Mass shootings and valuing human life
The tragic death of five shooting victims in Raleigh should give us an extended pause. First, it should remind us of the immense value of life. For the ideologues, politics is and will remain the sole focus of the shooting. In fact, for many, frantic calls for gun control inevitably become the only solution. Yet, it’s hard to fathom that family breakdown and cultural decay are not playing a significant factor in mass shootings.
As pointed out in CJ, one of the glaring issues of trying to trample over a Constitutional right is that the vast majority of the tens of millions of lawful gun owners never have an issue with a firearm. Eight out of 10-gun crimes are committed by somebody with a handgun who acquired it illegally.
Still, gun ownership necessitates a society of responsible citizens. They must be highly vigilant of firearms in their own home and who might have access to them. Parents with young people in the house who are not equipped for a firearm have a moral duty to secure them. Wilhelm Röpke, the late German economist, offers a helpful adage: “We can breathe the air of liberty only to the extent that we are ready to bear the burden of moral responsibility associated with it.”
However, blaming guns for societal violence is fool’s gold. In May, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered a prescient point many of us already know.
“Why is our culture suddenly producing so many young men who want to murder innocent people?” asked Sen. Lee. “Could things like fatherlessness, the breakdown of families, isolation from civil society, or the glorification of violence be contributing factors?”
The ideologue will reflexively hiss and sneer at merely offering such a suggestion. It thwarts their plan for control — which points us to the critical phrase in the very words “gun control.” More importantly, statements like Lee’s remind us that many of the solutions to mass shootings aren’t going to come from the government.
Mass shootings are horrific and attract media attention unlike anything else today. But all violence and loss of life are tragic.
In Raleigh and across North Carolina, violent crime has increased. In a previous column, John Hood pointed out that Raleigh’s violent crime is up 23%. Instead of politicians only being outraged by this shooting, they should be outraged by all crime and loss of life. Part of looking beyond the gun requires the humanity to tell the stories of all loss of life from crime, not just those who live in more affluent neighborhoods or in the cases of violence that is politically expedient. Most conservatives rightly grew frustrated at mayors and many urban politicians turning a blind eye to some violence or even cheering the calls to defund the police as crime and destruction raged.
Likewise, we should be honest about the moral significance of affirming life today in our culture. It’s highly plausible that the more than 60 million abortions in the U.S. since the early 1970s promote damaging views on the value of human life in the wider culture. How we collectively view the human person intrinsically matters. There is no running away from that simple truth.
An NPR report offers up clues to the motivation and reasoning of mass shooters. “When someone has been struggling alone for a while and failing, their despair can turn into anger, the researchers say.”
A further step is embracing revenge and a victimhood mentality, while deeply identifying with past shooters. Many of the symptoms of preventing the escalation to action are found in the words of Sen. Lee. Yet, that requires tremendous work and cultural care.
Solutions require strong families, a robust civil society, and engaging and loving fathers. Those characteristics won’t just prevent mass shootings but improve all of society exponentially. Are we willing to commit to the hard work or will we continue with the political shouting that not only solves nothing but further drowns out the value of the human person?
Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.