I'm not really sure what the Seattle Times is advocating, because their editorial is so vague and nonspecific. "Saying and doing nothing is not an option," they write. Really? Then why don't they say or do anything?
But one particular sentence really sticks in my craw:
Events this week stunned on opposite coasts and across the world. On Friday a gunman fatally shot 27 people, including 20 Connecticut elementary schoolchildren, and the toll may rise. Hearts break at the news that the children killed were between 5 and 10 years old.
The same day, a knife-wielding man attacked 22 children outside of their primary school in Henan province in central China.
On Tuesday, a shooter killed two people and injured one at an Oregon shopping mall.
The common element in the tragedies, and the mass violent attacks of the past, is that they took place in innocuous settings — shopping malls, schools — with innocent victims.
Yeah, maybe. But the uncommon element in these tragedies is that in the mass-stabbing outside the Chinese school, nobody died. That the editors fail to mention this salient fact is rather stunning. And telling.
One "common theme," as the editors conclude, may in fact be "bloodshed." But if there's anything the contemporaneous Chinese attack demonstrates it's that guns are much more efficient tools of bloodshed than knives. I doubt Americans are much crazier than people elsewhere. But we're certainly better armed. And crazy + guns = death.
We need a stronger public mental healthcare system (as opposed to, say, defunding Disability Lifeline, as the Seattle Times has tacitly endorsed), and we need stronger gun control laws. In fact, the two go hand in hand, for we can't effectively restrict the mentally ill's access to tools of mass murder if we can't identify and track either.
But if our opinion leaders lack the will to even say that knives are fundamentally different from guns, it's hard to imagine how we'll ever manage to do anything.