by Peter Hanink
America witnessed one more mass taking pictures on Wednesday, Oct. 25, this time within the small metropolis of Lewiston, Maine. Whereas folks had been shocked by the size and placement of the taking pictures — with 18 folks slain in a state with one the nation’s lowest murder charges — nobody was shocked that it occurred. Listening to how resigned commentators and politicians have change into about one more mass taking pictures emphasised one thing I’ve been pondering for some time: We’ve began treating mass shootings like pure disasters.
As a local Californian, I’m accustomed to this strategy. We develop up pondering of earthquakes as only a truth of life, harmful however unavoidable. Don’t get me flawed, we take earthquakes critically, however since there’s nothing we are able to do to stop them, we deal with getting ready for them. We strengthen our houses, inventory provides in our earthquake kits and educate our youngsters to “duck and canopy.”
As mass shootings have elevated in frequency and severity, we appear to have adopted an identical mindset. We will’t forestall them; we are able to solely put together for them. After the 1999 taking pictures at Columbine Excessive Faculty — the occasion that ushered within the fashionable period of mass shootings — we’ve got largely responded by treating mass shootings like earthquakes.
We strengthened our colleges by stationing useful resource officers on campus and putting in higher locks and stronger doorways. Impressed by the chorus that “the one factor that stops a nasty man with a gun is an efficient man with a gun,” politicians and pundits concluded that we should always develop concealed-carry licenses and arm academics. We put in extra cameras and steel detectors. We required college students to convey clear plastic backpacks. We began conducting lively shooter drills at our elementary colleges, which changed “duck and canopy” with “run, cover, battle.” We turned our colleges into fortresses and our youngsters into watchers on the wall.
And nonetheless mass shootings preserve taking place and we resign ourselves to the conclusion that we are able to solely put together for them. It is sensible. In some unspecified time in the future, the earth goes to quake, the twister goes to the touch down, the hurricane goes to make landfall, so it’s silly to fake it’s not going to occur and it’s good to arrange for the worst.
However are mass shootings actually like pure disasters?
A greater approach to consider them, actually, is like fires. In fact, we take fires critically and do quite a bit to arrange for them to cut back the harm they trigger. We set up smoke detectors and fireplace extinguishers, we rent firefighters and pay them to be on name, around the clock. We set up fireplace doorways, conduct fireplace drills and label evacuation routes. We require area between single household houses to restrict the possibility that fireside might unfold from one constructing to the subsequent. We require of us in fire-prone areas to “harden their houses” by creating “defensible area” and clearing out useless brush.
However we don’t cease there. We focus as properly on fireplace prevention. Native governments set up constructing codes regulating all the pieces from building supplies and constructing methods to wiring requirements. Even client items from fridges to robotic vacuums are inspected to be sure that they don’t pose fireplace hazards.
Specializing in prevention doesn’t cease us from getting ready for disasters, it simply makes them much less probably. We will and will do the identical for mass shootings. Frequent sense and extensively supported reforms resembling instituting background checks and purple flag lists for folks with histories of violence; eliminating loopholes that enable for unregulated firearms gross sales at gun reveals; decreasing journal capability; proscribing “ghost weapons”; and banning the overall sale of military-style rifles, such because the AR-15, will make it tougher for “dangerous guys” to get weapons and can forestall a whole bunch, if not hundreds, of deaths yearly.
If it had been sufficient to easily have extra good guys with weapons, the truth that there are extra weapons than folks within the U.S. ought to have decreased the variety of mass shootings. As a substitute, we’ve got greater than ever. We should do higher.