Like many of us, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we could change the laws in this country so that we might actually be able to prevent incidents like the Connecticut school massacre.
I’ve long been an unenthusiastic supporter of stricter gun control. Supporter because I think the wild proliferation of guns is doing terrible things to our country. (Personally, I’d ban everything but hunting rifles.) Unenthusiastic because I have real doubts that anything other than a near-total prohibition would do much good — and that’s not going to happen.
At the moment, I’m thinking that we should focus on doing much, much more to screen people for mental illness before we allow them to buy guns. I don’t know if it would have mattered in Connecticut, especially if it turns out that the guns were purchased by the shooter’s mother. But it might very well have prevented the Gabrielle Giffords and Virginia Tech shootings.
And since we know that this is going to get bogged down in politics, it also seems to me that keeping paranoid schizophrenics away from guns might be the one issue on which Republicans could be persuaded to stand up to the NRA.
Jay Fitzgerald has a great post on the Muslim-terrorism meme that’s being flogged by some on the right following the Fort Hood tragedy. He writes:
Here’s a challenge to conservatives: What specifically would they do to prevent these types of attacks in the future? It’s put up or shut up time.
And Fitzgerald wrote that before today’s non-Muslim terrorism attack in Orlando.
Let’s be clear: Nidal Malik Hasan may well have been motivated by religion. But does it matter? We have a history of mass murders in this country because, sometimes, tragically, someone just goes off. Religion is a symptom, not a cause.
In today’s New York Post, the novelist Ralph Peters begins his commentary thusly:
On Thursday afternoon, a radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting “Allahu Akbar!” committed the worst act of terror on American soil since 9/11.
You know what? I didn’t even bother to keep reading. Thirteen people died in the Fort Hood attack. Thirty-two were slaughtered at Virginia Tech in 2007. Then again, the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, wasn’t a Muslim.
Rather than looking for a group to blame, we’d be better off celebrating the heroism of Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who shot Hasan, stopped his killing spree, and was injured while so doing. Patrik Jonsson has a terrific story in the Christian Science Monitor on how Munley applied the lessons learned at Virginia Tech.
In short: Move in and start shooting.