I turned to Fox News tonight just to hear what the machine was drumming out about Republican and NRA-friendly Democrat legislators having a change of heart on gun control. The themes of the night seem to be:
- (Some guest) Evil just exists and rather than get political or try to pass legislation to contain evil, we should just have sympathy
- (Huckabee) Since God has been excused from classrooms, we have more godless, evil people around and so the solution is to put God back into our public schools
- (Hannity and O’Reilly) The Liberal Media At MSNBC started using the tragedy as a forum for progressive changes that might stop gun violence far too soon.
- (Hannity) We need to settle down, resist the urge to react emotionally, and approach this problem “rationally”
O’Reilly seemed a little more befuddled than the others, as if he were on the verge of seriously re-considering some positions, as he expressed doubt that civilians really need to have access to “AK-15’s” (sic) (ahem). A guest soon corrected him and O’Reilly laughed about how everyone will now think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to gun control.
One O’Reilly guest, SAF’s Alan Gottlieb, who apparently was used as a proxy for the NRA’s media black-out, said that what we really need to do to prevent these types of shootings is limit sales to people with a history of mental illnesses. Bill correctly replied that the Sandy Hook shooter didn’t have a history of psychological problems (but left out that he didn’t buy his guns, anyway), so no plausible screening would have caught Lanza. The guest disagreed, seeming to know nothing about this case besides what O’Reilly had said in his opening comments (apparently a severe case of “epistemic closure“), and then had the stupidity to suggest that surely Lanza’s rumored “anti-social” personality is sufficient to put him on a background-check black-list! O’Reilly quipped that such criteria would disqualify most people on TV, then smiled brightly and thanked the guest for sharing his point of view and the “very interesting discussion.” So this is what passes for Fair and Balanced, quality discussion? Or rather, is this why Bill O’Reilly thinks his news program – and especially his part in it – is so special?
Another guest, Mary Katherine Ham, took the “there’s nothing we can really do about it,” position and “evil simply exists,” and offered what she thought was sharp, open-minded commentary by stating merely that no one had offered any solutions that would have actually prevented this tragedy, so I sent Bill an email outlining my proposal in much briefer form:
Well, here’s how you prevent it. We implemented safety standards in cars and we need to do the same with guns.
The key thing we need to do is prevent guns from being fired in certain circumstances and contexts. Guns have “safety” switches already, and we all know that every gun should also have a trigger lock to prevent unauthorized use, especially by kids.
We need to integrate the two things, and since there are so many guns out there already, we have to mandate that all older guns get retrofitted with a “smart” trigger lock/safety mechanism.
These days even our cell phones have “unlock” codes and they self-lock after 10 or so minutes of disuse. We can afford to have our guns do the same thing, using tamper-resistant, tamper-evident, and even tamper-reporting, metal-embedded RFID chips in every gun, that both identify – and “advertise” via passive radio signals – the type of gun and it’s serial number. The trigger-lock/safety would use a 3-digit numeric code to be unlocked and gun owners could setup multiple codes for each potential user of the gun, such that the gun can only ever be used by authorized users.
The gun would send a weak radio signal anytime it is unlocked, giving law enforcement a means for getting a heads-up anytime a firearm is unlocked nearby. Guns would store the timestamps of recent unlocks and shots fired. The trigger-lock/safety could also be remotely activated by law enforcement. Buildings that restrict concealed firearms could now simply put up RFID readers at their entrances and/or premises and issue an audible alert when a gun enters the premises.
To prevent school shootings, the school premises would be lined with such firearm RFID readers. Any firearm entering the premises and not associated wtih local law enforcement would trigger an immediate 911 call and a “lock-down” alarm within the school. With luck, the shooter would be obstructed from entry long enough for law enforcement to arrive. But future shooters would simply know that unless they make their own (illegal) un-safetied firearm, attempting a suicidal mass shooting at any school or other public location (airports, malls, concerts, etc…) they would fail. They will be forced to make other, less easy to execute plans.
Of course, we need to also address mental health. Unfortunately, mental health – especially suicidal depression – is not something it’s sufferer’s can be expected to take “personal responsibility” for and seek treatment at their own cost. We need to make this kind of care more or less free, especially since all-too-often, getting the person on the right medication prevents – or at least moderates – episodes of impulsiveness / insanity that lead to suicidal shootings. I have ADD and have seen that my medication helps me control the impulsive thinking that can sometimes arise in ADD. ADD often masquerades as Asperger’s or some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is often co-morbid with them, and It is entirely possible that this shooter was simply going through an episode of impulsivity combined with a does of early-20s nihilism – and if he’d gotten diagnosed and had the medication, the shooting never would have happened. Or not. But surely this has caused some mass shootings in the past and will in the future.
Thanks for reading.