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Jason Miller County Council at Large


March 28, 2018

Another Shooting! Are There Solutions?

Patricia A. Kelly

This one, occurring in a Maryland high school, didn’t count as a mass shooting, as it didn’t meet current criteria. In this case, the shooter died, one victim has been released from a hospital, and another lost her fight for her life in a trauma unit intensive care.

 

At a time when gun related homicide has decreased by as much as 50% in the United States, mass shootings, mostly occurring in schools and workplaces, are increasing dramatically. The actual number is difficult to ascertain, as the definition has changed. The most recent definition appears to be that the act of violence is not gang or domestic related, and that three people other than the perpetrator are killed.

 

The Mother Jones compilation of statistics relevant to mass shootings also considers possible causes, including:

 

                        Government background check failure

                        Increased access to guns

                        The desire for fame and notoriety

                        The copycat phenomenon

                        The chronic gap between expectations and achievement

                        Mental illness

 

Most of these factors could contribute to the explanation. Background checks should certainly be improved, and become more comprehensive and fair, with the possibility of record-clearing appeal.

 

Mental illness, so very common, with so few resources, must get some common-sense attention. It would make sense for serious mental illness history to be a part of background checks, just as proof of vision is required to obtain a driver’s license.

 

A few common-sense regulations for the gun industry, such as the restriction on bump stocks and large magazines, might be a good thing, too, but the Second Amendment must be protected.

 

Guns aren’t the problem anyway. The problem is that people are now willing to publicly kill groups of people they don’t even know, when, in the past, they wouldn’t.

 

Before the development of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle; before the time when parents allowed cell phones, I-pads and video games to raise their children; before President Barack Obama brought divided, protected classes to a new level; before 85% of the American people distrusted the government; before blaming others for your own failures became okay; before celebrities were in our faces hourly, flaunting their bodies and their riches; before sexual acting out and realistic violence were on our news feeds all day every day; before we started killing fetuses as birth control, and helping sick people kill themselves instead of providing them adequate comfort and care, people didn’t publicly shoot each other in groups very often.

 

People knew each other, and not just through Snapchat. Spending time with real people provided both connection and perspective. People became part of a community, understood their own normalcy; and knew that not becoming, God forbid, like Kim Kardashian; or owning a Tesla on their 16th birthday, didn’t mean failure. They knew their own lives and concerns were not unique.

 

Now, people live in a world where the news isn’t news, authority isn’t authority, it’s laudable to disrespect your leaders, and blame others for your own actions. You must be thin, fit and have perfect white teeth to feel okay about yourself, and the easiest way to become famous is to do something so outrageous that it goes viral.

 

Inability to see the wrong in this is partially due to social network-related isolation. You may think you have friends, but you can’t even be sure they’re real. You can kill masses of people in a video game. That’s not real either.

 

So, how real is it to go to school and slaughter dozens of people? After all, you’ve been living in an imaginary world so long that has warped your connection to the rest of society, not to mention the limits you’ve learned to place on the value of human life. Since mass murder not only releases your hidden frustration, it is so outrageous it would give you the chance to go viral and become famous. What is death anyway, if life is not real?

 

Modern technology is great in many ways, but no substitute for real life. Children need parents who put parenting at the top of their priority list.

 

Children, and all of us, need to be able to rely upon authority and respect it.

 

Children need structure and limits. They’re much happier if they know that someone strong and loving is in charge, will take care of them, appreciate them, and help them figure out what to do when a problem arises.

 

They need to learn to brush their teeth, clean themselves; dress appropriately; do their homework; eat well; take care of their rooms; do laundry and dishes; manage their finances; respect themselves; and develop the values that will help them figure out how to navigate life as adults.

 

Most of all, they need connection, and a sense of belonging.

 

I might want to shoot some people, too, if I spent my life alone on my bed, wondering about my gender, and looking at a phone.

 

patriciaklly@aol.com

 



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