Another shooting, 26 people dead. Everyone knows. We are hearing calls for government intervention to create a lasting solution to this uniquely American chronic cultural event. They say the government needs to have specialized experts in “threat assessment” give us a new direction of actionable legislation. This is the standard mega culture approach, fix specialized problems with specialist’s words made into law. It is the typical content based method that ignores the context, in this case how community truly functions, or not.
The content approach begins with the guns, the bullets, and then an attempt to understand (read standardize) the shooter type in a profiling sort of way. This profile concept hopes for a means to manage a specialized type of human being within our mega culture of isolation and specialization. If we can identify the outlier human being type as a digital information set “threat”, then we can control it, treat it, contain it, or so the illusion of mega culture management of social issues goes. No one seems to notice the repeated failure of this approach.
I wrote in Community and the Assault Rifle that someone in Aurora Colorado knew the theater shooter was dangerous, that he had the “wrong attitude” to have and use a gun. The community member who knew was Glenn Rotkovich. Glen stopped the Aurora theater shooter from using his commercial firing range for target practice. Now, five months later we have the Newtown Connecticut elementary school shootings. In a community based search for a solution the question would be, who knew? The shooter’s older brother was immediately picked up for police questioning. He quickly acknowledged his younger brother suffered from chronic mental health issues. Days later a neighbor who stayed with the shooter in his mother’s absence explained that the mother said to never turn your back on him. The father is silent except to the police.
Someone knew. Someone always knows. The brother, the neighbor, someone. They don’t know exactly that the isolated personality intends to fire up to eleven bullets into one first grader after another, but they sense danger, and they do not know what do with the special knowledge they have. Glen in Aurora kept his gun range safe. His perception of his responsibility was to protect his corner of the world, his business. In previous posts here I discuss isolation and specialization as limiters of wider responsibility within our contemporary mega community. In the end when the threat assessment team submits its report, if it is like before, we will learn someone knew and they did only what was immediate to their own specialized idea of a safe community. They will blame another specialized group, probably mental health experts and move on.
I grew up in a rural area. I was given my first gun at the age of 14. My dad bought it at the local hardware store. The worst thing I did with it was to skip school to go hunting. When I was taught to shoot I was given one bullet at a time even though the gun could carry five. Having one bullet in your gun makes you think, makes you careful and certain. Eventually I carried three, a first shot, the second in the unlikely case that the prey did not move after my first miss, and a third to put down a wounded animal, just in case. Three bullets in the gun, maybe three more in my pocket. Any more ammunition than this reveals one of two things, the gunman is a lousy shot, or a paranoid delusional danger to himself and to others. Gun owners used to be proud of how few bullets they used or carried, but that was when the NRA was advocating for expanded hunting lands, not expanded political rights. I quit the NRA decades ago.
A good guy with a gun is not the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun. This remarkably narrow world view invites a mega community arms race that will result in more gun sales, the NRA’s primary objective. The way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to support the community members who know something in doing more with that information. I’m not suggesting a divisive North Korean tattle tale system that rewards children turning in their parents for taking extra food by giving the snitch children more food. I’m talking about caring, awareness of intention and respect for the community’s well being. In the post Saying nothing I wrote about how isolation rewards commerce and undermines community. We need to start saying something. Someone knows and that can make all the difference if we say it with caring. Maybe we need fewer guns and more laws, but we need more to care.