My heart goes out to everyone involved in today’s shooting in Connecticut. Especially to the victims and their families, the teachers, police officers, reporters, and other witnesses that will never forget what they saw today. Also to all the parents around the world that have to explain this to their children, I do not envy having that conversation. I am concerned about all the children (not unlike myself) that have to grow up in a country in which mass murders are frighteningly commonplace. Of course humans have killed one another ever since there was someone else to kill, but it seems as if school shootings and other mass murder events are rising both in frequency and potency.
As ever, there are many different opinions as to why this is happening and what should be done about it. One of the most common is that gun control regulations need to be strengthened and enforced more comprehensively. The argument is that this would keep guns out of the hands of troubled teenagers and then school shootings wouldn’t happen, or at least not as much. This does make sense, and I agree changes need to be made, although, it’s just treating a symptom.
The real problem is that children, teenagers, and young adults feel the need to kill as many of their classmates, teachers, family members, or co-workers as possible usually before ending their own lives. That’s the real problem here, not gun control itself. The question isn’t “How can we keep guns away from kids?” It’s “How can we help kids not want to shoot people in the first place?”
There is no simple catch-all solution to this systemic complex issue. Bullying, hazing, and school shootings themselves are the result of a worryingly troubled and increasingly marginalized youth population. More gun control, more mental health facilities, increased parental involvement, and more willingness to openly discuss and resolve conflict are all absolutely necessary to stem the tide of murdered children. But those aren’t the only necessary changes.
A paradigm shift is needed in the US. I’ve noticed that the US (and arguably most ‘developed’ individualistic societies) tends to hide the problem more than help solve the problem. This is particularly evident in the prison statistics. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. About 760 of every 100,000 Americans are currently in prison, or about 2.4 million total. And the career politicians in DC refuse to come to a conclusion about the badly needed economic reform, they’ll run the clock out on this whole Fiscal Cliff situation. In almost every case, the US will ignore or hide the problem at hand rather than make drastic changes to solve it.
Overall, the mindset in the US is not one of first taking the problem seriously, openly discussing possible solutions, and then actually helping the people involved to get it done and solve the problem. Rather, it’s more of a ‘hide, lock-up, or marginalize the troublesome people, minorities, and mentally ill and hope it works itself out’ point of view. How many children need to be mercilessly murdered before this nation stops pretending to treat symptoms and starts actually solving the problem?
I don’t have the solution, and anyone who says they do probably doesn’t either. This is a very complicated issue with many different causes which vary wildly across the population. But at least we need to focus on the root causes rather than the symptoms and their terrible results.