My daughter is playing Mario Kart. My son just went downstairs to use the computer, probably to look at YouTube videos of elevators or garbage trucks. I had the idea that I would simply collect them and give them a long, multi-hour hug, but neither of them were onboard for that. So now I have retreated to my bedroom with my iPad, watching the news and the Twitter feeds.
I am trying to see the road forward from here and I am getting nowhere.
I don’t see how wholesale gun control is possible, given the existence of the 2nd amendment. You can say “repeal the 2nd amendment!” and I would sympathize with your fury, but even a glance at the math reveals this course to be impossible. Even if today’s spectacle ignited such disgust that sweeping gun control was the result, the upshot of that would be a WHOLE lot more people in prison — and my guess is most of them would be young, black men, just like with the drug war.
(Also, I have a difficult time believing, seeing as these crimes were committed in New Jersey and Connecticut, that no gun laws were broken before the actual murders occurred. So I wonder what additional laws might have curtailed this.)
Even to ban particular kinds of guns gets us nowhere, I am sorry to say, for one simple reason: Technology. At some point in the near future — sooner than I have the stomach to imagine — any fool will be able to create a powerful weapon in his own home, with the help of a 3D printer and plans downloaded from the Internet. You can make that act illegal if you like. We probably will. I have a hard time seeing how that would help.
I’m not saying there is nothing to be done on the gun control front. I’ve read in a few places today about closing the “gun show” loophole — the laws are laxer, evidently, if you buy a gun in a convention center instead of in a store. Fine, let’s fix that — that sounds pretty serious. But would that have stopped today’s horrors? We don’t yet know. I halfway hope so. I hope this twit bought his guns at a gun show, thus providing us with a course of action, lit up like an airplane runway at night. I doubt it will prove to be that simple.
Holy God, I feel helpless. Worse, I feel like a jerk, sitting here saying why we CAN’T do this or do that, how our rage and passion will lead nowhere, how nothing can be done. I’m not doing it to be contrarian. I’m doing it because that’s what I see from here, and I’d like whatever solutions we come up with to work.
What about the mental health angle? I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb to assume that the murderer was not sane. Could we have done something about it earlier? Again, it’s too soon to say for sure. Let’s say he’d been making people nervous for a while, but he hadn’t yet done anything wrong, so there was nothing we could do. So again, let’s pass some new laws. At what point do the authorities swoop in and pick people up, preventatively? And what would they do with such people? I don’t know the answers to those questions.
Even if those questions have good answers — answers that don’t lead to innocent people being put away for the Greater Good — what if today’s killer passed for perfectly normal?
Maybe the answer lies at the intersection of gun control and mental health. I’m not sure what that answer is (and I think we have established that by now). Perhaps it could simply be a reference system: If you want to buy a certain class of guns, you have to provide the names of three references. The point of this is not necessarily that these references could stop you from buying the gun, but simply that multiple somebodies should know you bought such a thing.
Of course, hot on the heels of that half-assed idea comes a hundred ways of defeating it. So again. I don’t know.
I’d make a terrible pundit. All these talking heads and spokespeople out there, so sure of what we should do now. How do they do it?
In the end, we demand Change because we want to believe that if we make the right move, say the right words, set up a meeting with the right committee members and have them write up the right bill, that we can seal off any possibility of something like this happening again. Alas, alas, I don’t see how that can be true. Perhaps we can change the culture, slowly and painfully, so that we are more like Japan or even Canada, where gun violence is rare. But to pass a law and make it all go away? That is a wish on a star.