As usual, the long knives are out for guns again.
Whenever things like this happen, I am reminded of a leisurely walk through Napoleon’s wife’s garden in Strasbourg, France, I once made at midnight with some fine fellows, one of them a young Frenchman. I was impressed by the high amount of activity in the park and how safe it seemed. I remarked that there were few parks in America where we could do such a thing. The young Frenchman asked why, and I explained that getting mugged–or worse–was a real possibility. He said, “Oh! We have laws against that sort of thing in France.”
This illustrates a big part of the problem in trying to address events such as what occurred last week. One whole chunk of the population fails to understand that lawbreakers do not follow laws.
New laws only serve to further restrict people who already follow laws.
Since something as really elementary as this is not appreciated by huge numbers of people, again and again we have to face a raft of knee-jerk calls for this and that additional regulation, none of which will have any other effect than making people feel better. They won’t be a lick safer. If anything, they’ll be in even more danger, suffering under the delusion that their new laws will keep bad people from doing bad things. (Of course, these same people tend to dispute the idea that there are bad people. I realize that.)
The ingredients that go into making such horrific incidents are diverse and varied and very complicated. There are stands relating to mental health, strands relating to the nihilism rampant in our amoral society, and other components that are hard to measure and track in a given event. However, the perpetuation of these incidents is itself a separate question, and for that I think we would be remiss if we failed to note one of the main culprits:
With the way our media covers these events, it is easy to see how someone who feels marginalized in our society can see a way to become famous. There are some who say that if we removed every gun from the universe, mass slayings would cease. I doubt that very much. What I don’t doubt is that if mass slayings received no media coverage whatsoever, incidents such as this one would dwindle in number, if not cease altogether.
I think that I could probably get a lot of gun control advocates to agree with me on this. It’s really hard to dispute. Examples abound of the media behaving almost as rabidly as the misfits do. Here’s one.
So why not we ban newspapers, radio stations, cable news networks, and all other news sources from covering mass murders such as this one? Perhaps you might say that it is the speed in which this information flows–perhaps we shall only ban automatic, instantaneous news agencies? Perhaps only slow, semi-automatic outfits such as monthly news magazines should be allowed. Certainly, no live television, that streams bullet-bits on a 24/7 basis into the brains of all Americans, including those most vulnerable to the enticement of that kind of publicity.
But you say: “The Freedom of the Press is one of our fundamental rights. It is enshrined in the Bill of Rights!”
Are we really going to let a little thing like that get in the way of preventing the mass murder of dozens of school children?
Someone will no doubt rush to show how there have been mass murders in the past, when no mass media was present. The moral, of course, being that getting rid of news coverage won’t stop people from killing people.
I am being somewhat facetious, obviously. I do believe that the media is actually much to blame, but I do not believe it is the sole contributor. It would be stupid and simplistic to try to reduce it to this one thing and then tell each other that if we did this one little thing, all would be well in the world. We need to actually engage our brains.
And that’s a lesson I suggest we apply to other solutions being floated right now, almost all of them looking at the weapon the lawbreaker used, instead of the lawbreaker himself.
Not everything we may wish to consider will actually make us safer. It will only make us feel safer.
And there is a big difference between those two ideas.