Someone (or possibly several anonymous someones) takes me to task from time to time for my love of firearms and my support of the second amendment. I recently received an email on my “Comments” page that contained (in part) the following: “Have you seen the father of the boy who was killed in the Santa Barbara shooting? Have you seen him on television? How does he make you feel about your gun rights [sic]?”
(I am being persnickety about the “gun rights” correction, but guns are inanimate objects and have no rights. He or she meant second amendment rights.)
Yes, I have seen him, and my heart goes out to him. His pain and grief are unimaginable, and no one in their right mind could fault him for lashing out. I pray God will give him the strength to come through this and to eventually find some peace.
Having said that, I have to point out that his anger is misdirected. The gun didn’t shoot his son anymore the knife killed the three young men who had the misfortune to share an apartment with a monster, anymore than a BMW SUV killed (injured?) the bicyclist who had the misfortune to be on the street that night. Nor were craven politicians responsible, nor was the NRA. Nor were the police who obeyed the law and respected their own oath and the Constitution of the United States by not “doing more” (that seems to be the phrase I hear most frequently on the news) the night they went to the monster’s apartment. Nor were his parents. Nor were the mental health providers he saw. Nor was his Asperger’s Syndrome.
The young man who is responsible for the horror in Santa Barbara was a spoiled, narcissistic, jealous monster. He was evil, and there is no explanation for evil. Evil exists, just as good exists. Fortunately, there is far, far more good in the world than there is evil.
There are approximately ninety million gun owners in the United States, who enjoy sport and recreation with their firearms and never use them to commit any crime. More than that: legally-owned firearms are used defensively (to save lives and prevent crimes) approximately one million times a year in America. Those goods far outweigh the evil that is done.
Many tens of thousands of people (no one knows precisely how many) have Asperger’s and harm no one. Should we judge them all by the actions of an evil monster?
It is normal to cry out in pain, and it is normal to try and assign blame after a horror like this, but the blame lies solely with the monster. As my friend, gun-writer Dave Workman said in an email, “[He] had everything a kid could want, but nothing a young man needed: Character, self-reliance, a sense of responsibility, self-control, a sense of right and wrong.” No new laws, no further restrictions on the rights of gun owners or people with mental problems—or any other citizens—will ever prevent evil. We might just as well try to make ourselves feel good by banning BMW SUVs.
I read somewhere that over 2.2-million people have read the monster’s “manifesto” on line. I will not.