By Mike Sherman
Last week’s topic ignited a strong response with strong opinions. I believe many Americans are asking what can be done about mass shootings. Having read all of the comments, and several articles over the past few years, I’ve come to some conclusions as to the cause and potential solutions. If you have the time, continue on with your own analysis based on our findings, then offer all of us your suggestions and conclusions.
THE CAUSE: Latchkey kids, Internet games of violence, and voluntary solitary confinement. Throw in the fact that God has been thrown out … removed from the forefront of our social structure. If you think divorce is not a factor, think again. Kids are like a ship at sea, without a rudder. Abortion makes kids wonder just what value do we place on human life? What influences their thoughts? The single parent is too busy and the grandparents live on the other side of America.
I could continue on and on but I think you get my drift. The cause is complicated, convoluted and difficult to fully grasp because of the sheer volume of reasons for mass killings. Factor in the shock value that accompanies the horrors played out on national television and it is no wonder many experts cannot agree when talking about the cause. The bottom line? We are no longer the United States of America.
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS: Go camping – you’ll be safe! Statistically, that is – or so it would seem.
There are things we can do to help avoid the mass killings. Background checks are a good start. There is one untapped source of vital information being overlooked in the background process. They check FBI and DOJ data bases for convictions that would prohibit gun ownership, but we all know the bad guys don’t buy their weapons from gun dealerships. Some claim the effort is worthless.
However, a great source of information for law enforcement are the local authorities – your county sheriff and local police department. Local law enforcement agencies have computer files on just about anyone they come into contact with. Not every contact results in an arrest (and records subsequently sent to the FBI and DOJ). If someone is questioned about loitering, for example, and the officer determines the person has a legitimate reason for being where they are at, there is no record of the event other than their local data base. They are called “Incident Reports” or “Field Interrogations”– records that describe a short “who, what, when, where, why” episode. They contribute to a local database that contains good background information, and some of it might be useful to a background check regarding a gun purchase, but the DOJ and FBI will not know about it.
For example, little Johnny gets caught killing a cat. The police are called. They take a report, but there is no arrest or other legal action that sends the information to anyone other than the local department’s computer. Five years later, little Johnny has grown up and applies to purchase a weapon. The inquiry goes out to the FBI and DOJ but that’s it. Johnny gets his gun.
However, if the inquiry also included a local check they would get information that can be useful. Granted, no cause for denial of the purchase but certainly worthy of a visit from the local sheriff and perhaps a mental health worker to do an assessment. A simple knock on the door with a “Can we talk?” inquiry. No rights have been violated. Johnny can slam the door, but more likely enjoys the attention and invites them in. They talk. Other local history on him might raise more red flags worthy of consideration.
Granted, there would have to be laws on the books stopping the sale based on “local” information; but, honestly, how many times have we read about a killing suspect’s past coming to light after the fact? “Approval should have never been granted based on this information”… Ever heard that before?
In other words, if we are going to do a background, then do a real background. And we need to get real regarding “assault” rifles. They have been labeled “assault” because some look like an M-16. It’s still just a rifle. Turn it into an automatic rifle and add high capacity clips and then, yes, we have a serious problem: It is no longer a rifle used for just self-defense or target practice. So we should focus on the “mass killing capability” that is the core problem. While restricting high capacity magazines is not a solution, it does offer a level of prevention. Many assailants have been tackled while reloading.
But the bottom line is these killings will continue. It used to be someone “going postal” – a government employee walking into work with a pistol and killing a few co-workers. That was a trend that has changed. Enter “road rage.” For a while it seemed like it was happening daily. That too has subsided.
But these mass killings – they seem to be increasing, in both the number of victims and number of mass assaults taking place across America on an annual basis. The killers are using weapons that I used in Vietnam. Factor in some of their reasons for murdering innocent strangers and it becomes impossible to wrap our mind around the entire event. The Las Vegas concert killings remain “unsolved” – no clear reasoning for such carnage.
As adults, we strive to understand the world we live in; we want to understand why something happens. Motive becomes important in a murder trial, and understanding motive in our nightly news segments becomes important. It enables us to cope. But some of the nuts out there today – It boggles the mind to grasp “What were they thinking?” In some cases, we will never know.
It has become obvious that another solution is to saturate public venues with armed officers AND citizens. One shooter was stopped within 30 seconds because the police were nearby. Another was stopped early enough to prevent dozens and dozens of additional victims. An off-duty fireman with a concealed gun permit comes to mind also, drawing down last week on a nut before he could fire a single shot, at a Walmart no less.
You won’t believe this, perhaps, but many murders are prevented by citizens who happen to be in the right area at the right time, armed with a license to carry a concealed weapon. The mainstream media refuses to highlight such incidents – it goes against a liberal media’s agenda.
You want to see an increase in mass killings? Keep offering up “gun-free zones,” and make it more and more difficult for good, honest citizens to obtain a concealed weapons permit. Personally, I like the idea that 10%+ of the guys in my church service are packing heat. If I am in a theater, I am comforted by the fact that there might be a few armed citizens. If something goes wrong, I could finish my popcorn before the cops arrive … depending on the location. I am thankful for school teachers that go through training to arm themselves in school districts that are smart enough to allow it. And let us not forget airline pilots. Can’t call 911 up there!
So, now I have offered up enough dust to overrun the comments section with ample responses. Please, try to keep them civil.
Until next week, be alert, be safe, and if you see something, say something.
Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.
Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at [email protected] if you have questions, or leave a comment below.
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