One of the dear children who died was named Josephine, the same name as my own daughter. How can I keep my children safe from such evil, which can strike at any time, anywhere.
Is the problem that a twisted young man got access to several guns?
Is the problem that he didn’t get the mental health services he needed?
Is the problem that there’s a crisis of manhood in our country?
Is the problem ultimately that sin and evil are realities in our world?
It’s not just one failure point, or one cause. Many failures contributed to this horrible act. And here follows some thoughts, humbly shared from someone who does not claim to know what the answer is to such horrors.
Regarding guns, it seems the main failure was on the prudence and judgment of the killer’s mother, who allowed him (whether intentionally or not), access to her guns. Even if we banned the rifle he used, the two handguns would have been deadly enough against defenseless innocents. And we would not only need to ban disturbed people like him from buying guns (assuming that gun sellers would even be able to know that he was disturbed), but also ban them from close relatives and housemates who might buy them.
So while I don’t doubt that, riding the momentum of public sentiment that “Something Must be Done,” Obama and Co. will pass some kind of law. And that law will have very little effect, if any, on such crimes.
Instead, we have to realize that demented people, people who have given themselves wholly to evil, are going to get access to weapons and try to kill people. We cannot defend everyone at every moment from such attacks, but we can start with places like schools, where our most cherished children spend much of their time each week.
“But you’re batty if you want to arm all the teachers!” And gun-rights people will point to Israeli schools and teachers; and anti-gun people will make counter arguments to that. I don’t think arming every teacher or even most of them is feasible. But what about arming a few of them?
If a teacher or administrator, of known upright character and wisdom, volunteers to be an armed teacher, let them carry a concealed weapon. They will endeavor to go through rigorous and continuing training and practice to do so, above and beyond what other people have to do.
Perhaps in most schools, you will have one to five teachers who would carry. This has two benefits: evil people will have no idea whether a school has teachers that are armed or, if so, who those teachers are. This would act as a deterrent. And also, most obviously, if an evil man did start attacking people at a school, these teachers would have a more level playing field.
“But, teachers aren’t trained in returning fire while being shot at like soldiers are! And the shooters often have bulletproof vests and such!” Maybe so, but keep in mind that these evil men are also not soldiers. In fact, they have little to no training, and often either give themselves up immediately when confronted by authorities or take their own lives at the first sign of emergency responders. In other words, they are curious kind of coward, evidenced by the fact that they also go for the weakest, most defenseless people.
And the goal would not necessarily be to go dueling with a shooter, but simply to distract him, to possibly injure him, to slow him down, to block his evil. While he may get shot and killed, even buying a few minutes for police to arrive and confront him would save many lives.
So we 1) admit the reality that, despite whatever gun laws we may pass, evil men will find a way to get at least some kind of guns, and 2) see how we can mitigate the evil they intend to perpetrate.
Mental health care? Sure, we need more of it and better. But as someone who has suffered from mental health problems in the past, “mental health” care is not a panacea. It’s a nebulous field, with varying degrees of quality in its practitioners (and medicines). Read some of the warnings on any psychotropic drug, and prepare to be disturbed. The side-effects are often almost as bad as the symptoms they try to cure. In many cases doctors only have guesses as to how they actually work.
And many people with these problems refuse treatment, or resist it, or try to thwart it. You can’t force someone to want to get help.
Manhood? Yes this is a great failing of our entire culture. We have a fatherhood crisis, a masculinity crisis, a virtue crisis, a faith crisis.
I noticed from the news that the killer’s fathers was well-off. Yet money did not buy prevention from the complete and total disaster that was this son’s life. Most fathers don’t become that successful from spending lots of time at home, but by working long hours. I grant you that this is a pure conjecture on my part, and if it is off-base then I apologize in advance, but the men I know who make this kind of money are men devoted primarily to their work. They don’t put in 40 hour weeks and achieve such success. In our country, we reward that sort of fatherly fiduciary “success” as “reaching the American Dream,” but the consequences on our children are seen everywhere.
No easy solutions exist to this crisis of masculinity.
Ultimately the problem is sin. And no amount of mental health care or gun control or work on fatherhood will eliminate that problem. Only Jesus Christ can, and only fully will we see sin’s demise when He returns in glory. So we do not put our trust in human measures for reining in evil, even though it is good to do whatever we can to limit its deleterious effects. Instead we long for the shores of Tolkien’s Valinor, of the Undying Lands.
We prayed and prayed for the families of the children whose lives were so brutally cut short by this evil man. We trust that our merciful Lord has embraced all of them and that one day, they will see their families again. This is the hope that Christ our Hope gives us.