On Monday, August 1, 1966, 25-year-old Charles Whitman, a typical All-American young man by most accounts, climbed the final steps of the University of Texas tower to an observation deck, a rented hand-truck in tow as he hauled a footlocker with numerous weapons. Few—if anyone—could have predicted Whitman would usher in the era of the modern-day mass shooter.
It would seem that America as a society hasn’t learned a thing since 1966. For Whitman, all the signs were there, flashing as if in bright neon. But, even today, after all we have learned about the men behind these murderous rampages, it’s doubtful we would recognize the warning signs.
Whitman was despondent over his parents’ divorce, which led to a move from Florida to Texas. His father allegedly abused him physically and verbally, and the Austin Police twice were called to Whitman’s apartment because he physically assaulted his wife. The young man was known to have fits of rage.
Whitman even went to the university psychologist on the recommendation of a doctor, as he complained of severe headaches and unexplained anger. Four months before his rampage, Whitman even confessed to the psychologist he was afraid of his outbursts and his fantasy of shooting people from the university tower.
Unable to control his rage and violent fantasies, he first killed his young wife to keep her from the embarrassment of what he was about to do. He then shot his mother and stabbed her in the chest so she, too, would not have to endure the heartache of the heinous act he was about to commit. In his autopsy, Whitman was found to have a brain tumor. Did the tumor contribute to his violence? It has never been determined.
Whitman would later become the poster child for the proposed “Red Flag” laws we see gaining traction from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Should Whitman or someone like him—predisposed to domestic abuse, who sought mental-health services and even disclosed his violent fantasy—be prevented from purchasing or owning a firearm?
Although preventive measures like confiscating his firearms or denying his purchase ability sounds reasonable on its face, this proposed solution has a major roadblock: The United States Constitution.
The government pre-determining someone’s proclivity to “commit a crime” removes the basic framework of American jurisprudence, which is “presumed innocence until proven guilty.” For the government bureaucracy to determine what is in a person’s heart, or what one might do at any given time, is Orwellian at its worst.
As horrific as mass shootings are, the moment we start removing a natural right as defined in our Bill of Rights is indeed a very slippery slope. While the Socialist Democrats used the El Paso shooting to vilify Trump (as if the El Paso shooter was given direct marching orders from Trump himself), there was conveniently no mention of the Dayton shooter, who so happened to be an avid socialist and Elizabeth Warren supporter.
And since “race” now dominates every news cycle, of course socialists are adamant we need gun control, even gun confiscation, to stem the alleged tide of Trump-induced white nationalism.
Since the early 1900s, liberals from both parties have incrementally worked to destroy original American culture, morals and values, ramping this destruction in the 1960s and continuing with the latest onslaught from the Socialist Democrats.
Denying our Founders intended America to be a Christian nation and revising social-studies education to invent the separation of church and state? Check. Vilifying religion (of any kind) and the moral compass that most, if not all religions, provide? Check. Indoctrinating youth and college students in extremist, progressive ideologies? Check. Cheapening the value of human life through the unabated killing of the unborn? Check. Instilling the warped cultural values of Hollywood, music, video games and television, including the glorification of violence? Check. Growing the welfare state and multi-generational dependency on government? Check.Unlimited access to pornography? Check. Driving a wedge in marriages with radical feminist policies, resulting in a high divorce rate and fatherless families? Check. Attacking the rugged individualism and personal accountability that built America and the demonization of men as husbands, providers and fathers? Check. Attacking free enterprise and capitalism, therefore subjugating people to keep a job they likely detest and destroying the American dream? Check.
It would not be a stretch nowadays to claim the average teenager cannot recite the Ten Commandments. Since a common denominator seems to be these shooters are at various stages of being social outcasts, where is their moral grounding, support system and guidance to make it through their formative years? Simply put, where are their families and why didn’t they recognize the signs that they needed help?
America has always had guns—and lots of them. It’s no coincidence that Whitman ushered in the era of mass shootings in the ‘60s, the period of the “Great Society.”
The suggestion that government ought to cast a wide net and proactively deny—or even confiscate—firearms from those a bureaucracy deems a future threat is treating the symptoms instead of treating the underlying problem.
As it stands, 17 states have some form of “Red Flag” laws, yet none have published statistics on how many mass shootings these laws may have prevented. In most cases, the “suspect” was brought to law enforcement’s attention through family or teachers and were more a threat to themselves than to others.
If we are forced to live with “Red Flag” laws, they should be enacted by state legislatures and not an overreaching federal behemoth. It’s doubtful, however, such laws could survive a constitutional challenge. They should also come with stringent due process wherein a suspect is not automatically judged or prevented from restoring his or her constitutional rights because someone can’t afford an attorney.
Will America suddenly find its moral compass and return to a time when the majority of Americans turn out to church every Sunday? It’s doubtful and, even so, it would take years for America to undo decades of liberal moral decadence.
David Thomas Roberts resides in Houston, Texas, and is the author of “The Death of Liberty: The Socialist Destruction of America’s Freedoms Using the Income Tax,” and the CEO of Teligistics, a telecom financial management company.