Nice To See

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It’s always good to see when someone comes to their senses and drops foolish notions.  In this case it’s Kevin Hampson writing in the Mayerthorpe Freelancer’s opinion pages this past Monday.

Gun control ignores problems behind mass shootings

by Kevin Hampson
QMI Agency

England a century ago was undoubtedly one of the most tranquil societies that ever existed. Yes, I know; the Brits fought wars in the far-flung corners of the earth. But Edwardian society was, internally, remarkably orderly and civil.

It also had virtually no laws against firearms. Some will see this as paradoxical, but it isn’t. The Edwardians were able to own guns and have a peaceful society because they were decent, law-abiding people.

I say this to point out the short-sightedness of today’s gun control advocates. Personally, I’m not fond of guns, and I can understand why people would want to restrict their availability in a time when mass shootings seem to happen every week. But gun control doesn’t address the fundamental problem.

Why is there an increasing amount of rampage killers in contemporary society? The fact that there is indicates that something has gone wrong with our culture.

In case anyone doubts that nihilistic mass-killings are a particular feature of our times, consider the numbers. The FBI keeps track of ‘active shooter events’—when a gunman appears on scene with the intent to kill lots of people. A 2013 study found that the rate at which these events occur in America has increased from about one every other month between 2000 and 2008, to more than one per month between 2009 and 2012.

Journalist David Brooks took a broader view, looking at every “spectacular rampage murder” that occurred since what is believed to be the first one, in Germany in 1913. They occurred at a rate of one or two per decade until the 1980s, when the frequency began to shoot up. In the 1990s, there were at least 11, Brooks said. He counted 26 in the decade before he wrote his article, just after the Batman-movie massacre in Colorado in 2012.

I can think of four that just occurred in May and June, not to mention the two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin who stabbed their friend 19 times to appease a cultish figure on a horror website.

Some people seem content to explain the issue away by observing that such individuals are mentally ill. That might have worked in the days when these things were extremely rare—“Who knows why he did it? He was crazy.”

But when mass killings and other incidents of nihilistic violence are no longer anomalous events, but rather a recurring phenomenon, then we must conclude that they’re a symptom of a deeper societal problem. Pointing out that the people who commit them are crazy only raises the question: What is it about contemporary culture that is making so many people go insane?

The rise in lunatics who commit senseless violence is happening within the context of a broader mental health crisis.

Mental health services on campuses across North America and the UK have reported a surge in students seeking help over the past five years or so. In a Canada-wide survey of university students in 2013, more than one in two students said they’d “felt things were hopeless” within the past 12 months. Nearly 40% had “felt so depressed it was difficult to function;” and 9.5% had seriously considered suicide.

You could argue that stricter gun control is a pragmatic response to the increasing number of mentally unstable people who are potential killers. But that logic points in a dangerous direction, because it assumes a degree of guilt before people have done anything wrong.

It would be far better to think honestly about what’s gone wrong with our society—and admit that the Edwardians just might have something to teach us.

Original web source: Mayerthorpe Freelancer.

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