“I have no delusion that making assault rifles illegal or intensifying background checks for gun purchases will stop all gun violence. I have no expectation that terrorists and criminals will surrender their weapons or that the insane will not pull their triggers. However, I do believe that if Americans stop making believe that guns are somehow the answer, then those who might be suffering from the frustrations, rage, and mental illnesses that might lead to violence will be less prone to thinking that violence is an acceptable answer to their pain. As long as our culture glorifies violence, it will be the refuge of those who have no place to hide.” –Delinda McCann
Some days we just have to ask ourselves, “What the Hell?” Yesterday I needed to ask myself that question when I learned of yet another mass shooting and looked at the number of shootings this year. I looked at the number of civilian shootings. We probably should add the police shootings to the civilian violence if we want an accurate picture of the senseless violence happening in our country.
Those of us who have some experience in dealing with violence probably should start speaking up. I’m old. I’m tired and I don’t want to drive 45 miles to start walking the halls of our legislative buildings. I’ve done that. I’ve made changes in our government policy. I guess I can do it again. Wish someone else would start the dialog that needs to happen.
The dialog about mass shootings needs to happen in every community. We need local government sponsored task forces to focus on gun violence. These task forces need to bring together representatives from the legal system, mental health systems, disability systems, educational systems, and those citizens who work with at-risk populations. At some point, when talking points are being identified, these meetings need to be open to the public for input.
I am not necessarily talking about gun control here. I know one of the current major talking points is regulation of guns, which may be part of the solution. I am more concerned with the social structure around gun violence. We can perhaps make some progress through gun regulation. This seems the common sense approach, but we would still leave the support structure for mass murder in place. My preference is to go for the underlying issues that allow and promote senseless violence.
I am talking about how communities can address the topic of prevention. Where do the perpetrators come from? Where have the perpetrators come into contact with community systems? Where have our systems failed that these angry people are running loose in society without appropriate support systems around them? Can we identify the intervention touchpoints for violent mass offenders? We already know that they all have at least one characteristic in common. Mass murderers do not have the cognitive filters that prevent the vast majority of the population from committing acts of violence.
We also know why some people do not have the filters necessary to prevent them from carrying out horrific acts of violence. Prenatal exposure to various toxins can damage the brain in such a way that the brain cannot communicate within itself to built the filters that stop murderous rage attacks. We also know that broken bonding can prevent the filters from forming. Broken bonding can occur when a child is placed out of home, but it can also occur with a child who has undiagnosed allergies or multiple ear infections among other childhood situations.
The private sector very much needs to be involved in the dialog on gun violence. What can the business sector do to make their communities more safe? Can they sponsor work programs to give disengaged youth a place where they belong? Do they need to change policies for employees so they can be with their children as infants or when they are sick?
Churches are very much at the center of the issue and need to start working on how their policies promote, enable or prevent gun violence. Churches can sponsor programs for children and youth to give youth another place to belong and succeed. They need to examine their teaching to assure that they are not promoting hate and violence.
The entertainment industry needs to take a look at their ethical responsibility around the idea that violence is the solution to every problem. Does exposure to violent video games really promote violence as some suggest or is the root of the problem exposure to a chemical?
At this point, we really don’t know why mass shooters and trigger-happy cops do not have the cognitive filters necessary to prevent violent acting out. We talk about stress and mental health issues. How do these play into the whole picture of what has become domestic terrorism?
We will need to address the issue of government agencies and businesses that do not want to find the solutions that will prevent mass violence. We need to face the fact that some people profit from mass shootings, and they will shove people into walls and step on small women to keep their profits. However, we shouldn’t let the lowest levels of humanity prevent us from building the type of communities where we can go about our business in relative safety.
I can make some guesses about what we will find when we start defining and exploring the problem. The actual perpetrators are probably only the foam on a whole lake of slimy scum. We will find manipulators and enablers. We will find big money intent on perpetrating the problem. We will find deniers. We will find evil, lots and lots of just plain evil perpetuated by a sub-human species intent only on their own profits and prestige.
The good news is that there are more of us than there are evil people profiting off of mass shootings. There are more of us than there are people without the brain connections to filter out violent behavior. There are more of us than there are indolent government officials. There are move of us, and we have made a difference in the past. We have taken lead out of paint. We have gotten labels on cigarette packages. We got DDT banned. We have cleaned up our air. We have raised awareness about drinking when pregnant. We can and will stop random mass shootings.
Please come back later this week for the second half of this article that outlines an action plan anybody can follow to move us toward a healthier society.
Delinda McCann is a social scientist with over forty years experience in working with at-risk populations. She started with a program for migrant workers children, moved on to working with at-risk teens in a street program and finished working in the field of developmental disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She has worked on committees for the State of Washington and been an advisor to several foreign governments. She currently writes novels that touch on social topics including politics and social justice. Web site: http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html