How many mass shootings does it take for Americans to do something, anything?
What will it take for America to shake this paralysis by intertwingulitis ?
As I sit here watching CNN and a panel discussion on gun violence, I'm thinking that everything about the issue is oh-so-deeply intertwingled.
And the politics of it all, although fascinating, frustrates the daylights out of me. Because of the politics, nothing is getting done to make these heart-breaking mass-shooting tragedies a rare phenomena, instead of them being simply a cost of being American.
Democrats on the one side try to keep things simple, ignoring intertwingularity (i.e. the mess of intertwingled issues related to gun violence) by, seemingly, singularly focusing on gun legislation.
Republicans on the other side, wanting to avoid anything having to do with gun legislation, also try to keep things simple (i.e. ignore intertwingularity) by, seemingly, singularly focusing on mental health.
Failure. Same old song and dance. Nothing gets done, and everybody eventually moves on to other currently burning issues. Then another tragedy happens. More good people die.
Whenever an issue (or a problem, or a project, anything) involves an overwhelming amount of intertwingled things to consider, I have a simple philosophy:
Get, as quick as possible, a picture (mind map, a simple list, whatever) of all the things to consider, and order them by level of difficulty/cost to tackle each one, easiest/cheapest to hardest/costliest.
(I suppose this is a bit of a "Getting Things Done®" philosophy.)Well, considering all things mental health, and all things gun legislation, what (if anything) is easy/cheap to do ?
The mistake of making "mental health" the priority
To me, tackling mental health to reduce gun violence seems like the most difficult nut to crack with little benefit.
Do Americans suffer from mental health issues, in a per capita ratio, more so than any other "like" country (say, countries in the G7) ? (Related: Do Americans play violent video games more so than citizens in other countries, thus making Americans more likely to kill each other?)
If Americans killing fellow citizens is first and foremost because of a mental health crisis, then we all have to wonder: what the hell is wrong with America? Why would Americans suffer from mental health more so than citizens in other countries?
That doesn't make much sense to me. I don't see myself and fellow Canadians as being so different from Americans that we would have wildly different problems with mental health. Otherwise, Americans are inordinately really screwed-up people. I don't believe that for a second.
If Americans suffer from much more mass killings because they, per capita, are suffering from mental health issues more so than other "like" countries, then America has a built-in societal problem related to the very fabric, the very birth of the United States of America. That doesn't sound like an easy/cheap problem to fix. (America being the greatest economic and military power in the world, we should all be nervous ...)
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Pipe dream?
Tackle the easy things first: the American 2nd amendment?
Ratified in 1791, in the days of muskets, the amendment:
- protects the individual right to keep and bear arms
- protects the right to a well-regulated militia that can repel the danger of a federal army
Changing the 2nd amendment seems like something much too difficult and expensive to tackle.
Surely, can America not easily to make illegal, for example, ownership of high-capacity magazines by civilians? After all, seems to me that American civilians can't own M1 Abrams tank, or a rocket launcher, or an F-35. So why can't that be easy to do? What intertwingled thing is preventing that ?
Message to America: define "arm" in "the right to bare arms." Arm does need to mean "musket", but maybe it should not mean "semi-automated weapon with 100-round magazine.")
Ugh. Maybe all wishful and naive thinking.
Can America ever find a solution while "ability to repel the danger of a federal army" remains in the constitution and remains ingrained in the American psyche?
The problem of mass shootings in America is a deeply intertwingled problem, and I pray our good neighbours to the south figure it out.