Monday, June 13, 2016

ORLANDO SHOOTINGS: Start with the obvious (guns)

People will engage in non-stop probing of the ideology and prejudice involved in the Orlando shootings. But the place to start is harm reduction: control the guns!

The shootings in Orlando: someone described it to me yesterday as a "perfect storm," combining:

* guns

* ideology and prejudice

* mental illness

Let's break it down.

(1) Mental Illness - Let's be clear: anyone who commits an act like this is mentally ill.

There will always be people suffering from mental illness. That's the X factor in this whole discussion. So as we consider the other factors, and we consider how those factors might be controlled, we need to keep coming back to the question, "Does trying to manage this factor seem like a reasonable approach to trying to head off the possible tragedy involving someone suffering from mental illness?"

(2) Guns - Take the guns out of the picture and what happens?

If you begin from the proposition that the violence in Orlando emanated from a troubled mind, and that, ultimately, we simply can't see into everyone's mind . . . then if you're really interested in effective harm reduction, the solution is a drastic reduction/elimination of the instruments of harm -- the guns.

(3) Ideology/Prejudice - This is the thing people will talk about ad nauseum in the days ahead -- and it also happens to be the thing that is the most complex and intractable, and the least likely to bring us to a changed situation any time soon.

The gunman in Orlando was subjected to the same swirl of ideas and prejudices that all the rest of us are all the time. What's different is that his mental state translated them into this particular atrocity (together with the necessary instrument -- the gun). No one really understands how that particular translation happened.

There will be a lot of focus on his association with ISIS. But to be precise, the diverse ideas and prejudices that need to be accounted for include islamophobia, prejudice against LGBTQ people, racism, the US culture of power and violence, and much more.

Make no mistake: I think we need a solution to ideology and prejudice - a spiritual awakening.

But let's start with harm reduction. Get the guns out off the streets.

Related posts

All the good intentions in the world won't get the job done unless we are organized. To reach our gun safety and gun control goals, we need skilled coordination to help us.

(See Stopping Gun Violence: Time to get effective .... )

A virus is able to be so successful precisely because it (most of the time) doesn't kill its host. I can't help thinking that we simply are not being intelligent about how to respond to violence. How might recognizing the "viral" nature of violence help us to respond to it more intelligently?

(See Violence: Taking Over Like a Virus)

We are allowed to know all about these killings, provided we're prepared to believe the statements of a person we can't confirm exists about a program which is not acknowledged to be happening. We are living in a nightmare that makes Philip K. Dick's dystopias look cozy in comparison.

(See Drones and Zero Accountability Government)