Only a little over two weeks since Aurora, (see post of July 22, 2012) America again faces the pain and frustration of a mass shooting. What incredibly sad irony, the killing and wounding of Sikhs, and first responder police, within their temple, and during a worship service. The Sikhs are gentle, tolerant, peace-loving people. It’s hard to imagine a religious group less likely to inspire violence against them. And, here again, the murderer gave little indication of the huge threat he posed to those around him and, I suspect we’ll learn, acquired his weapon or weapons fully legally.
It is well past time…and it’s not too late…to seriously address the significant problems of public safety that our current culture and law of gun tolerance presents. Joe Klein, in the current issue of TIME Magazine, presents very sobering statistics about the prevalence of these mass shootings throughout at least the past 35 years and how prior assault weapons controls showed no apparent relief from the carnage. However, that implies a logical fallacy. Because that particular legislation failed to lessen the violence it does not follow that no legislation, no cultural shift can do so. Klein also, with chagrin and apparent resignation, also cites polling data that shows much reduced support for stricter gun controls over the past 20 years. I am more optimistic about the future.
The data are what they are, but they are not destiny. With strong and persistent leadership, from public opinion-makers, from legislators, from whoever resides in the White House, we can effect a change in this mentality toward access to weapons and toward aggressive treatment of mental illness that threatens us all. The current balance between individual liberties and public welfare and safety is just plain wrong. We can do better. We must. Shame on us all if we don’t even try.