I think it was the 1992 presidential election campaign where the lovable James Carville famously coined the phase, “It’s the economy, stupid” in explaining Clinton’s campaign strategy in trying to unseat George H.W. Bush from serving a second term. This morning I was reading all the theories about how we might end or at least slow down the massacres by disaffected young men, as in Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Boston, Charleston and now Chattanooga. Why is it that so many young men become radicalized, often through the Internet, and are driven to commit such horrific acts? What can we do to stop the “lone terrorist” not on anyone’s watch list?
Here’s my take this morning. There’s virtually nothing we can do to stop young men from becoming disaffected. Some portion of this age and gender group will experience depression and/or a general sense of despair and anger in their lives. It’s just going to happen. In today’s highly charged and divided world, that depression and anger is likely to reveal itself over religious or racial difference. And there are lots of people around who are inclined to take advantage of these troubled young men and lead them to act out in massively destructive way. While enhanced mental health services would be a start, I just don’t see us making much of a dent there. On the other hand, doing something to break the combination of angry young men and insanely easy access to weapons of mass destruction just seems too obvious to me. The Chattanooga shooter returns from a recent trip to the Middle East and goes on a private sale, on-line gun site and with the touch of a finger, orders and obtains the all too familiar AK weapon used to kill five brave soldiers. We can go on all day (and our 24 hour news idiots certainly do) about how to identify these murderers before it’s too late, but it will always be too late. On the other hand, we might try to do something to at least slow down the access these boys have to killing machines. What a novel idea. It’s the guns, stupid. And boy are we stupid.
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