Compared To . . . ?
About two months ago there was a high school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico that resulted in the deaths of two students. The shooter, who died in the incident, was armed with a Glock pistol that he legally purchased. The weapon is widely used by both law enforcement and civilians.
My sister lives in Albuquerque. With the tragedy occurring in her figurative backyard, my sister an sent an indignant email to me. The subject line was, “Just so sad . . .”
Because immigration is often a bone of contention between us, that vexed topic also worked it’s way into the discussion. She was particularly upset that the shooter was a white, American male. And, according to her, that these are the people that pose a real threat to our safety-as opposed to illegal immigrants. As she put it, “Who is killing more of us? White American males or illegal immigrants?”
And now we now have an even worse school shooting in Florida. Again, the shooter was a white, American male. But this time the shooter survived the episode, was arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The latest reports are that while the shooting was underway, four deputy sheriffs were hiding behind their nearby patrol cars-rather than storming the building. And that law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, ignored warnings signs of the danger posed by the shooter. The shooter was armed with a legally purchased, semi-automatic, AR-15 rifle. It’s estimated that there are several million of these weapons in circulation in the country.
Rivers of electronic ink have already been spilled discussing gun violence in this country. What can be said that hasn’t already been said? Well, here are a couple of ideas.
Compared To Most Of The World And Most Of Its History, America Is Peaceful
This is going to sound crazy coming on the heels of these horrific shootings, but by comparison to most of the world and for most of it’s history, America is peaceful.
The bloodiest war we ever fought was our Civil War, which left about 700,000 dead, more than the rest of our wars combined. A terrible tragedy, without question. But by comparison to the rest of the world, the US is a piker when it comes to blood letting.
One hundred years ago, Europe was nearing the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”-which did nothing of the sort for that bloody continent. In four years of savage trench warfare, over 9 million combatants lost their lives; additional millions of civilians perished.
But World War I was just the prelude to an even more horrifying conflict: World War II. This time, there were over 24 million military deaths, and nearly 30 million civilian. American deaths (about 419,000), were a tiny fraction of these mind numbing totals. And behind most of these countless deaths and maimings there were loved ones who, no doubt, experienced every bit as much grief as those who were left behind by our school shootings.
Am I making light of the shock and intense sorrow that has followed the school shootings in our country? Of course not; it’s just to put it in context. Do you charge me with being cold hearted? Fair enough. But what’s it called when you’re more grieved with 19 murders-than with the industrial scale slaughter of 24 million?
In light of these terrifying numbers, preachy articles like this one from an English newspaper, comparing European and US gun violence, and which are so prevalent after something like the Florida shooting, strike me, at best, as historically myopic. And, at worst, as hypocrytical.
“But,” you say, “those wars were a long time ago.” That’s right. So was The Holocaust-and the 6 million who died in the gas chambers. Are you saying, “It’s time to put The Holocaust behind us and focus on Florida”? The question answers itself.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you the gruesome details. But please, don’t lecture me about how “peaceful” Europe is in comparison to America. Scholars estimate that the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, may have been responsible for up to 50 million deaths. This quote, usually attributed to the Communist monster, is particularly apt here: “A single death is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Yes, America has its share of tragedies. But, thank God, we’re short on statistics.
Compared To Whom?
There’s an odd thing about these mass shootings that you probably haven’t noticed. And that’s that not all of them are committed by white, American males. In fact, a sizable number of these killings are committed by culprits that aren’t white, American males. And the reason you haven’t noticed this fact? Because the main stream media doesn’t want you to notice it. It doesn’t fit into their meme of white, American males as violent, gun happy criminals.
But the facts, here, tell a different story. Immigrants of all races, both legal and illegal, have killed at least 635 and wounded at least 2,160 as of December, 2017. And that doesn’t even count the 3,000 killed and over 6,000 injured in the September 11 attacks. But these facts are often concealed in the coverage of these immigrant crimes because the main stream media usually doesn’t even talk about these attributes of the culprit. Unless he’s a white, American male.
So, is it atrocious when a white, American male is involved in one of these horrific crimes? Absolutely. But it’s every bit as bad when the criminal is an immigrant, regardless of his race. And if it’s relevant that some of these crazed criminals are white, American males, then the ethnicity and immigration status of the the culprit should be relevant and reported in all cases.
Compared To What, Realistically, Can Be Done
I live within a few miles of where the Columbine High School massacre occurred. The body count in that tragedy left 15 dead (including the 2 perpetrators) and 24 wounded. The Superintendent of that school district, Jason Glass, knows all too well the suffering caused by these crimes. Since the Florida shooting, he has weighed in on school safety with some ideas worth paying attention to.
First, he doesn’t believe that more restrictive gun control laws or arming teachers will get any more traction this time than it has after the numerous, previous incidents of this kind. Thus, he doesn’t believe we should waste energy on the politically impossible. And, that, instead, we should focus on the politically possible.
Superintendent Glass thinks the following are possible:
- Putting trained, armed law enforcement officers in every school.
- Increase funding for school mental health services.
- Redesign schools to be more like airports, stadiums, and other public facilities, so that access is better controlled.
- Create a federally funded center to study school safety and security.
I think three of the four of these ideas make sense. I’m opposed, however, to turning the problem over to the federal government-even the funding. If the feds fund school safety research, it will almost certainly try to impose a “one size fits all” solution. When I was in the legislature, I learned that the “golden rule” rigidly applies to federal funding: he who has the gold, makes the rules. Colorado isn’t California or North Dakota or New York or Alaska. We’re smart enough to come up with a solution that works for Colorado; keep the feds out of it.