Some problems have no solutions.
It is not in the nature of Americans to believe that. We crossed a continent with steel rails, sorted out two world wars and put a man on the moon. It is in our nature to find solutions to problems, to overcome the challenge of difficult things.
Yet, every time there occurs what has now entered the lexicon as a ‘mass shooting,’ we look in every direction for the solution. More attention to mental health, more gun regulation, more security are all bandied about as the way to stop further tragedies of multiple gun murder. We seem to know that we cannot stop individual acts of murder. No one ever seems to claim that they can stop the next gang drive-by or domestic killing. Yet everyone seems to have an opinion about how we can assure that never again will more than two people be gunned down at one time in one place. That conversation goes on despite our childhood knowledge of Lizzie Borden and her ax.
The latest tragedy has started the conversation anew. We should have known the guy was crazy and done something, some say. Others are convinced that if there were some how magically no guns there would be no mayhem. Still others wonder how easy it is to wander on to a military installation and start shooting.
Unless we are going to melt down everyone’s shotgun, create camps for millions of people who have episodes we brand ‘crazy’ and strip search everyone going into any building in the country, these are talking points, not solutions.
This is not to suggest that we should not tighten security in public places. Indeed we suggested in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting that two armed officers be posted at every school. It does not mean that we oppose taking a closer look at people who commit acts outside societal norm.
It does seem that the latest shooter’s firing on noisy neighbors could have been a clue to future bad behavior. Checking the background of gun buyers for such crazy acts does not seem unnecessarily intrusive, as indeed was the National Rifle Association’s position when they were for it before they were against it.
Any one of these changes might stop the next mass shooting but it will not stop every mass shooting. We live in a complex society. There will always be nutters looking for attention, revenge or something ethereal that cannot be anticipated. The best we can do is work on this problem, we will not solve it.