Got your attention? Not happening any time soon. Wayne LaPierre, et al will take care of that. But that was a facetious title. No, this is really about the Ft. Hood shooting. We could all probably write the script for the news: Hand wringing, video of police cars and ambulances, news conferences by applicable authorities and most of all, discussions with analysts or “experts” on what went wrong and what might be done to prevent such incidents in the future. Most of the “solutions” that have been tried are impractical or ineffective. There is really only one, that doesn’t get discussed on air, the web or in print.
What do the commentators and the experts suggest must be done:
- Better gate checks and security screening (they admit that at Ft. Hood, this is unlikely to work; possibly it works at schools, office buildings, etc.–some of the time).
- Better mental health screening and treatment. Yes, of course this is needed but will all the people who need it get it in a timely manner? No, but perhaps it reduce the number of incidents
- Allow soldiers on post (teachers, office managers/employees, pilots/flight attendants, factory workers, etc.) to have their own arms to protect themselves. Actually floated by Homeland Security chief! In Vietnam, while in base camp our weapons were locked up because we were more at risk from one another than from the Viet Cong! More guns means more risk of accidental or intentional shootings–the “good guy” goes off the rails unexpectedly and becomes the shooter, the intruder disarms the good guy and shoots him or her with his/her own weapon, he or she commits suicide with the gun purchased for protection.
- Make it harder for everyone to get a gun, especially the “mentally ill” or felons. Good luck with the NRA-bound office holders on that. It’s a good idea though. To the long ago NRA-friendly bumper sticker, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” I say, EXACTLY! Look at the statistics of murder and suicide in Australia after they outlawed guns to see how well it worked! But that change is hardly going to happen in today’s America.
So where does this leave us? Deranged people are not going away any time soon. Guns are not going away. We cannot practically prevent the two from getting together to perpetrate acts of violence. Leaving aside terrorism and drive-by shootings among rival drug gangs (that’s another discussion about legalizing some drugs, taking away the profit in crime and hence the violence), we cannot protect every building or venue in America. We accept a certain number of deaths and serious injuries from persons falling or jumping off subway and other rail platforms for the benefit of having rapid mass transit–that a system with guard rails would ruin. Until people change, these events will be with us.
From a Buddhist perspective, what is required and what will make a difference is human revolution. As more people accept responsibility for their own lives, rather than blaming others for misfortune or unhappiness, they will be less likely to shoot them. As more people practice Buddhism, they will become better able to deal with the stresses and trauma that induce or aggravate mental illness. As society finds it less acceptable to engage in war, there will be less PTSD. We need to change our collective karma to keep terrorists at bay–not xray everyone everywhere, snoop into our phones and emails, etc.