There are monsters among us. Monsters which walk the streets with us and work the jobs we do.
These particular monsters are the ones we live with, the ones we work with, the ones we love. The ones that hide in plain sight, and can seemingly break at a moment’s notice. I’m not trying to make anyone paranoid, but I do think it’s important to recognize how prevalent these people really are.
The latest account of these monsters of course was the Parkland shooting, in which a 19-year-old kid slaughtered 17 individuals with an AR-15, most of them children. The event seems to have rekindled a long debate about gun regulations and mental health. And while I believe a conversation like this is well needed, I think in many regards it is being squandered.
Most participating in this conversation don’t want change. They may want these things to stop, but more than that they want to be right. You hear it constantly from both sides claiming the other to be snowflakes, or racists or pansies or any number of other ad hominems. Needless to say, this approach will never solve anything, and I think in order for there to be any semblance of progress going forward there are a few hard truths we all must face.
I’m not going to sit here and preach to you as if I have all the answers, and if you’re here to be comforted and insulated from the harsh realities we face then you’re in the wrong place. Everyone seems hellbent on interjecting their own spin and beliefs on this, but there is something that seems consistently overlooked by every side. It’s not the machines, laws or tools designed in this way, it is us.
Society is sick, as in diseased sick, but I suppose the other allegory works too. Everyone can sense it, everyone will agree and yet no one can agree why or what is to be done. We argue, bicker and insult each other in the wake of these tragedies, and sit back knowing that another event is somewhere on the horizon. We don’t have common goals anymore, we have agendas. We don’t have conversations, we have domination. We don’t have an exchange of ideas, we have iconoclasts in verbal onslaughts and battles of bravado. We don’t have the ability to openly discuss ideas, we have futile censorship to force away ideas. The best way to describe it, is that we have lost touch with one another.
The single most important aspect of combating a problem is understanding how it is created. You can name call and obfuscate reality all day long but it doesn’t help anything. These people that perform these horrendous acts do this directly to spite the system which has in one regard or another failed them. They do it as a final ‘fuck you’ to the society and world which has long since forgotten them. Monsters are not born, they are created. Created by a society which claims everyone is equal and yet treats them as if they are not. A society that claims you can be anything and does virtually nothing to help you get there. By people who claim to uphold the moral high ground, and yet spit the most vitriolic toxic gossip. By a system which claims to reward hard work and yet strangles its own lifeblood.
We are all, to some degree or another, monsters. The only aspect which keeps us from being defined as such is the refusal to act monstrously. It is the fabric which binds society together, and makes modern civilization possible. The unspoken agreement of discussion rather than aggression. The placement of human dignity and responsibility on a pedestal above all else. But as some may have noticed, this contract has begun to come unraveled.
In life you’re always going to have winners and losers, its just the natural course. May seem brutal, but that’s life to the best we know how to do it. That doesn’t mean that those who fail should be entirely abandoned, but it does mean that some will be more successful than others. Some people can’t handle that fact, and choose to lash out against the system. Every time the faces of one of these killers is recognized and flaunted, it inspires a new generation of predators. Those who seek to inhibit and damage the system by whatever means are available to them. It is true; some people just want to watch the world burn. There is no counter measure to true evil, there is only reaching an individual before that evil does.
I’m not trying to blame each and every individual in our country for the actions of a few deranged minds, but it would be a lie to say that we are not in some way complicit. We built the society in which psychopaths can thrive. Social media propels the outlandish and depraved to fame and fortune. Employers reward backstabbing colleagues to grind their skulls on the way to the top. Parents are punished and shamed for disciplining their children. The nuclear family is gutted to make way for the thespian state. The police gun down citizens without a second thought or trial. The media and pseudo-journalists denounce officers and publish outright slander for the sake of narrative. The lawyers defend molesters and murderers, and make justice a question of monetary value and not appropriate action. The doctors jettison untested medication on dangerously unstable minds hoping that one will stick. We all take the short lucrative way out, because it is easier than facing the truth.
And that’s my two cents, but what can be done about it if anything? How do you stop almost invisible monsters without heavily restricting the right of all? There is a lot of people who are more than happy to offer a partisan opinion on this issue, but few of them propose any sort of palpable change. There are those who truly just want improvement, and those who simply want to complain. So in an effort to NOT be defined as the latter, here are a few suggestions I myself have thought of.
Full disclaimer: I am a gun owner and enthusiast, as is most of the people in my family. I have been around them for many years, so save the accusations of trying to shred the 2nd amendment. That is not what I’m about, nor will it ever be.
