Suggested Readings: Some Thoughts on Murder

October 5, 2015

The tragic and horrific murders in Oregon have primarily brought out two reactions. The first is to be lauded – an emotional outpouring of grief and support from around the country. The second is to be expected and scorned – an attempt to turn the tragedy into a political lesson, either supporting drastic gun control or supporting open carry laws.


However, two commentators recently had something different to say:

Here’s the cold, hard truth of many, if not most, American mass killings — there is, in this nation of 320 million souls, a certain small number of evil young men who have convinced themselves that the path to greatness lies over the bodies of the innocent. Some of them hate African Americans. Some of them hate Christians. Some of them hate indiscriminately. Finding these young men is like finding a needle in a haystack, and it’s just as hard to deprive them of access to weapons. – David French, “Will Roseburg Prompt a ‘National Conversation’ on Anti-Christian Bigotry?”

Our ordinary crime is largely the result of ordinary failures: failed families, failed schools, failed communities, failed police departments, failed penal institutions, failed parole systems. Even our dramatic crimes are mostly rooted in ordinary failures: those failed families, again, failed mental-health practices, etc. A scary-looking rifle is visually arresting, a fact that tells us something about the weapon, and maybe something about us. It doesn’t tell us anything useful about the actual challenges facing the United States in 2015. – Kevin D. Williamson, “Don’t Play the Shooter’s Game”

Both of these writers left out of their discussions two other kinds of “mass murderers,” namely jihadists and gang members. But both of these groups also fit into the model of young men whose failed families, schools and communities left them disturbed and prone to violence. If the real reason these murders happen is because of failed families and communities, then perhaps we should stop arguing about gun control, and start talking to each other about healing families and communities.


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