OK, there I got your attention. I cannot help but notice that every last major massacre since Columbine has happened in a suburban or exurban community. I will guess that in big cities there are resources that connect us to each other. Because there are so many people around it takes special efforts to isolate oneself. We also benefit from having that critical mass of population to have readily available therapists, counseling and social service agencies. In rural areas, I suspect that family bonds and more stable communities reduce risks of mass killings. Lastly as a ground rule although I am publishing this under RKBA, these are my own positions and not those of the group. Just to be clear.
We are not connected enough to our neighbors. We are not socially involved as we used to be. We create private cocoons and ignore the public spaces. We spent time on Facebook but not at cafes, bowling alleys and bars. Instead of spending time with people, we electronically mediate our communications, losing the context of face to face communication in the process.
Guns: There is no fix that respects the liberal project and and reduces gun related violence. I believe that personal and societal moral improvement is possible and desirable. To reduce murder by banning guns suggests that us humans are incapable of mastering our emotions or managing mental illnesses without making every room a padded room. This is a dangerous road to go down because at the end we end up infantalized and unworthy of citizenship, ruled over by a elite "for our own good." The best we can do is clean up the background check system and develop a compromise. The short version is to keep the present regulatory regime (guns may not be purchased by felons or persons who are mentally ill, subject to a restraining order, etc.) but require all states to submit records of these prohibited persons to a federal database. The second part is to modernize the instant background check system and provide some mechanism so the NRA gets something out of it because I am more worried about the mentally unstable or criminal getting sharp pointy objects than the average person.
There are many reasons to own guns, some not virtuous (furtherance of criminal activity, strange and archaic notions of masculinity, and an unhealthy obsession with sharp pointy objects) and some respectable (competition, hunting, sport, self defense and recreation). As for me, I love competing against myself and seeing how well I make holes in the center of a distant target with a .22 rifle. Its not as easy as it looks and requires a zen-like calm. I need more practice.
Edit: Its Adam Lanza not Ryan Lanza. Thank you Tommy for Catching That.
Mental health: We know that the shooter, Ryan Lanza had some sort of mental health problem. We have long underfunded psychiatric care. This is a case where the HFOG (Heavy Foot of Government) should be applied. Mandate that states and municipalities that want their federal highway money establish these facilities over the objections of the NIMBYs. Improve evidence based treatment and develop better methods of identifying people likely to resort to violence. We can also complete lead abatement in housing as lead is a neurological poison that causes violent behavior and learning disabilities. We cannot accurately predict which people with mental illness or criminal records will attack other people. We need more research, not hasty legislation.
Community: We do better when we have human contact. This means affordable, livable, walkable communities, rail based transport, and laws that specifically encourage live music, connecting with communities and living with and interacting with people who are different. We can accomplish some of this by banning the cul-de-sac, promoting traditional street grids, encouraged transit oriented development and taking various public policy steps to make it easier to spend more time with people. I also have to wonder if some of this is a 3rd or 4th order effect of desegregation. Where many whites fled cities in response to integration in the 60s and 70s, did they elevate the private realm to a dangerous place where there is less human interaction? Did deciding that car ownership is an essential metric of success mean that we are more isolated from each other as we then rebuilt our cities for cars and made them inhospitable for people? Should the drop in religious service attendance be viewed as part of becoming less communicably involved (just for the record, like Jefferson, I don't care if you believe in 10,000 gods or no gods)? There are alternatives for non-theists. Go down this road and we rebuild our cities and towns, surround them with belts of farmland and eventually leave plenty of space for the wild beyond.
Guns are a potent symbol. We give them many meanings. I tend to think first of the craftsmanship, history and the satisfaction of a nice small group in a paper target (still working on that). Secondly, I think of Orwell's famous quote: "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." Orwell was speaking of the involvement of the working class in Home Guard units during the 2nd World War. In our age, I think it speaks to a sort of civic engagement, not the defense of our republic by force of arms but to struggle against the kleptocratic elites who desire us to be consumers, not citizens. To be more than atomized individuals, to be part of something large than ourselves.
Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a DKos group of second amendment supporters who have progressive and liberal values. We don't think that being a liberal means one has to be anti-gun. Some of us are extreme in our second amendment views (no licensing, no restrictions on small arms) and some of us are more moderate (licensing, restrictions on small arms.) Moderate or extreme or somewhere in between, we hold one common belief: more gun control equals lost elections. We don't want a repeat of 1994. We are an inclusive group: if you see the Second Amendment as safeguarding our right to keep and bear arms individually, then come join us in our conversation. If you are against the right to keep and bear arms, come join our conversation. We look forward to seeing you, as long as you engage in a civil discussion.As always, if you're interested in joining RKBA, message KVoimakas.