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Ray Haynes

The Root Problem: Causation and Public Policy

I am never sure when to address the public policy questions that arise after a tragedy. I am always caught between a respect for the mourning of those who have lost loved ones and the real “public policy” questions raised by the tragedy. The challenge is that those on the left are not constrained by any moral compass. Every tragedy becomes the excuse for expanding government power, and the faster they press their agenda, the less constrained they are by the facts.

Within hours of the latest shootings by crazed young men, the left was in full “it’s the gun’s fault” mode, supplemented by the “we hate Donald Trump, so this has to be his fault” rhetoric. The media, quickly picking up on the left’s agenda, runs out to find facts that reinforce that construct. It doesn’t matter that the Dayton shooter had social media posts liked Antifa, was “radically” concerned about “global warming,” and supported Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, he was obviously driven by his “white supremacist” agenda and “Donald Trump’s rhetoric.” Don’t bother me with facts, it’s the agenda that counts.

Guns have always been with us in this country. The first real attempt at gun control at the federal level occurred in 1968. There were “semi-automatic” weapons with large clips then. I remember shooting them at a gun range at the age of 15, learning gun safety then. There were, however, no mass shootings then. The first time I ever heard of a “mass shooting” was Charles Whitman at the “Texas clock tower” shooting in 1966, which led to the 1968 law. Each shooting since then has led to a flurry of gun control efforts, which, in each case, has led to a flurry of more mass shootings.

The question is why. Whitman was definitely crazy. He killed his mother and his wife, went to the clock tower, and at the University of Texas, and just started shooting people. Turns out, his violent ideations may have been caused by a brain tumor. 18 years passed until the next mass murder, at a McDonalds in San Ysidro, California. Then the Luby’s massacre in Killeen, Texas in 1991. Each one raised a call for more gun control, and changes were made. To no effect. The killings continued. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that those who favored gun rights stopped the left from continuing to blame the gun for the bad public policies of the left.

So 175 years of a second amendment, at least 40 years of the weaponry existing for these types of killings, yet only in the last 10 years have the number of these killings gotten to the point where we can no longer easily list them off. Is it the gun? Or some other cause? The left runs to attach blame to the gun. I don’t think it is that easy.

There is no question that we as a society have removed some of the “moral” components that lead people to “voluntarily” limit their personal behavior, but that is only one side of the equation. The left cannot justify letting people who have committed real crimes, or demonstrated truly violent tendencies as a result of a mental illness, out on the streets. Poverty doesn’t cause crime, nor justify its commission. “Protecting privacy” is not a justification for prohibiting the legitimate exercise of the police power to find and incarcerate those who pose a real threat to society, yet those have been the justifications the left has used increase the presence of evil in our society. Then when evil strikes, they come up with band-aids to make it looks like their doing something to combat that evil, like regulating guns.

The fact is they have allowed that evil to walk free among us justifying its existence by laying blame on something other than the person who committed the evil, and then they are surprised when they let that person walk free, and the evil within them rears its ugly head. Regulating guns won’t solve the problem, stopping evil will. Stopping evil is, after all, the only legitimate exercise of government power.