Tragic shootings and rising violence cannot help but grab the attention and concern of every American. Recent events remind us of that yet again. Two random, but related, observations struck this author.
The last two weeks have seen three incidents of mass shootings, one in California and this past week with a racist shooting in Buffalo, NY and then a shooting at a Chicago McDonald’s that killed two and wounded seven people. Shootings such as these happen far too often and are increasing. As they do, we risk becoming numb to the tragedy of loss that each incident represents.
The rise of killings is evidence of underlying problems with society. There is probably not one solution and the issue devolves from a range of causes. Yet we cannot help but want to do something, to try to find anything that will stop the violence and the de-valuing of life and humanity that each incident represents. These seemingly mindless yet hate-filled killings tug on our emotions.
In the midst of such tragedy, any decent human must pause before trying to make a political point out in the context of deep suffering. Yet, at a time when people instinctively reach for answers, answers that are often borne out of emotion, we must continue to reach for facts and logic to find solutions. While this author does not have all the answers, and the answers surely are complex, years of data make it clear that one thing will NOT solve the problem.
Unfortunately, the three shootings into crowds gives anecdotal evidence to that. The most recent incidents happened in California, New York state and Chicago. Those three places have among the most strict gun laws in the country. More, they have had strict gun control for years and lawmakers in each of those places regularly push for even more restrictions. Yet it did nothing to stop the most recent tragedies. Whatever the answers are, one thing we can know empirically and that is the fact that gun control has very, very little to do with controlling gun violence.
When we hear stories of people using guns, it is almost exclusively when people have used guns to do terrible things. Yet, balanced reporting by the media would report both the good and the bad, like, for example, one incident that happened this week in Flagler County, Florida.
In an apparent incident of road rage, 50-year-old Rafael Vincent Rivera and a motorcyclist got into an argument. Rivera got out of his truck and pulled out a knife. Nearby spectators took video, which they later turned over to police, of Rivera advancing toward the motorist and trying to slash him with the knife. It was at that point that the motorcyclist, who had a concealed carry permit, pulled out his gun and told Rivera to back off and then held him at gunpoint until police arrived.
As the cliché goes, the best way to stop a bad guy with a weapon is with a good guy with a weapon.