A few days ago, I called my friend Randy, and he asked me if I had watched the news yet. Since it was not quite 11:00 in the morning, my response was “of course not.” I typically watch the noon news about 15 minutes for the weather forecast and to watch Mr. Food (a quick recipe program from my youth…carried on after the death of the creator by his director), and turn the TV back off before the “pet of the day” feature comes on. In fact, if my set is on at all during the day, it’s either a weekend and I’m watching some sport event or it’s running a music app (Calm Radio or my Amazon Music subscription). I will watch the local news from 6-6:30 evenings, and (possibly, but not likely) the national news feed for 5-30 minutes. After that, there’s not much I watch, music (again) or some video game playing into the evening (Destiny has eaten many nights lately). But, to WATCH TV, in general that doesn’t happen.
Randy has committed a fair chunk of his life to following the news (I don’t remember his kitchen set displaying anything else…) and told me about the Las Vegas shooting. After another 10 minutes of talk, we said goodbye and I fired up the set…and lost 2 hours. Later another 45 minutes of focused attention directed at other peoples horror and shattered lives disappeared. Since then, I have listened to various sources (radio, mostly) of speculation, interviews, and commentary on what happened, why, and what could be done to prevent similar events in the future.
Much (if not most) of what I heard was predicable, and in the long run, pointless, as they were discussing answers to the wrong question. The bulk was (probably) well meaning, “considered” opinions intended to address concerns, solve problems and fix situations.
There was the call for stricter gun laws. Bans for assault rifles, wholesale removal of personal weapons from the hands of people in general. Others questioned what could be done to increase safety of the people attending events.
My dad had a habit of saying “locks only keep out honest people” and this concept applies in this situation. Legal restrictions only apply effectively to the people that are willing to follow such restrictions. In other words, a rule to make [insert position desired here] illegal/immoral/undesirable will not be obeyed by the very people it is aimed at, those who want to [insert position desired here]. The percentage of people committing crimes with legally obtained, licensed and registered firearms is ridiculously small. Making purchase, possession and use of an addictive (or simply desirable) substance illegal works mostly for the people that don’t want it in the first place. (In college I wrote a position paper making drug use legal with serious restrictions, including a lifetime agreement that getting a licence to consume would permanently make the user ineligible for ANY public assistance—unemployment, welfare, food stamps, medical assistance, the whole works—thus placing full acceptance of the individuals responsibility for consequences on his shoulders. I was the only person in the class of 30 that took a pro side…) Locks and laws.
But, fully automatic weapons are already illegal. Restricting hand guns would have no effect in this situation as they would only have been effective in the hands of a person in proximity to the shooter…in the hotel room (or possibly passing by and taking decisive action to break into a crime scene with the sound of massive firepower already taking place. Screening attendees or scanning crowds attending, again, is pointless, as the crime was not committed on the scene. Requiring armed snipers for every event scheduled everywhere “just in case” is insane.
“What could have been done, and/or what could be done in the future to prevent this from happening again” is the questions that are being asked, along with “WHY” but this is, I contend, the wrong question(s).
Ultimately, the question that HAS to be asked is: “What price are you willing to pay for prevention going forward?” How much of your life are you willing to change, what freedoms are you happy to give away to prevent this kind of event from happening.
The shooter broke out a couple of windows to provide a firing lane. Are you willing to pay $500+ more a night to stay in a building that has unbreakable windows, or built without windows at all so this cannot happen? The shooter (apparently) transported the weapons in his private vehicle and carried them into the hotel. Are you willing to give up private ownership of transportation, relying perhaps on a publicly owned pool of cars constantly monitored to prevent transport of “improper” materials? Willing to give up private ownership of almost everything so as to keep the world safe (I’m somewhat surprised there has not been a drone bomb attack yet at some large gathering of people, but then drones cost more than pressure cookers)? Ready to sign on for a national passport and checkpoints to do random inspections (if you think racial profiling is bad now, just wait…) without warning to keep the greater good safe from the actions of an independent madman?
The sorry truth is it is impossible to protect anything against the committed actions of an individual, one that is willing to pay whatever cost is deemed necessary to accomplish a sufficiently significant goal. Just ask any self-bomber, oh wait, you can’t… Assassinations, overthrows, even the most determined dictator can be targeted by a person “crazy” enough to do whatever it takes.
It hurts seriously to be writing this post. My heart goes out to the victims and families of the same. I am spending more time than I want meditating and praying for large groups of people I don’t know, and will (probably) never meet, but whose lives have been shattered by circumstances and events outside their control (including, but not limited to, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, drive-by shootings, bombs, knives, guns, drunk/impaired/distracted drivers, prescription/illicit drug use, difference of opinion, [insert cause here]). I don’t want to be here, doing this. I’d rather be on the couch, reading a book and listening to music. But I feel compelled to ask the right question, and giving a personal answer, too.
I’m not willing to live in a North Korean kind of governmental enclave to assume some vision of protectionism. I hope I never have to find out personally what it means to experience the horrors of the full measure of evil mankind can generate against man. I fervently hope that, if the ultimate test case comes to pass, that I am able to rise to the occasion and be a part of the solution.
The world needs heroes, always has, always will. May we all be found worthy when our test comes…
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