Now we have a Parkland and a Nikolas Cruz to add to the litany of disturbed young men who have committed mass murder of other young men and women and, as usual, the cry is that “we must do something”. But the something almost always begins with more control of guns that would not have prevented the event. This is not exactly the case here, because this deranged young man, given the mounting evidence of failure of local police and FBI follow up in advance of and even during the shooting, should never have been in a position to commit a crime to this extent. So the argument about changes in gun control policy in this case is moot.
But other parts of the “something” are still in play here. First, the lack of aggressive supervisory intervention in lives that are obviously tormented and oriented to violence must be corrected and there should be a bias for action regardless of privacy and civil rights concerns. No, I don’t mean “take the guns first” without due process, as the President has clumsily suggested, but I do mean a revisit to serious levels of coerced treatment, including involuntary institutionalization. Second, the fact that we now have plenty of evidence that these random shooting events primarily take place in “gun free zones”, an obvious opening and incentive for these disturbed young men to have free rein in their aggression, should prompt us to remedy this defenseless situation by arming well-trained educators and security officers in these buildings to shoot back. Third, and maybe most significant, we must get serious about the cultural inputs that drive a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness in many of our youth, particularly young men who, because of family breakdown, do not have father figures in their lives. They have a dark vacancy in their souls, yes souls, that cannot be filled by the cultural constructs produced by our media and entertainment outlets or other secular substitutes. This last and most important point is not one we will hear much about in the debates over Parkland, but it is probably the one to which we should devote the most attention.