I Don’t Know What To Do

There’s been yet another school rampage shooting, and I don’t know what to do except weep. Best I can tell, nobody else does either.

Oh, there’s a lot of noise and a ton of blame being thrown, and I’ve heard the phrase “common sense gun control” more times than I can count. It’s a meaningless string of words; if there were any effective way to stop rampage shooters with a simple, common sense approach, we’d have done it by now.

Whenever I say that, there are two responses:
“Well, at least do something!”
“Just ban guns! Ban them all!”

That’s not helpful. Politicians would love to be able to take some random action and pretend that makes it all better, but it won’t. The usual symbolic law that makes something harmless illegal won’t help either. I’m old enough to remember the cries of triumph when banning weapons with bayonet lugs was achieved — as though the rate of bayonetings is anything to worry about.

It’s frustrating as hell. I’d gladly support any effective response, but folks appear to be more concerned with vilifying the Other Side than coming up with anything practical. The last thing they’re doing is thinking — which is understandable; this is horrifying… but it’s no more useful than is throwing insults at half the country for the crime of being in a different political party. (Full disclosure: I’m independent.)

If you think banning all firearms is actually possible, you’re not seriously considering the problem. There are more guns than people in this country, and a large percentage of the populace would violently resist turning them in. Forbidding “assault weapons” is about as effective as getting rid of cars with racing stripes. Outlawing ammunition manufacture have been mentioned, but these conveniently ignore the ease of hand-loading. Finally: We’ve banned drugs for decades; all that accomplished was to create a trillion-dollar-a-year smuggling industry while imprisoning more of our own people than any other nation managed in all of history.

This cannot be solved by criminalizing, or restricting, or mandating, or any of the other words we use to describe blindly throwing money and cops at a problem.

I think this is because we’re thinking about it the wrong way — or worse, we’re not thinking; we’re reacting.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve reached the tentative conclusion that we don’t have a gun problem in this country, not really. What we have is a despair problem, and guns are the tool that lets people act on it. Even if we could get rid of guns completely (which we can’t), all we’re going to accomplish is to mask the root problem, which will then express itself in other ways — a plague of poisonings or bombings, people driving deliberately into crowds, and so on.

I can look around and see many possible reasons for hopelessness and despair, a very few of which we can fix. If we do, we will prevent a rampage shooting down the road. I won’t be able to pick out which one and neither will you, but someone who otherwise would have chosen to go out in a blaze of senseless destruction will instead be well-adjusted, contentedly working at their job.

That’s all I’ve got. It has nothing to do with guns, so nobody will try it, but it’s the only attempt at addressing this problem that I’ve ever figured even has the faintest chance of success.

Things we can fix:

  1. Most despair is economic; maybe we can try UBI. People leave high school and see no hope ahead, even if they do find a job. Pay is too low; professions are inaccessible; college costs way too much — and even if you manage to get past that…
  2. Nobody can pay the rent, much less buy a house. The market is absurd; in a time when the population is actually decreasing and fewer people than ever want a new house, we’ve suddenly got a shortage. Obviously it’s artificial. Let’s solve that.
  3. While were at it, let’s end the War On Drugs for once and all. Start by legalizing marijuana and anything else that’s mostly harmless, and develop medical rather than law enforcement approaches to addiction.
  4. If there’s a suicide and despair problem, it’s safe to say that we could address it directly by improving access to, and de-vilifying, mental health care.

Some say that anything is better than doing nothing; of course that’s foolishness. Any action we take must be guided intelligently, and aimed at the causes of our problems. Do that and we might well fix them; fail and we’ll be left here again — and again — and again.

NOTE: Each of the above hyperlinks is to another Not Fake News article on gun control. There’s a lot to read here; give it a try. You might learn something.

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