Thomas Sowell

The kinds of mass urban riots that occurred all across the country during Lyndon Johnson's administration became virtually unknown during the eight years of the Reagan administration, which projected a completely different vision of the world.

But, then as now, facts often came in a poor second to heady visions and sweeping rhetoric.

If other people are somehow responsible for whatever is lacking in your life, lashing out at random against individuals who have done nothing to you personally can sound plausible to many people.

Whether or not the latest mass killings at Virginia Tech were a result of medically verifiable insanity, there have always been insane people but there have not always been mass killings with the frequency we have seen since 1960.

Nor is gun control the magic answer, as often suggested by the same kind of people who believe in collective responsibility instead of individual responsibility.

Since murder is illegal everywhere, why would someone who is unwilling to obey the law against murder be willing to obey a law against getting a gun -- which is easy to get illegally?

One of the many hard facts that get overlooked by those impressed by visions and rhetoric is that mass shootings almost invariably occur in gun-free zones like schools, workplaces, or houses of worship.

When has a mass killer opened fire on a meeting of the National Rifle Association or fired on a group of hunters?

Instead of banning guns, maybe we should rethink 1960s dogmas.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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