Gun Violence

12.16.12

The Myths that Enable Gun Tragedies

I have a long article in Britain's Sunday Times about the myths that enable America's gun tragedies. The Times is paywalled. Here's the intro.

After a horrific massacre such as the one in Newtown, Connecticut, the word “senseless” gets a lively airing. Public commentators in America who otherwise deliver the most vituperative and screeching content will hush their voices to deliver sad sermons of resignation. It’s just the inevitable and inscrutable nature of things (they explain) for evil to erupt at intervals. There is nothing to be said and nothing to be done.

This is all untrue. There is a lot that might be said to explain the American propensity for mass killing. There is a lot that could be done to reduce the frequency and lethality of such crimes. The message of sorrow is intended not to console but to conceal — to divert attention from the public policy choices that enabled the Connecticut killer to break the heart of a town.