‘The root cause of these attacks’

Published 9:22 am Friday, July 15, 2016

I agree with James Peca (“Ban assault weapons,” Friday, July 1). Something has to be done about a society where individuals think the solution is to buy a gun and shoot the place up.

But what does such a rampage solve? Absolutely nothing. A shoot-em-up rampage does not address the issue that caused the rampage itself.

In my opinion, the only thing it does is get the perpetrator his or her 15 minutes of infamy, a lifetime of grief for the families of the victims and “suicide by cop” for the perpetrator.

Yes, Peca is quite right about the training that is required to be an efficient and effective shooter in a crisis situation, especially when people are shooting back at you.

But banning “assault weapons” only addresses a symptom of the malady our society is facing. I could go to any one of dozens of stores within a day’s drive and buy a couple of machetes and go on just as deadly a rampage.

Once the people at the rampage get over their shock and call the police, it is still going to be 10-15 minutes of carnage before the police arrive.

I believe the answer is to look for the root causes of these attacks: fear, anger, isolationism and desperation.

Peca and I grew up in an era when the media delivered to us moral lessons. Look at what the media (even the “news media”) deliver to us now. Blood and gore is glorified.

Look what has been eliminated from our educational system due to budget cuts. I had to pass a civics course that included social responsibility in order to graduate from high school. Is there even such a course today?

Throughout my secondary education, I was taught morals and ethics. My disciplinary issues were handled by my parents, not relegated to a school “resource” officer.

I won’t agree with Peca that banning “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines is the answer, but I wholeheartedly agree with Peca that something must be done.

As a society, we must address those issues that separate us into warring camps of suspicion and fear. Address the inadequate mental health care. Address the self-discipline, moral and ethical issues my generation was taught in primary and secondary education, and it must start when a child is running around in diapers.

So, blame bad schooling, blame lack of mental health care, blame bad parenting.

But don’t blame my AR-15 and its brethren for the evils of this sick and twisted society.

After all, the evil “assault weapon” does not pull its own trigger; a person pulls it.

JOHN WATSON is a Vietnam veteran from Meherrin. His email address is jawatson.va@outlook.com.