You could almost predict the political reactions to this past week’s mass shootings. President Trump addressed the nation to state that hatred and gun violence have no place in America, and his most virulent opponents charged that the president was the cause of both.
The reasons for mass shootings are complex, and election-year political battles are usually an impediment for finding timely and effective solutions for terrible problems. It doesn’t help that the president has a combative personality and is given to exaggeration. He has a knack for infuriating opponents and often succeeds.
Unfortunately, the reaction of many Democrats has been to focus almost entirely on ending his presidency instead of addressing important national problems. The impeachment option has faded, so now their attention is on the 2020 elections. Some presidential candidates have seized on the shootings as an opportunity to raise their political profiles … seeking TV exposure by linking the tragedies to Trump.
Political maneuvering aside, reasonable citizens yearn for sensible ways to address mass shootings in our nation. This isn’t helped by recent introductions of charges about “white supremacy.” The idea is that some kind of racist movement is gaining strength in the nation, leading to acts of violence against minorities.
There have always been individuals who think they are better than others, based only on race. They seek excuses for their own shortcomings and often have failed to find meaningful roles in society. Fortunately, there aren’t many of these people. The only reason the suggestion of “white supremacy” is gaining prominence today is because some politicians and media commentators are seeking attention by promoting it. We think the notion is overblown and don’t think the public will buy it.
The real focus should remain on the grim reality of mass shootings and the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to redouble their efforts to address gun violence and its foundations. These efforts should include not just how gun ownership and possession laws might be strengthened, but also how mental illness, family breakdowns, social media and other issues may contribute to murder and mayhem.
The fact is that laws, by themselves, cannot provide solutions for many of the circumstances that lead to intolerance, discord and violence. Today’s society has jettisoned many of the rules and values that provided guardrails for earlier generations. We are living with the consequences, and not all are serving us well.