Like many Americans, I have been thinking about this latest mass shooting. Clearly the dynamic has changed since Friday, and some of that is probably good. I am not completely sure why the 20 dead kids are that much more tragic than the 6 dead adults (excluding the shooter, of course, though that is also tragic). Certainly no less tragic than the KC Chief player shooting the mother of his child and then himself to leave that child parentless.
But that aside, one thing I really like is that the conversation in certain circles is really honest and thoughtful. Some liberals and progressives are genuinely asking about gun control and not just assuming that it is automatically going to help. Josh Marshall asked about studies that purport to show lower violence in states with more restriction (can't find the link, sorry). James Fallows and Jeffrey Goldberg are engaging with the idea that gun control may not be able to do what we want. Talking points published this informed discussion (I think posted this the other day) on the changing nature of the gun culture, and that Fallows link also lists some reader responses trying to educate the non-gun public on the perils of restricting scary looking guns (as evidently the assault weapon ban did) rather than anything meaningful.
There has been more than our share of stupidity. Mike Huckabee and James Dobson have both claimed that we are witnessing the result of moral decline, and Megan McCardle evidently (I didn't read the entire thing) suggested that we teach our kids to rush gunmen. Ugh. Tennessee and Michigan both moved to allow teachers to arm themselves in classrooms. Double ugh.
But around the periphery of this discussion, I think, is a discussion about community. I think it is completely reasonable to suggest that gun restrictions are no more helpful to society than our war on drugs--though I am not sure I completely agree. But there are absolutely legitimate 2nd amendment issues at play here--regardless of what liberals believe. I get that. But the suggestion that teachers need to arm themselves struck a chord about community, or the lack there of.
Consider it this way. On one hand, we are being told by conservatives that gun restrictions won't work and should not be used--but many of those same conservatives are also pushing to reduce elements of our community fabric. Less money for cops and firemen--and of course less money for public health and mental health facilities. In that context, telling the teacher to arm themselves sounds more like outsourcing than some Rambo approach to teaching. It sounds, to my ear, as conservatives saying, "we won't pay for those things that might help, and we absolutely won't give up our right to purchase whatever crazy gun or bullet we want--but we will tell you that you are on your own and you better provide your own security."
Perfectly reasonable, as many of my conservative friends have said, to suggest that gun control simply won't make us safer. But less reasonable to then ignore that Republicans are purposefully cutting programs that might make us more safe and which have nothing to do with guns. Mental health professionals have told me that assistance for families dealing with mental illness is often one of the first budget cuts. Putting more cops on the street is unthinkable in a context where raising taxes just a few percentage points is harder than getting authorization to invade a country. And think about all of those health clinics that have closed over the past two decades. Not saying that all of those in place would make us immune from school shootings, but those are policies that have a track record of helping communities be safer.
Focusing on the guns misses that broader connection, I think. Part of our battle here is between conservatives who really don't want a broader "we are all in this together" and liberals who, however misguided on banning handguns (for example), who believe that that individual right is running straight into a crowd of innocent people.