At first I likened these shootings to natural disasters; periodic human hurricanes that could be prevented if somebody just noticed the instability at the right moment. But these events have become a daily occurrence, and their frequency is only increasing. We are dealing with a human virus. These shooters are the compromised cells of American society. And we literally cannot keep up with the infection. In the course of writing this, I learned about a new shooter in Savannah, Georgia.
I think the first step is to stop allowing shooters to act as successful vectors. To abandon this collective obsession with publicly exploring the lurid stories that motivate them. Every time we talk about what made them different on the screen, we’re telling other angry people that they can be special too. Every time we explore their motivations, and attempt to explain their inexcusable behavior, we are telling them that their agendas deserve consideration. Police must continue to investigate all the evidence. Experts should scrutinize these people as individuals and part of a larger pattern. As a community, we must do everything we can to pull people on the precipice back to rational humanity. But the next time there’s a spree shooter, I don’t want to hear his name on the news. I don’t want to know his skin color, religion, gender or agenda. Once he pulls the trigger, he is just another infected cell.
But that’s just triage, a way to slow the spread, and we need a vaccine. 355 spree shootings later, and we still can’t get people to admit that we have a gun problem. That’s not the only issue in play here, but this doesn’t happen anywhere else on the planet, and it is insipid to deny a connection between this virus, and the uniquely ubiquitous availability of guns in America. The blade itself may not necessarily incite acts violence, but damned if blades don’t make it easy to stab people.
I cannot acquire meds unless a doctor verifies that I need them and will not use them to do harm to myself or my community. It is high time we extend the same caution to bullets. Yes, you should have to explain what you need those fifteen clips of AR ammo for, whether it’s hunting, training, or self-defense. We need more opportunities for law enforcement and truly responsible gun owners and purveyors to throw red-flags on lunatics. What is that inconvenience weighed against dozens of lives? If you are truly responsible, you can admit that this epidemic is a graver threat than domestic terrorism, or an encroaching government.
We also cannot afford to pretend guns do not exist, or that we will magically confiscate them, or that more oversight is a sufficient form of control. A good way to impress the gravity of a weapon on a person is to train them how to use it. Classes on responsible gun ownership should be mandatory before a purchase, and freely available to anyone who wants to know how guns work. Such programs would also provide yet another opportunity to scan our crowds for people who are infected.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we have to move past sentimental platitudes. Your “thoughts and prayers” are not going to solve a damn thing. They are spit in the victims' eyes. Such replies are compulsory, political lip service to dodge the issue and absolve the speaker of responsibility. To our president, to our congressmen, to our courts and lobbyists: you are not absolved. You are not forgiven. This is happening on your watch and you are failing your country. Each one of you must do more to solve this problem because we are sick and people are dying.
As it stands, being shot to death in a spree is now an assumed risk in the United States. And that is unreasonable.