The mass shootings that have occurred in recent years are absolutely atrocious, regardless of whether they were committed as an act of terrorism (perpetrated by those both foreign and domestic) or as the public manifestation of deeply deranged individuals’ failure to fit into a civilized society. EVERYONE hurts when one of these atrocities occurs. EVERYONE processes his or her grief and frustration differently. EVERYONE questions how these acts happen. And EVERYONE seeks to assign blame. There is no doubt that some see tragedy as a way to further political agenda, but most just want to grieve and hope/pray that it never happens again.
Many people want to simplify this crisis by assigning blame to inanimate objects. I actually understand why they do this: it is an easy target. A firearm is a tangible symbol of evil in their eyes. It is something they can see and touch (not that they would choose to do so), thus it becomes their focus. They feel that ridding society of these “weapons of war” will make us all safer. However, they are assigning a simple “solution” to an incredibly complex equation. The problem is evil men will find a way to perpetrate evil, regardless of the tool they choose to employ, be it a knife, a vehicle, fertilizer and diesel fuel…or a box cutter. All of these items listed, including firearms, are neither good nor bad. It is how they are used by the people that choose to employ them that causes them to be anthropomorphized (if you are unfamiliar with this term, please look it up) by misinformed, if well-meaning, people. Real change is hard. Guns are seen as the low hanging fruit through which they can make an immediate impact. School shootings are an emotional issue that deserves something other than an emotional response.
Here is the problem with blaming firearms for all of society’s ills (although for the purpose of this discussion, I will stick to school shootings): the facts just don’t support it. Mass shootings, and in particular school shootings, simply didn’t occur with any regularity in our country for the longest time. If one did happen, it was a shocking and inexcusable anomaly. If you are of the mindset to blame the firearm or “assault rifle” (or the ability of individuals to possess such a firearm), the timeline just doesn’t prove out. Semi-automatic rifles have been around for over 100 years; high powered ammunition for even longer. “High-capacity” magazines for firearms have been around for over 100 years and what gun banners would call an “assault weapon,” well, those have been around for the same length of time. But let’s focus on everybody’s favorite whipping boy, the AR-15. It is true that this seems to be the tool of choice for our current generation of psychopaths. What you should bear in mind is that this rifle was developed in 1959, and has been available to the public since the early 1960s (there is even a photo