This past week has been punctuated with stories of the mass walkout of 10’s of thousands of students protesting the gun violence and the mass shootings that have plagued this country in the past few years. Yet in all these protests, in all the news coverage, with all the fury at the NRA the real solution to the problem of mass shootings is never ever covered. There is a simple fact that no one wants to either present or face up to.
Everyone of these mass killings has been perpetrated by someone who has lost his connection to humanity, whose heart no longer values their own life and values the life of others even less. Whether Dillon Roof, Nikolas Cruz or Seung-Hui Cho, each of these mass murderers had become separated from a sense of belonging in society. It is that separation and alienation that resulted ultimate rampage. They are responsible for their actions but is all cases their willingness to commit slaughter could have been prevented.
In each case there was ample information to have intervened prior to the shooting. The people that interacted with these individuals noticed their spiral into the dark, yet those individuals did little to reach out and befriend or support these soon to be killers. The only way to stop this from happening in the future is to change the culture of non-involvement we have adopted. If we as individuals are indifferent as our neighbors descend into anger, depression and hate then it is not surprising that mass killings result.
First and foremost we need to recognize that the people responsible for these rampages are the individuals that are wielding the gun. Guns do not hop off the shelves and float over to the nearest college and kill a bunch of people on their own. People kill people. Troubled people kill more people. No gun law or gun ban will stop determined killers from obtaining a weapon. Chicago, Baltimore and France have proved gun laws only prevent honest people from getting guns.
The solution is so simple and so hard in a society that teaches indifference, non-involvement and victim hood. When we see individuals who express alienation, hate, anger and depression we need to reach out to those people and befriend them if we can. Even if we can’t befriend them we need to make others aware of their thought processes and seek to get them involved in life in a way the reduces their alienation.
At some point the police may help, or school resource officers, or even the FBI, but by the time they are getting tips, the situation has already escalated well beyond acceptable levels. The Florida shooting made it clear that law enforcement as a last line of defense is a flawed approach at best. Hardening the schools is also a last line of defense approach to this issue. Even metal detectors, which announce the presence of a gun do nothing to stop the perpetrator from walking into the school, or coming in an unprotected window.
If a fraction of the energy these students spent on gun protests was spent getting to know the people they interacted with. If teachers, parents, school resource officers and law enforcement took the time to interact and intervene identifying those that are alienated and reaching out to them, then this issue would all but disappear. As our society has become more disjointed and impersonal with the rise of the internet and entertainment that focuses on solo activities more and more people become disconnected from their fellow man. That alienation breeds attitudes and thought processes that make mass killing acceptable in those on the margin.
The problem is not guns, not the lack of hardening. It’s the lack of involvement and compassion that keeps people from reaching out to those in society that have lost their way and their connection to the community.