Men Who Snap and Shoot

I’m not saying it isn’t horrific. It is.

I’m not saying we should take no notice. We should.

I’m not saying those slain shouldn’t be eulogized. They should.

I’m not saying the slayer’s frame of mind doesn’t count. It does.

I’m not saying there isn’t a gun issue. There is.

I’m not saying we ought not scrutinize the press. We ought.

I’m not saying politicians shouldn’t stop to take notice. They should.

I’m not saying we mustn’t grieve. We must.

What I am saying is that none of this is working. None of it is changing the situation. None of it is solving the problem of men who reach a point where slaying numbers of perfect strangers seems like a good solution to their woes.

Slaying perfect strangers is a good solution to their woes??

How does anyone get to such a preposterous idea?

I’m saying we’re missing this fundamental question in all of this. And if we really give a damn about changing it, as opposed to being inured to it – somehow accepting it as “the way things are” – being clear about what’s expected when it happens again – then we need to get much more serious about getting to the bottom of it.

If not, we’ll continue to argue over gun law, post pictures of candles and victims and young men on Facebook, cry over the nonsensicalness of it. And wait until it happens again to start all over. I guess that’s one choice.

I know we cannot possibly understand all the particular woes. Or identify the right warning signs. Or know the triggers. Or carry enough guns in all the places we live to “take these guys down.” So what’s the answer? We must teach our boys how to find solutions to their problems that do not involve violence. Simple.

I agree. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Or rather, men – white men, for the most part – mass murder people.

But until we’ve dealt with “the men” part of the problem, it seems like a good idea to get some of the guns out of the equation. I get the idea of having guns in the hands of “the people” so the “government” doesn’t think it can take over. But c’mon folks – how many guns does that take and do we really need automatic weapons in the mix? And the freedom to buy 6000 rounds of ammunition on the internet? (As my husband said, “if he’d bought 6000 marijuana seeds, he would’ve had someone knocking on his door before they were delivered.) And by the way, Colorado allows concealed weapons, so clearly that’s not the answer.

But going after the guns is only a stop-gap measure for the real issue: some men under pressure resort to violence. Simple as that. And complex as that. It’s gonna take a village to solve that one. So let’s get on it. Let’s form People Against Mass Murders. Let’s appoint a Mass Murder Czar and pay for task forces, and call for proposals and have them reviewed by panels of interdisciplinary experts, and develop specialized parenting clinics and establish a school curriculum with statewide standards for managing anger like we have for math. Let’s tax into oblivion violent video games sold to youth like we do cigarettes. Let’s set a glide path for ending mass murder in this country like we have for clean air. Let’s do what we do best in the US of A: take a gigantic, costly stand against this matter. 

Or not, but then let’s stop acting surprised when the next “tragedy” hits. 

By the way, here’s a bit of context: In 1959 Perry Smith and Richard Hickock killed four members of the Clutter family in Kansas, which Truman Capote memorialized in his best seller In Cold Blood in 1966, the same year that Charles Whitman stood in a tower on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin and started shooting. Ronald Joseph “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. shot his whole family in 1974, inspiring the film The Amityville Horror. The McDonald’s slaying by James Oliver Huberty took place a decade later, one of a multitude of mass murders in the 1980s. They include the Cleveland School Massacre (1989) and an array of other school shootings, two post office shootings – resulting in the phrase “going postal,” and computer programmer Richard Farley’s former workplace killing spree in Sunnyvale, CA. Colin Ferguson shot and killed six people and injured 19 more on the Long Island Railroad in 1993. Colorado was put on the mass murder map by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the infamous Columbine event of 1999. The Virginia Tech shooting by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007 resulted in 32 dead, and a psychiatrist shot 13, wounding 39 others at Fort Hood in  2009. And just last year,  Jared Lee Loughner showed up at a Safeway parking lot in Tuscon and shot six people, wounding 14 others including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

This, as I am sure you know, is a short list.

I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be stopped. It does.

See also Merit Badge and The Illusion of Conflict.


About Rebecca Reynolds

Leadership Guru; Systems Thinker; Complex Problem Solver; Facilitative Leader...also LOVE life, dog Wiley, good food, Malbec, forests, oceans, yoga stillness, the boxing bag, ballroom dance, and movies.
This entry was posted in conflict, Culture, Leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Men Who Snap and Shoot

  1. Sarah R. says:

    It’s not just the few who “snap.” It’s the glorification of violence throughout our culture. When will we be able to imagine a superhero who solves problems with compassion instead of fists? When will “Batman” play to an empty theater? As long as we think violence is OK within certain limits, there will be some for whom violence without limit is OK. And yes, we really have to fix our woeful mental health system.

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