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Mass Shootings: We’re OK With Them

2 comments

I came relatively close to today's mass shooting at a spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, but not too close. I have played golf many times at Westmoor Country Club behind the building that houses the Azana Spa. Last evening I drove by on the way to the Majestic Movie Theater minutes away. I know women who patronize the spa where the murders occurred. In the wake of the Sikh temple shooting two months ago, I suppose we Milwaukeeans should be alarmed. We have certainly had our share of mass shootings in Wisconsin recently. Like many in Milwaukee, I am glued to the TV set when a mass shooting occurs in one of our upscale neighborhoods, but I know that nothing will be done that will prevent the next one. In our society, we're OK with the risk of random mass shootings. The right to possess weapons is more precious.

We will never be able to identify the next nut, and the next nut has no difficulty acquiring a firearm. In fact, he probably already has one. And even when we suspect who the next nut may be, we lack any effective means to stop him. Today's is a case in point. On October 18, a hearing was held on a petition for an injunction by the man's wife, who alleged domestic abuse. The injunction was granted and the court ordered the man to stay away from the woman and to surrender his guns to the Milwaukee County Sheriff. Rather than choosing to comply with the order, today he went to the spa where she works and used a handgun to kill three people and wound four others before killing himself, according to current information.

One needs to ask whether it makes sense merely to issue an order for a voluntary surrender of guns to a man against whom an injunction has been issued (which means he has been found to be a danger to the petitioner), rather than locking him up and going to his home and seizing his weapons. But we don't have the resources to assign law enforcement to do this in every domestic abuse case where there are weapons in the house. And the truth is that we are not worried enough about these random events to curtail the availability of weapons in our society.

Talk about improving mental health services is a nice sentiment, shared by Obama and Romney at their second debate, but this worthless pablum will rarely identify the next deranged person who lashes out with a firearm to avenge the slight that suddenly sends him into a fit. And the idea that preventing mass shootings by expanding those carrying firearms, concealed or otherwise, is laughable. Can you imagine the ladies at the spa packing handguns and having them available next to their pedicure chairs in case a crazed gunman were to enter and begin shooting the place up?

Bottom line: gun rights are a third rail in American politics. No political officeholder is willing to advocate for gun control, and there is no organized lobby for victims of gun violence. The last successful effort was the Brady Bill,where an attempted Presidential assassination and permanent injury to his well liked press secretary motivated Congress, who knew the victims personally and marshalled the will to take on the NRA. With a tea party Congress, the pendulum has shifted back to favor gun rights. This despite the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. No one is even talking about any new legislative solutions to gun violence. So we may feign outrage about these events when they occur, but we as a society have decided that their random occurrence is preferable to gun control. We're OK with the risk of random mass shootings.

2 Comments

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  1. Lou Gots says:
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    Obama has touched the Third Rail by bringing up the failed “Assault Weapons” “Ban.”

    In a close election, like 2000, guns make a difference. Guns may very well do it again. We have been handing out voter registration form at our ranees for months, now it’s time to like up volunteer drivers for election day.

    Once more unto the breach, dear rriends.

  2. Jay Davies says:
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    This article is quite dismissive of the REAL root which is how difficult it is to identify and involuntarily commit somebody suspected of mental challenges and violent. I’m not advocating a significant change in how difficult that its just pointing out that it is in fact the root of the problem. This writter CHOOSES to instead focus on access to firearms siting the killer at the spa. However, even it it were possible to completely eliminate the possibility of the killer getting a gun… why on earth would anyone assume that this killer would not simply choose a different method for commiting murder? Simply stopping at the gas station on the way to the spa to pick up a pack of matches, maybe a padlock and a gallon of gasoline and he could have easily killed just as many or more. The truth is there are an infinite number of tools a criminal can use to commit murder, they don’t need guns (see 911, see Oklahoma City, etc) which means even if it were possible to eliminate guns altogether there is absolutely no reason to beleive it would stop crazy and/or criminals.
    So what are guns good for? They are convienent. But convienance is not paramount for criminals or crazies because they by definition get to chose when and where they attack. Conversely convienance IS paramount for anyone wishing to haven effective defensive tool becasue they do not get to choose when they will be attacked. Which is why guns are one of THE most effective/efficient tools for defense. So when you pass laws making it tougher for people to procure guns all you effectively accomplish is making it tough for law abiding people to defend themselves. Because criminals don’t need guns and by definition don’t follow the laws.