How to stop shootings without politics

Posted by tobymuresianu on Dec 15, 2012 in Politics, Thoughts |

In the wake of the shooting yesterday, there have been arguments for gun control, and against gun control.

I’ll assume you’re familiar with both arguments and won’t repeat them.

But if our goal is to help prevent loss of life in the future, let’s not assume the only path to safety is to lobby our politicians to a) ban guns or b) have them distributed free with happy meals (depending on your political beliefs). Our politicians are terrible at enacting any legislation, let alone something as difficult or inundated with lobbyists as gun control.

There are two things we can do right now.

First, at the school level, let’s train teachers how to respond and have a security guard (or two) in our schools.

It’s crazy to think that unrestricted access to arms will turn citizens into Dirty Harry instantly when the time comes with no ill effects. Yet it’s also crazy to think the danger will disappear in the near term if we restrict gun sales or improve mental health care. Fortunately, these aren’t the only options – nobody disputes that armed, professional security personnel can help provide security where we need it. Having an officer in schools accomplishes three things:

– It deters people from attacking to begin with. Shooters don’t pick areas full of defenseless civilians because they want a fight.

– It stops or at least slows down attacks when they do occur.

– It makes people feel safe day to day.

Obviously, cost is an issue. But at smaller schools it’s possible this role could by fulfilled by training a few teachers to fill this role. And in any case, it seems a bit disingenuous to cry that we have to do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t happen, then balk at paying for a single security guard at a school with a few dozen teachers and a few hundred students.

My second idea is one which you can put into action right now, today, without relying on anyone and no matter what your political beliefs.

If you haven’t already, watch this video:

Or read this post from Morgan Freeman.

Here’s the thing – I don’t think that news organizations are not trying to be evil. They just broadcast things because we watch them. How can we blame them for what they show when we’re the ones making it profitable?

Something one gun-rights advocate said stuck with me. He said they had all the same guns in the 70s, but they never had mass shootings, so it was a cultural problem. While I don’t think that reduces the need for gun control, I do agree that the increase in mass shootings has something to do with our culture of escalation and prizing fame as the ultimate measure of success. Unfortunately, nobody can change our culture – not the government, not any one person. In cliched terms, it can only be changed by you.

When an event like this happens, don’t read salacious news articles or watch excessive news coverage. Don’t reward reporters that interview 3rd graders or bother families. Now, it’s a fine line between being informed and being voyeuristic. But look within yourself, and if you don’t need to read an extra dozen articles or watch an episode of 20/20 about the shooter’s life, don’t. Let’s make watching news that sensationalizes shooters a faux paux, as we should for “journalism” that explores the lurid details of child molestation, rape, and murder. The lower the viewership of these programs, the fewer will air, and we will in some small way reduce the incentives for sick individuals to seek out this notoriety.

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