21 January 2013
What protects your family from your family?
Call it a domestic amoklauf if you like, even though the Albuquerque NM shooter who killed his parents and three siblings wasn't interested, from what we can tell, in taking people with him. He doesn't seem to have been planning to go anywhere. He must have thought, however, that life would be better without his family. So what do we know? Obviously there were guns in the house. The boy's dad was a pastor and had been homeschooling him. The kid favored military fatigues, either identifying with soldiers or supposing that they looked cool. At first glance, this looks like a family that trusted in religion to check people's violent impulses. Some armchair psychiatrists infer from the boy having been taken out of public school and educated at home that he must have had ADD or some similar disorder, but that can't be the case with every homeschooled kid. After Newtown the NRA and its allies want to frame the overall problem as a mental-health issue. They'll rush to portray every mass shooter as a nut (rather than a gun nut) that the system should have institutionalized or medicated while leaving the innocents and their guns alone. They'll look for any evidence of enthusiasm for video games, as if the "good guys" have no fantasies of violence despite everything they say in public about repelling hordes of evildoers. They'd like to say the boy needed religion, but it looks like he had plenty of that. He needed better religion, some will say. Every such tragedy has its reasons, from all of which the "good guys" demand to be presumed immune. Maybe the answer isn't just guns in every home, but guns in every room! The keep-and-bear crowd envision themselves protecting their families from outsiders -- criminals, the government, post-apocalyptic hordes, etc. -- but what happens when the enemy is within? The Albuquerque tragedy is the national tragedy in microcosm. That play won't close until we think of different ways toward peace -- and this seems like the day to do that for a moment.