#1 Gun control:
I know it’s a dirty term, and I even gagged a little bit when I spelled it out. No not a ban on assault rifles or any firearms for that matter, and especially not a confiscation of them. And yes, I know criminals do not follow laws, and whatever laws are enacted will go largely ignored by them. But we do not put laws in place knowing that they are impossible to break. If we did, then no one would do drugs, or steal, or rape, or murder. The idea is to set the precedent and appropriate punishment for violating said law. It is a deterrent from committing a crime and in the end that’s all that a law really can be.
Most of you drive a car, one which you need a license, insurance, training and competence to do so legally. I think it’s time to apply the same logic to guns. And while yes, I hate the idea of a national registry, I think saving children’s lives is more important. Plus, it wouldn’t be needed for pistols, shotguns and rifles, I’m mostly talking about “assault rifles” since a few certain scumfucks have ruined it for the rest of us. My name on a piece of paper and a day required to maintain the license is a small price to pay.
And to anyone unironically suggesting government should forcefully remove all guns from circulation or that the government will ever actually attempt that, you are both delusional, because neither will ever happen.
#2 Mental health reform
Doctors have a nasty habit of throwing medication at people diagnosed with depression. Again, not trying to say the doctors are heartless savages, I just think that it has become the norm to do so.
Do a quick google search and see for yourself how many of these shooters have been on some form of anti-depressant. It’s horrifying really. Some people have great experiences using these medications, but the effects of these medications need to be more closely monitored at least for the first little while. Most ‘happy pills’ affect dopamine production, which in turn balances out the mood, normally. However, this approach is an artificial solution to an emotional problem. It’s like buying your girlfriend a Harley after her dog dies, she may be happy for the slick new wheels, but it doesn’t really fill the void.
Your brain becomes used to operating at certain levels of dopamine for years at a time, whether or not that level is where you want it to be. If all of the sudden you introduce an outside chemical into your mind, it’s obvious that things could change, sometimes for the very worst. The brain naturally freaks out a bit at first. This has often been described as an angry-happiness, or a superior happiness. It’s like being so happy that anyone who dares challenge your happiness should be punched in the face. Going forward there must be a more concerted effort to address the root of these issues, and prescribe the proper and possibly alternative treatments.
#3 Cool-down period:
So, this is going to get a bit dark, but hey isn’t everything on this blog? To anticipate a predator, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a predator. You have to know what makes these freaks tick in order to have any hope of effectively countering them.
Picture this: you had a bad week. You got fired, your spouse cheated on you, your favorite team is out of the playoffs, you have stage 4 cancer and your neighbor still won’t mind his own goddamn business. You snap. You go to the local gun store with the sole intent of acquiring a weapon and murdering as many people as you possibly can. This is where the cool down period comes in.
Basically, once you apply to buy yourself a gun, you must wait a predetermined period of time (say 2 weeks) before you can actually walk out of the shop with said firearm. This gives you a whole 2 weeks to just sort of think about what it is you are about to do. It gives a looming school shooter time to reflect on the monstrous actions they are about to commit. I realize this isn’t going to stop all of them, but to me it is a non-negative risk. The only real drawback would be a normal gun owner being slightly inconvenienced when buying a new gun.
#4 Metal detectors / armed security decal. / concealed carry teachers.
We have metal detectors for government buildings and airplanes, so why not to protect the most precious thing most people have? Their children. The TSA makes you damn near get a prostate milking every time you go through the airport, so I think it’s time we installed a few metal detectors at schools.
Forget the useless ‘gun-free zone’ signs, and get some armed guards on the perimeter trained to be first responders to a situation. I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sure how I feel about teachers with guns, seeing as how the students are the biggest threats and if they were to get ahold of their gun, then it could be very bad. But of course, teachers have every right to protect their students and themselves, so as long as they demonstrate competence and ability to keep a firearm under lock-and-key then I’m all for it.
So that’s it that’s all I got. Needless to say, this situation sucks, and I’m beyond skeptical that anything will change anytime soon. My heart goes out to all those affected, but I find it unfortunate that we can no longer have a reasonable debate about the issue. These are uncomfortable truths, and if we do not address them head on than I really don’t think much will change. So enough of the broad categorization, enough of the divisive identity politics, enough of the reductionary thinking, it’s time to have open dialogue about everything.
Do I think it will happen? No, I don’t. I think blaming someone else is easier and that will never change. I think our divisive and at times cancerous political environment prevents us from going forward or enacting effective solutions. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, in fact I hope I will be, but if the murders of school children cannot convince us to work together and bridge sectarian schisms, then nothing ever will.