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Let’s Punish Mass Shooters, 1776-Style

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

The latest round of tragic mass-shootings by scumbags-who-will-not-be-named-here – two of them in two days – predictably brings the latest calls to “do something.” Liberals, as usual, politicize such tragedies to call for America to “do something” about guns. Conservatives want to “do something” about violent video games, target hardening, and prayer in schools. And in potential hate-crime cases like the El Paso shooting (in this instance, the shooter’s alleged manifesto included anti-immigrant rhetoric that liberals like Judd Legum insist came “directly from Trump’s Twitter feed”) both sides want to “do something” about white supremacy.


After watching the heartbreaking coverage from El Paso Saturday evening, I certainly understand the sentiment. If only there were a panacea, a magic wand we could wave that would end this sort of thing for good. But sadly, until Jesus comes or the planet explodes, evil will always be with us and will continue to manifest itself in ways that make our hearts break.

But while we’re here, what “something” should we do? Do we listen to the libs and enact draconian gun control laws? Sure, we could tweak some things to try and keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people, but in general trying to take guns from the law-abiding will only serve to make criminals out of millions while doing nothing to keep guns away from actual criminals. Even if we somehow managed to do away with all those “scary” assault-style rifles – none of which are actual assault rifles – evil people would still do evil things with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. And after a few mass shootings with those, it wouldn’t be long before Eric Swalwell and his ilk would be calling to ban all guns, because “common sense gun control” is always a moving goalpost. Succeed in doing that, and evil people will commit heinous acts with knives ... You get the drift. Eventually, when the law-abiding population is entirely defenseless, people will still die, only more of them and one by one as the now-defenseless law abiding are preyed upon by evil people.


Conservatives have the “best” solutions, but those aren’t perfect either. Target hardening is an obvious answer for schools that everyone should get behind, but would it work for every public place? Probably not. A person bent on mayhem can always find the path of least resistance. For many, if not most, shooters those “paths of least resistance” are so-called “gun free zones,” so obviously they should be eliminated. Having an armed, carrying percentage of the populace certainly helps. The Ohio shooter managed to kill nine in a place where police were close and took him down fast, but imagine how much worse that could have been. The Sutherland Springs church shooter was shot by an armed citizen before he could escape to commit more mayhem, and that’s far from the only example. 

Gaming companies should definitely look at voluntarily toning down some of their products, but plenty of people play video games and 99.999 percent of those don’t kill anyone because of it. More prayer and religion in general certainly can’t hurt, especially given that we were a more religious country decades ago and there weren’t nearly as many mass shootings.

Then, there’s the whole “white supremacist” thing, brought up a lot lately on Twitter because of the El Paso shooter’s manifesto. However, what exactly do liberals think we should “do” about “white supremacy” that doesn’t involve massively infringing on fundamental rights and creating draconian Europe-like speech and thought codes in this country? And what exactly IS “white supremacy” anyway, given that Antifa thinks it’s anyone to the right of Che Guevara and most of the left actually thinks President Trump adheres to the notion? I have my own definition, but others have theirs, and the labels are always changing and being pinned on people for obvious political reasons. Sure, all sides should do what they can do tone down the crazies on the fringe, but we should do it with logic and more speech, not less. Deplatforming and outlawing speech doesn’t eliminate thoughts, but rather allows crazier ones to grow and fester in secret when they aren’t expressed or countered by reasonable people.


Regarding the El Paso shooter in particular – as someone who has written extensively about mass immigration from the Third World being a negative thing on the whole for a lot of logical reasons but who also hasn’t had the slightest inclination to murder anyone or even to look crossly at a fellow human being who happens to be Hispanic, the fact that this piece of human filth managed – if that was indeed his manifesto – to string together a few barely coherent thoughts about immigration being bad angers me to my core. Not only did he take innocent lives, but he also damaged any cause he purported to champion.

Yet, should we blame Trump or anti-immigration folks for this loser’s actions? Only a fool would say yes. After all, James Hodgkinson, the Congressional baseball game shooter, was a Bernie Sanders supporter who said Donald Trump "destroyed democracy." Are anti-Trump Bernie supporters at fault for that one? The Dayton, Ohio gunman who killed nine on Sunday allegedly was a left-wing Antifa supporter, but as bad as Antifa is, should we blame them for his actions? 

Yes, “white supremacy” is bad and should be countered, but anyone who thinks it’s (whatever “it” is) the root cause of such shootings should remember that, by their definition, virtually the entire country was “white supremacist” 60 years ago, yet rarely saw shootings like this. In the end, ideology – whatever it may be – is just an excuse for demented, evil people to do demented, evil things.


At any rate, if those aren’t the solution, then what is? There’s no panacea, but here’s something we COULD do that’s not mentioned enough. How about good old-fashioned deterrence? We could make the punishment for domestic terrorism so draconian, so dreaded, so severe that even those intending to go out in a blaze of glory would question whether or not to risk it because of the hell they’ll catch if they are caught alive. 

Treat all mass shooters, regardless of the reason, as domestic terrorists. Then, treat all domestic terrorists like ISIS terrorists, revoke their citizenship, and ship their asses to Guantanamo Bay. And when they get there, no book reading or sitting around. From the crack of dawn until dusk, it’s chains and cracking rocks, interrupted only long enough to eat some moldy bread and gulp down some barely drinkable water.

But doesn’t the Constitution forbid “cruel and unusual punishment?” Indeed it does, but what constituted “cruel and unusual” back in 1776? They certainly didn’t have air conditioning, or electricity, or running, much less filtered water. Fine, we won’t beat them with canes, but bread and water and cracking rocks from sunup to sundown seems like something a prisoner in early America would have been subjected to without violating any statutes against the punishment being “cruel” or “unusual.” And besides, it’s Guantanamo and they aren’t citizens anymore anyway, right?


Oh, and stream that stuff on YouTube as a deterrent to anyone who thinks they might want to pull this garbage again. The ad revenue alone would pay the cost of upkeep and also help support the victims’ families. It’s a win-win.

If hell exists, it can’t be hot enough for evil like this. But in the meantime, we can be sure the mass shooters who survive and are caught get to experience hell on earth for every remaining day of their pathetic, miserable lives.

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