A common denominator in the rash of mass shootings over the last few years is not just guns but the alienation of “disturbed young men,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) argued in an editorial Sunday.
In the aftermath of last weekend’s shootings in El Paso and Dayton, it is easy to place the blame on access to firearms or a caustic political environment, rather than focus on what kind of people are responsible for mass shootings, the WSJ editorial board contends.
Regardless of what political sphere these lone gunmen operate within, their lives are often characterized by isolation and a lack of a social cocoon outside of government. (RELATED: 20 People Dead In El Paso Shooting, Governor Says)
“This is one price we are paying for the decline in what the late sociologist Peter Berger called the ‘mediating institutions’ that help individuals form cultural and social attachments. These are churches, business and social clubs like the Rotary, charitable groups, even bowling leagues, and especially the family. Government programs can never replace these as protectors of troubled young people,” the editorial states.
“Recognizing this reality is not a counsel of despair to do nothing about mass shootings. But revitalizing these private institutions of social capital is crucial to reversing the cultural decline at the root of so many of America’s ills.”
These killers, who often write ‘manifestos‘ that are frequently summaries of their own frustrations, are often people whose reality is almost completely defined by their online reading and correspondence and not by human interaction. (RELATED: Dayton Shooter Expelled Over Violent Fantasies – His Own Sister Was One Of His Victims)
“It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe,” the editorial notes.
The WSJ urges President Donald Trump to rise above the accusations and counter-accusations and eschew “the divisive tone of his public rhetoric. He should separate himself forcefully and consistently from alt-right and white-supremacy voices.”
The editorial board says the choice for the president is simple: “Either Mr. Trump restrains his rhetoric or he will pay a consequential political price. Joe Biden’s theme of a return to ‘decency’ and ‘normalcy’ will resonate with even millions of Trump voters if Mr. Trump doesn’t change.”
The editors suggest that America needs to pay more attention to mental illness, and that the right to keep and bear arms should not be granted to those struggling with a mental illness. They state that even though progressives will always use the occurrence of a mass shooting to advocate for draconian gun laws, there is a need for a greater balance between defending the liberties of gun owners and preventing mass shootings.
“Gun rights need to be protected, but the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact.”