Why would an 18-year-old, with a full life ahead of him, feel so broken and jaded by the world that he feels his only option is to pick up a gun and kill people? This is a question few Democrats, including President Joe Biden, will ask.
After all, issuing statements denouncing “weapons of war” (which has nothing to do with anything) and calling for yet more “gun control,” are far easier than seriously probing why so many young men are turning to internet-fueled hate mongers as a way to fill the emptiness in their lives.
Still the Left stubbornly clings to the notion that gun-control and other federal legislative efforts will solve the deep-rooted cultural problems giving rise to the rash of mass shootings in recent years. Their willful blindness will force all of us to likely endure repeats of last Saturday’s tragic event at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
It is not as if there are no clues in plain sight to help us unravel the factors predicating many of these mass murders.
One common theme, for example, at least as among recent mass shootings, including that in Buffalo, and in Charleston (2015), San Diego (2019), and Christchurch (2019), is that the killers were denizens of the dark corners of the online world. This begs the question, “why?” Why does the hateful violence in online commentary fill a void left empty by social institutions that in years past provided moral anchors to young people?
Probing a bit deeper reveals more clues.
In today’s risk-averse culture, children and their parents are warned, in some cases actually punished, for allowing their children to engage in unsupervised outdoor play. Fretting, often to the point of paranoia, about “pedophiles” and “sex trafficking” has reached the point where even stopping to watch children at play has come to be viewed with suspicion.
In public schools, children are cautioned constantly to be careful, fearful, and suspicious of everything and everyone (even to the point of facing discipline for using a “wrong” pronoun about a fellow student). Gone are the days when public education was considered part of a comprehensive and positive socialization process directed toward a productive and hope-filled future. Constant “active shooter” drills reinforce those fears.
Many public schools fill white students’ minds with debilitating self-loathing because they are “inherently racists.”
“Climate change” teaches them they likely will grow to adulthood in a doomed world.
Being taught concepts of “gender fluidity” and “not knowing who you are” can render this fear-filled world virtually unintelligible to youngsters.
Then we are surprised when some turn to the internet and lash out in violence.
Outside of the classroom, there are few if any group activities that teach and reinforce communal social skills. Religious attendance is on the decline and continues to wither under constant attack from the Left. Boy Scouts and other traditional social groups are similarly attacked by liberals as “toxic.”
Youth sports increasingly are being ruined by parents, whose lack of self-control leads them to abuse coaches and officials verbally and physically; behavior that does not go unnoticed by the kids.
Home life as well feeds this increasingly unpleasant world in which young minds and bodies grow. The environment in many homes mirrors a political environment reflective of what goes on in the very halls of the U.S. Congress, where each side’s views and advocates are seen as completely destructive of the others. Civil and substantive discourse has been supplanted by name-calling and vulgarity.
In myriad ways, we have created a culture that celebrates doom, obsesses over literal and figurative “death,” and reinforces social isolation because it is “safer.” Yet, we throw our hands up in despair when a vulnerable young person, already predisposed by the world around him to violence, no longer values the lives of others, or his own.
Mass shootings have become a mirror to a deeply broken society, and no amount of blaming “guns” or “hate speech” can repair the fissures. Nonetheless, for Democrats repeatedly doing just that, spares them from accepting any complicity for the damage caused by their legal, political, and personal efforts to weaken the institutions that once helped shape children and young adults into happy, compassionate, and functional members of society.
The Left’s continued refusal to see anything of themselves and the policies they champion in that dark mirror, all but guarantees future tragedies.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.