America is shocked and saddened over the tragic slaughter of innocent elementary students by a mentally disturbed individual’s surrender to the evil which guided his actions.
Despite what we’re being told by practically every news outlet, mass spree killings are still, thankfully, rare occurrences. The taking of human life for no understandable reason leaves us bewildered and bereaved for the senselessness of the situation. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families while we silently thank God that it happened so far away from us and beg His protection for ourselves and our families.
However, when the victims are a group of innocent children ensconced in the safety of their elementary school excitedly learning about new things and looking forward to Christmas with their bright smiles and eager eyes, words fail to express the horror we feel at such a totally unexplainable manifestation of evil. We sit and numbly reflect on various evil episodes in the vain attempt to categorize this most current event in a futile effort doomed to failure with the realization that it must occupy a new level of evil previously unknown to our experience. The basis of our collective shock is the realization that we have no experience with evil at this depth of depravity.
Cynicism returns quickly enough as those who seek to appropriate this senseless tragedy to further their political aims begin explaining why it supports their position, with the favorite contender being gun control. While the shock and emotion is still raw and unprocessed, calls are already being made for increased gun control despite the fact that the weapons used to wreak this evil mayhem were legally purchased by one of the victims and the perpetrator suffered from mental problems. Our emotional and mental processing of this unimaginable event is already being hijacked by those who wish to employ it for base political purposes.
This cynical process unfolds first with a knee-jerk reaction to call for more rules, as if more rules would matter to an unstable individual with no compunction for breaking the rules already in place. Rules do not prevent those bent on evil from wreaking havoc, and more rules will not change this fact. Bad ideas such as more gun control, or locking down the schools, or just anything as long as we’re doing something get thrown around without thinking through the implications of their adoption. For instance, locking down the schools might have the adverse effect of trapping students in a fire, which is certainly not an outcome anyone desires.
Considering gun control, the firearms involved were legally purchased and belonged to an individual with no criminal record and having no mental instability. It has yet to be determined if the guns were properly stored to avoid the perpetrator from having access. The perpetrator had a history of mental problems, but he was not committed to an institution to avoid infringement of his rights, and we do not know if he was off of his medication. Despite all of the rules in place and followed, this tragedy still unfolded as evil ran rampant. Being mentally unstable, the perpetrator was not allowed to own or handle firearms, yet he ignored these rules to take up arms and commit unspeakable evil.
We no longer institutionalize the mentally ill for fear of infringing upon their rights. We allow them to sleep on sidewalks if they so desire, despite the fact that they are not capable of making rational choices in their own best interests. We’re told that their rights trump the rights of society to be safe from their instability, and that we must respect their rights even though they are incapable of respecting our rights. When they invade our space, we’re told we must make allowances for their inability to know better. I seriously doubt those parents who’ve lost their children are concerned with the rights of the mentally disturbed as they grieve and grasp for the ever illusive understanding which will never come.
Given the demise of civility in our politics, there is no chance Americans would be allowed to come to terms with this evil in a rational process before being subjected to calls for action of some kind. There is no way reasonable people could objectively view this event to determine any effective changes which would actually make its repeat less likely. And finally, there is absolutely no chance that sacred cows such as extending rights to the mentally unstable who are not capable of understanding the danger they pose to society through their instability could be revisited with an eye towards admitting mistakes and seeking effective solutions.