Another shocking mass killing by an obsessed young man who fit the FBI’s profile of a predictable problem. A teenager who was a loner, had juvenile problems, was dropped from school, had a fascination with guns, and even shot animals for thrill. This demented young man shot off over 100 rounds in less than 3 minutes during his mad killing spree at his former school.
Now the blaming begins. Who, besides the killer, was at fault? How could this tragedy have been prevented? Many blame the FBI. They received two warnings about this man’s behavior. He had even threatened on email to “become a professional school shooter.” Families of the victims are understandably outraged that the FBI did not follow even the minimal protocol required by these warnings. But, in fact, the FBI receives many similar warnings daily. Which do they choose to investigate?
Some blame our laws, especially those that require use of a search warrant. These laws protect the innocent. Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights protect us from becoming a police state.
Many blame the munitions manufacturers and the gun sellers. Certainly the checks on gun purchasers are flawed and these assault weapon suppliers are more concerned with their sales than how the gun is used.
Even though they, too, are to blame, I believe the basic blame lies at the feet of our political leaders who have permitted sales of assault weapons. Why would it ever be legal to buy, own, and use a military, rapid-firing gun? Hunters use rifles, sharpshooters use special guns, and collectors have gun collections (many antiques) and I am sure the average American has no need for a military weapon.
I contacted the National Rifle Association headquarters and spoke with a very courteous gentleman. I specifically inquired why the organization would oppose laws eliminating purchase, ownership and use of assault weapons. His answer was, “if you open the door to this change, we will be in danger of changes in general gun ownership laws.”
In the meantime, the slaughter continues. I realize abolishing use of these mass killing weapons would be difficult because of the large numbers already privately owned. But if our political leaders were seriously obliged to outlaw these weapons, it could be accomplished.
It is tragic as mass killings continue that the almighty dollar (huge contributions to political campaigns) pre-empts lifesaving gun laws. Our president blames immigrants, but no immigrant has committed such a crime. He also proudly stated his support for, and association with, the NRA and its gun lobby.
When these massacres occur, many of our political leaders have been empathetic and expressed sincere concerns. But as time passes, the rhetoric begins to fade into the “we must investigate further” statements and then nothing is done.
I, too, must accept some blame as I became discouraged and therefore discontinued my communications with political leaders relative to this issue. Please join me now in pressuring all local, state, and national Democrats, Republicans and Independents to outlaw all military-style, rapid-firing guns and all assault weapons. We must be persistent, even to the President, with our calls, emails, personal letters and tweets. We need that “stick to it” patience to be sure that the assault weapon ban we propose remains on the political leaders “front burners.”
Harriet Hausman is a resident of River Forest.