Except, our political system has acted to curb gun violence. Violent crime, gun violence and school violence have all dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, even as the number (and lethality) of guns in America has risen dramatically. It's not even obvious that mass killings are on the rise.
It seems that Dionne, and countless others, want to use fear, evasion and opportunism in the wake of this tragedy to win an argument they couldn't win when passion was in check.
Still, these sorts of sprees by the mentally ill have become all too frequent in recent years (though none, despite what you may have heard, involved "automatic weapons," which are very hard to own and incredibly rare in gun crime cases).
A breakdown in our culture generally, and our mental health system in particular, seems to be making this kind of nihilistic mayhem possible and attractive to sick young men. This is a point the media should keep in mind as they provide precisely the kind of saturation coverage such men find seductive.
But while guns are easy to scapegoat as talismans of evil, and the media are always worthy of criticism, the mentally ill are different. Many of the "warning signs" for the Newtown killer could be leveled at literally millions of young men. Who among us doesn't know someone who was a smart loner with poor social skills in high school or college?
I think we need better mental health screening and treatment for potential murderers. I am also completely open to gun laws -- limiting the sale of large clips perhaps -- that would reduce this kind of slaughter. I don't know how to implement such ideas in ways that would actually work. Indeed, all I'm sure of is that we should be very careful about making big decisions when we are so angry and mourning so deeply.
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