Thursday, October 05, 2017

There are no answers.

A bit over ten years go, I pondered about "the search for answers" after a deranged student went on a shooting rampage on the Virginia Tech campus and killed 32 people. At the time I wrote that:
[A]t the end of the day, it might be the only explanation: there are crazy people amongst us, and sometimes they do crazy, violent things, and sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Since the time I wrote that, more crazy people have done the same thing, time and time and time again. An elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. A movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. A church in Charleston. A nightclub in Orlando. Fort Hood. San Bernadino. There's a list.

Sometimes they've been motivated by religious or ethnic hatred. Sometimes they're just mentally deficient. In every case, they are crazy and deranged people that take advantage of our (uniquely American) society's penchant for easy access to firearms to do damage and take lives.

And now, 59 dead in Las Vegas. Courtesy of some guy who seemed like a perfectly normal person. Days later, they still can't find a motive.

Maybe we'll know the gunman's motivations as the investigation continues. But maybe, the "search for answers" is pointless:
At the moment, no one has any idea why Stephen Craig Paddock brought a deadly arsenal up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, hammered out a window, and opened fire on a crowd of country-music fans two nights ago, killing at least 59 and wounding more than 500. 
Eventually, the full story will come out. It has to, given the number of investigators currently on the case. And when it does, it’ll be morbidly fascinating, especially given Paddock’s lack of any sort of criminal record and the apparent absence of any hint of online anger or radicalization. But his story also, in a very real sense, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because we already know many of the reasons why America is a dark outlier when it comes to gun violence in the developed world, with rates far, far higher than those found in similarly wealthy, developed nations. 
This might seem like an odd thing to say. Certainly there are important lessons to be learned from Paddock’s motives and thought processes, and from how he acquired his weapons. In a limited sense, yes. But from a policy perspective — from the perspective of actually figuring out how to prevent more massacres — no, not really. If the United States’ political system weren’t utterly broken with regard to gun policy and gun research, we’d be well on our way to ameliorating this problem based on the information we already have.
We'll offer meaningless "thoughts and prayers" about this, we'll have debates that go nowhere, and we'll deal with this again. Maybe next month. Maybe next spring. Maybe a year from now or maybe tomorrow. It won't matter.

There's nothing that can be done. There are crazy people, there are hateful people, and there is easy access to firearms that this nation's death merchants gun lobby will never allow to be limited, in the name of selling more firearms second amendment freedoms.

There are no answers. There is no solution. This will continue to happen.

God bless America.

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