acceptance of hunting rifles in the high school parking lot to mass murder despite restrictions on guns in school. The 1990's federal school gun ban originated form 1980's incidents of one-on-one violence between ex lovers, gangs, and grudges.

That did not change policies of wide open doors and lack of preparedness in once-peaceful suburbs. Columbine was a one-time tragedy. This Florida high school was ready, and yet the Valentine's Day killer slayed 17 in 6 minutes. One dead every 20 seconds, plus the wounded. In Washington, DC the local public schools have metal detectors. A good measure, but not foolproof: armed attacks have occurred at the security checkpoints of the US Capitol, DC's Metropolitan Police Headquarters, and the Holocaust Museum in DC. As Rudy Giuliani demonstrated in New York City, visible presence is a deterrent. 

OK, OK, maybe its the guns: and how they are glorified in certain circles. In deference to 1st and 10th amendments, restrict paid advertising, of gun makers, across state lines to prevent criminally-minded people from gaining a bloodlust from reading magazines and internet pages.