Jonah Goldberg

In other words: So what? I don't mean to trivialize these heinous tragedies, but what, exactly, do people propose? Should we police film, politics, novels, video games and every other type of communication and discourse for words and ideas that might set off a statistically microscopic minority of crazy people? What would that effort look like? How many censors would it require? How many hundreds of millions of people would be inconvenienced? Could free speech and artistic expression possibly survive?

Oh, and would it actually, you know, work?

I am not an absolutist on such things. After all, I'm not naming these killers precisely because I think the culture matters, including the news culture. But I am more concerned about the effects of culture on sane people. Regardless, it seems to me like a kind of insanity to think we can hold the entire society hostage to the reactions of insane people.

Why not instead focus on the source of the problem: the very small minority of mentally ill people who pose a danger to themselves and others. And, yes, guns need to be part of that equation. But blanket efforts to ban guns seem like an analogous effort to ban dangerous speech or art. About a third of U.S. households own a gun, according to surveys, but the number may be higher than that. Getting rid of guns will infringe on the rights of tens of millions of sane, law-abiding citizens in order to tackle a problem posed by dozens of people. And, like it or not, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that we have a constitutional right to own a firearm, subject to reasonable regulation.

One reasonable regulation: doing what we reasonably can to keep guns out of the hands of people who might find Seth Rogen's sexploits, or video games, or Batman movies a good excuse to murder innocent people in cold blood. There would still be murderers, of course. But at least the focus would be where it belongs.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.