Link back to Question #1.
One of the benefits of extended discussion is that it can at times bring more light to a subject than heat. Reading Watts’ second reply was one of those moments, for as he clarified his view, I realized that we actually were in some agreement, and both of us believe that a fear of being seen as ‘judgmental’ plays a role in the failure to deal with the shooters beforehand.
While I would agree that there is some stigma to mental illness, I see as a much bigger problem our inability to deal with mental illness. Civil liberties groups have fought so strongly for the rights of the mentally ill that they now make up a large portion of the homeless because they cannot function in society, but cannot be institutionalized. In some states privacy laws prevent mental illness from being used in background checks for firearms, and as I wrote in my last note, even when a person with violent tendency is identified, the only solution is to try and get them charged with a crime.
Maybe we run in different groups, but I just do not see the “visceral reaction” we have to those with disabilities, or mental illness. Frankly, as a teacher, I am aware of the problem of students falsely claiming disabilities in order to gain the advantages allotted them, such as extra time to take tests. Nor are Luther’s views or talk of superstition relevant, and Watts’ invoking these leads me to suspect that he may have read something into my use of the term alternative lifestyles that I did not intend.
As for government control of violent movies, or what has been called gore porn, I do not support any. Movies are an expression of society, but they also shape society. They are part of the larger process that forms the guard rails of civilizations. The issue is not just violence, but how violence is used and how it is portrayed. Much of the violence in movies dehumanizes and desensitizes. This will have a particular impact on the young as it shapes how they view the world. Thus we should not be surprised that some at the edge go over the guard rails and mimic what they see in movies when they decide to “go out in style.”
What is needed is not government control over the movies, but rather just more people who will stand up and question such violent movies. Frankly this is a place I would like to see some stigma. Instead, we nominate such pictures for academy awards.
But instead of discussing things that might actually have an impact, we are lost in a debate on gun control. Watts claims that “No one is legitimately talking about taking away guns.” Actually that is not quite true. New York Governor Cuomo said recently that, “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option.” Watts in his first note said that he would support the National Guard going door to door “confiscating illegal weapons.” Granted these would be illegal weapons, but when combined with efforts to make more and more guns illegal, the leap is not all that great.
But ultimately this is a straw man that avoids my main point. While gun control laws may not actually confiscate guns, the main effect it is to restrict access to guns by law abiding citizens. For example New York’s new law limiting clips to 7 bullets is not just a limit on clip size, it also make a large percentage of guns illegal. Law abiding citizens will no longer be able to purchase those guns.
The key issue with gun control is summed up by those silly signs prohibiting law abiding citizens from carrying guns into certain locations. They effectively say “No guns allowed if your intent is to protect innocent life,” for those are the only people those signs will affect. Such signs ensure shooter safe zones, and I do not believe it is a coincidence that these mass shootings have occurred at places where guns were prohibited. There is a reason mass murderers choose these locations.
The focus on gun control is a great example of the problems with liberalism. It is fundamentally grounded in emotional appeals that often approach close to, and at times reach, the point of exploitation. In the lines of Rahm Emanuel’s infamous statement to never let a crisis go to waste, it seizes on tragedy to push a larger agenda. It sees the real problem with things rather than in people. It sees solutions in expanded government control. Solutions that do not involve government are effectively ignored. It sees passing a new laws as equated with solving problems. It sees the failure with past efforts not as a failure in the approach but as a justification for even more government action.
Thus the calls for new gun control laws began literally within minutes of the Newtown shooting. The only acceptable solution is to further restrict the source of the problem, i.e. guns. Other solutions are laugh at, derided or just ignored as the only acceptable focus is on passing new gun controls laws, often in a rush, as in New York, which was done so quickly they forgot to exempt police. The fact that previous efforts at gun control have failed is seen as a justification for even more gun control.
The problem is not guns. Guns have been used to protect innocent life and to take innocent life. The problem is the person who wants to take innocent life, and that is where our focus should be.