Domestic Policy

Rights come with Responsibilities

The string of horrifying mass shootings in Uvalde Texas, and elsewhere shines a uncomfortable light on our domestic policy failures in America.   Propagandists of the left and right will blame the availability of guns, inadequate school security, social media or other convenient bogeymen.. They all will be right, but for the wrong reasons. Their shallow  debate ignores even more intractable socioeconomic causes.

Theodore Roosevelt was a gun enthusiast and avid hunter. However, he also believed that every right comes with corresponding responsibilities . People should learn how shoot to build a disciplined character.  Those without such character should not be allowed to own firearms. To the extent we can identify those individuals before they acquire a gun, I believe TR would have favored it and other controls to insure guns were used responsibly. Thus, background checks probably would not have bothered him as well as other limits on ownership.

However, there was more going on here than the use of a gun for an evil purpose.  The school shooter in Uvalde had suffered from bullying at school due to a speech impediment as well as other apparent nonconformities (see article). He also apparently came from a difficult family life. Many mass shooters come from equally traumatic backgrounds, as this article points out. Thus, when we talk about school safety, it is past time to also talk about protecting vulnerable adolescents in large impersonal school environments. . It is also past time to ensure that they have access to the mental health resources and family support they need.

The COVID pandemic has strained the fabric of our families and the entire nation. Heinous acts like shootings are the results of a downward cycle of despair and anger.  If we truly wish to reduce their incidence and preserve our basic rights, it will require meeting our responsibilities by accepting limitations on our own freedom and the expenditure of money and social policies necessary to combat the underlying causes of such despair and anger.

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