That one thing you think is the problem? It's not the problem.

Something that frustrates me about the post-shooting dialogue – or lack thereof – is the tendency that people have to resort to finger-pointing and platitudes.

I'm a pretty liberal guy, and yeah, I think we need stricter gun laws. I really don't see why any civilian needs to own a military-style assault rifle. Home protection? Against what, the zombie invasion? But if I'm not mistaken, the Virginia Tech shooting was carried out with a hangun. Stricter gun laws aren't a panacea that's going to make the problem go away.

And I'm sure that any rational person, either religious or not, rolls their eyes at the wing-nuts saying that it's because we "took God out of schools" (which we didn't... and I thought God was supposed to be omnipresent anyway...), or because we aren't teaching children to gang-rush shooters (seriously, people are saying that), or because we aren't giving deadly weapons to teachers.

For my part, I've been focused on the mental health issue. We need to be better, as a community, of recognizing the symptoms before something terrible happens. Young people need to be taught how to recognize the signs among their peers, and to report them promptly. In fact, just such foresight resulted in an arrest in Bartlesville, OK, a suburb close to me, when a student tried to recruit others for a mass killing. Awareness works. Further, we need to improve access to mental health care, which goes along with improving our national health care system. (Sean Carroll had some good thoughts on the matter here.)

But the reality is, aside from the predictable idiocy from the wing-nuts, this situation resulted from a perfect storm of factors, and its solution isn't going to be a one-stop affair. It's not video games, it's not feminists, it's not God's judgment, it's not secularism, it's not because we don't have enough guns,  or anything like that. It's parenting, it's community involvement, it's placing sensible restrictions on access to firearms, it's better health care and better access to it, it's education of teachers (having a plan of action in case of a threat), etc. It's a tough problem with a tough solution.

And the reality is that this kind of thing will not go away. These kinds of tragedies will happen from time to time. A comprehensive effort to identify the problems and find solutions is what is needed to reduce them.


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