Another Public Shooting, Another Day in America

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

SOURCE: American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/>.

19 students and 2 teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

“The suspect purchased two AR-15-style rifles on May 22, two days before the massacre and six days after his birthday (ABC News, 2022).”1

Acquaintances of Ramos have described him to ABC News as “a weird kid” suggesting anti-social behavior and a reputation as an outcast, a state not uncommon among younger Americans particularly males.

“The shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom, and . . . just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life (Lt. Christopher Olivarez, Texas Department of Public Safety, 2022).”2

I am honestly desensitized to news stories like this because I have read too many of these headlines. No population that tolerates this kind of public violence every year, every month, sometimes every day, should be considered “civilized.” Will our politicians do anything about this gun violence? Probably not? Will a majority of Americans continue voting for these politicians? Probably.

There is no question that the United States of America has an issue with guns. Just by numbers alone: there are approximately 329.5 million people in the U.S. (U.S. Census, 2020)3 and the number of firearms is estimated to be over 400 million between military, police, civilians (American Gun Facts, 2022) with approximately 98% of those firearms in civilian hands.4 The simple fact that this country is saturated with firearms leads to the inevitable outcome of more crimes involving firearms.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 sets a national standard for the purchase of firearms – rifles can be purchased at 18 years of age while handguns can be purchases at 21 years of age (Shirin Ali, The Hill, 2022).5 An amending piece of legislation in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federally mandated background checks from licensed firearm dealers. However, regulations (including age restrictions) vary between states (which seems to contradict the age restriction set in the Gun Control Act of 1968). Some states have a lower age limit on handguns, some states have no limits on firearm possession. Considering the age limit for alcohol purchases is set at 21 years of age I think the age limit on firearm purchases should at least match that for alcohol purchases since alcohol consumption has a tendency to make one more violent by impairing judgment and unleashing inhibitions. There also must be a consistent standard for firearm purchases and possession enforced by the national government.

1ABC News, <https://abc7.com/elementary-school-shooting-texas-shooter-salvador-ramos-uvalde-tx/11893076/>.

2National Public Radio, <https://www.npr.org/2022/05/25/1101175912/uvalde-texas-shooting-victims-4th-grade-classroom>.

3Data Commons, <https://datacommons.org/place/country/USA?utm_medium=explore&mprop=count&popt=Person&hl=en>.

4American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/#:~:text=See%20Owning%20Gun-,How%20Many%20Guns%20in%20America%3F,120%20firearms%20per%20100%20citizens.>.

5The Hill, <https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/3493244-the-legal-ages-for-buying-a-gun-in-the-us/>.

Free speech is the foundation for civility.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is a rising ideology in America today, fostered by the political spectrum’s left-wing, that is antithetical to the values that Western Civilization has held dear for centuries.  This ideology is commonly referred to as “Progressivism,” although it is anything but progressive.  It seems to have been born out of a desire to give minority populations a stronger voice in political discourse but it is taken to such an extreme that it idolizes victimization and demonizes any position of privilege.  Some proponents of this ideology have driven it to an extent of advocating for dismantling Western political and judicial institutions on the basis that Western Civilization is founded on exploitations and subversions of alternative cultures.  Never mind that individuals in the West today enjoy a relatively peaceful society as well as longer lifespans and substantial freedom (Freedom House and Economic Intelligence Unit) compared to the rest of the world, many contemporary leftists focus on the negative aspects of Western civilization like institutionalized slavery and its subsequent repercussions, extreme poverty as a byproduct of excessive capitalism, the tendency of unregulated capitalism to move toward monopolies and corporate oligarchies, etc.  These new leftists either fail to recognize or simply ignore the benefits that Western civilization has brought its people like mass production of clothing, development of modern medical practices and medicinal remedies, personal empowerment through entrepreneurship, rising standards of living for all economic classes, etc.  The new leftists see the world through an extremely narrow and simplistic scope of oppressors and the oppressed with no middle ground.

Western civilization is not perfect, of course; no human society is perfect because humans are not perfect.  Human history has no shortage of prejudiced individuals and violent actions.  However; any honest scholar of human history will recognize that some of the worst atrocities have been committed in the pursuit of an utopian ideal.  A pragmatic and humanistic leader will help to govern his society based on how humans are, not how we ought to be.

Contemporary leftists are indeed pushing an idealistic and utopian agenda, one that seems eerily reminiscent of the old Marxist rhetoric which culminated in the Russian Revolution.  These new “cultural Marxists” seem be driven by a desire for a utopia in which prejudice is non-existent and they are more evident on college campuses.  The problem with this utopian ideology, as well-intentioned as it may be, is that it creates an “in-group” mentality among its proponents, which ironically fosters exclusiveness in pursuit of inclusiveness; in pursuit of an all-inclusive society, these neo-Communists fight to silence any rhetoric that may be labelled as hateful.  Never mind freedom of speech/expression for individuals, whatever speech that can be labelled as “hate speech” will not be tolerated by the neo-Communists.  This pro-censorship stance is antithetical to liberalism and an open marketplace of ideas.

Recent examples of these neo-Communists revealed themselves during Milo Yiannopolous‘ tour through American colleges, his “Dangerous Faggot Tour.”  During this multi-stop travelling experience,  Yiannopolous spoke publicly at privately scheduled events on the campuses of various colleges and universities.  Yiannopolous being a provocateur, often saying incendiary and inflammatory things, was met with much resistance in the form of protests.  Although, these protesters did not attempt to debate Yiannopolous intellectually and respectfully, they instead made a show of their opposition to him in attempts to disrupt and shut down his events.  Interruption, disruption, and (ultimately) censorship are the tactics of the neo-Communists because they seem to think that their ideology is above criticism and anyone who dares to question them must be a racist or a sexist or a homophobe and therefore do not deserve to be engaged with intellectually.  This “in-group” mentality is dangerous because it inculcates the people inside this ideology from any reasonable debate; the ideologues foster their beliefs inside an echo chamber and they become self-righteous.  Yiannopolous may say some insensitive things but he still has the political right to free speech and expression.  Debate is the appropriate response to controversy, not censorship.

Conservatives such as Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, and Lauren Southern have now taken up the mantle for free speech, but free speech as a political issue should be a basic unifying principle in any civilized society.  The ability to argue with each other without resorting to violent reactions, even if no consensus is reached, is what separates us from more barabaric societies.