Once again, we face a mass shooting, and predictably once again the cry will go up for more gun control.
Advocates of stronger laws will conveniently ignore that this event took place on a military base in Washington DC. The District of Columbia has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, they are quite possibly exceeded only by a set of 1993 executive orders banning all personal firearms from military bases. In short, the Washington Navy Yard was a gun free zone nested inside a firearm-restrictive city. Aaron Alexis violated multiple laws as soon as he crossed into the District, but those laws did nothing to stop him.
The problem isn’t the law. The problem is that Aaron Alexis, like all the mass murderers before him, was insane.
We have only ourselves and our good intentions to blame, because this all stems from a 1970s era initiative in mental health. Mental institutions became to be regarded as snake pits and chambers of horror, watch the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to get an idea of the attitude from that era.
While there was some truth in those attitudes, what was overlooked then (and still is today) is that some people are not capable of functioning in society, and some people are unbalanced to a point of danger. The latter probably should not be allowed to roam freely, for their own safety as well as the safety of others around them.
But that was all forgotten in the 1970s. Out of “compassion,” many mental institutions were closed down and the requirements for institutionalization were made much tougher. It was argued at the time that the mentally ill stood a better chance of recovery if they were mainstreamed into society, although as I recall little proof was actually offered.
Unfortunately, what this really turned into was a program to boot the mentally ill out the door and then ignore them. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the homeless in this country (particularly in cities) began just about the same time that the mental institutions were being emptied. It’s no coincidence that many of the homeless we see today are, clearly, mentally ill. They can’t function unassisted in society, but there’s no place for them to go any longer.
Forty years ago a guy like Aaron Alexis would have been restrained. Today our more “compassionate” society lets him walk the streets with no treatment, and eventually leads to the death of a dozen innocent people.
The simple fact is this: Anyone who wakes up in the morning and effectively says “What I need to do today is go murder a bunch of innocent people” is a person who meets a legal definition of insanity (“danger to self or to others”), and is a person who should not be allowed to roam free. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism that allows us to detect, intercept, and ultimately help both these individuals and their potential victims before the violence occurs.
I personally believe that in their hearts many liberals are aware of this problem and the cause, but they realize that solving the problem would be difficult, expensive…and would mean admitting the failure of a major liberal social movement. As such, they choose instead to blame the violence on guns, and push for gun control. Personally, I think they don’t expect to win, but in the meantime they can blame the killings on the NRA and individuals who oppose gun control.
And that means they can go about their days with clean consciences, which I suppose is really what is most important to them.