PI Editorial: It’s up to us, collectively, to stop the cycle of senseless shootings
Editor’s note: This has been updated to correct the number of firearms currently in the United States.
What a tragic and demoralizing sign of “back to normal.”
How else can one consider the mass shooting in Boulder on March 22 where a man shot and killed 10 people going about their everyday lives?
For reasons entirely unknown to us, the pandemic seemingly offered a respite from the grim cycle of mass shootings we’ve grown dangerously accustomed to in the United States.
Now, when we have more reason than ever to be optimistic about an end to the pandemic, it appears we’ve wasted no time getting back to scenes of senseless violence.
Why does common sense continue to elude us?
Every time a spasm of violence like this occurs, we immediately fall into the same patterns.
“Now is the time for more gun laws.”
“We don’t need more gun laws, we need more people with guns.”
Yet we can’t afford to fall into our comfortable camps of thought.
Whatever we decide as a state or nation on gun laws, it won’t change three key truths:
1. There are 393 million gun in the United States. While the number and type of firearms varies greatly from person to person, any new law passed is highly unlikely to significantly reduce that number anytime soon.
2. We have conditions in our society that make it far, far too easy for people to dehumanize others. How did we get so glib about the killing of our friends, family and neighbors?
3. We have to stop the cycle of killing. *We* have to stop the cycle of killing.
How we accomplish that will always be a matter of debate, but long-term we think there’s a need for both political and cultural solutions. The solution is unlikely to be as simple as banning this or that gun or magazine types. For example, Colorado has restricted the sale of firearm magazines to those which carry 15 rounds or fewer. Yet they can still be purchased throughout the state in disassembled kits (https://www.9news.com/overloaded).
No matter what laws are passed, they are unlikely to do enough by themselves to curb these spasms of senseless violence.
We need to do something as a nation that makes it more difficult to see other people as anything less than our fellow human beings — who deserve compassion, understanding and love. Cultural pressure is not always a bad thing, and in this case could be helpful. There are many people in life who’ve been tempted to do grave ill, yet did not do so for fear of letting down family, friends, religious leaders and more. Let’s put pressure on ourselves and each other to push through argument, disagreement and vitriol to see each other for who we are: people deserving of kindness and respect.
We also need to empower those organizations who are doing invaluable work to make sure people in crisis or approaching crisis receive the help they need before they do something senseless.
That’s where innovations such as Mind Springs Health’s Mobile Recovery Team can play a crucial role. As reported last week in the March 24 Post Independent, the recovery team can “provide immediate assistance to people in crisis due to substance abuse. That can include getting them connected to treatment services, as well as housing, food and employment assistance.”
It’s important to note that the vast majority of people in mental crisis are neither a danger to themselves nor others, but the sooner we can connect people with the help they need the better outcomes there are for everyone — for the individual, for their community and for society.
As we seek to stop future tragedies from happening, we should strongly consider how we can do more to get people the help they need, whenever and wherever that might be.
We can help with this by advocating for and prioritizing strengthening our social services and mental health care providers — talk with our elected officials, volunteer for help lines, donate or find other ways to be involved.
A personal commitment to do whatever we can to stop the cycle of violence is the best way we can honor the lives of the 10 people killed in Boulder last week. They — and the victims that preceded them — deserve nothing less from us.
The Post Independent Editorial Board consists of Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann and Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud.
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