Stricter, “common sense” gun control is a must, but it won’t end public violence. As I said in a piece earlier this month, there is no easy answer to ending mass killings, and we need to stop pretending like there is if we truly want an answer. The recent bombings in Austin are reminder of this, and they won’t be the last.
There have been four bombings in Austin, Texas, and one additional bomb headed to Austin from nearby San Antonio, in the past month. Residents in Austin have at times been asked by authorities to remain in their houses. Terror is descending upon the city, and everyone is a potential target. Random civilians are being killed on the sidewalks. There is no legislating our way out of this dilemma.
It is true that the bombings have not tallied even a fraction of the deaths that automatic firearms have in some recent mass shooting incidents. Is that really how we want to quantify this, though? I can’t imagine that a bombing seems less significant to the family of a victim simply because there weren’t more lives lost at the same time. Automatic and semi-automatic firearms do make killing too easy, too convenient, and too efficient. However, they are not the root of the problem, nor is eliminating them a sufficient solution.
In some ways, bombings are more terrifying. There is the uncertainty of the timing of the explosion. There’s also the element of the absence of the killer. Bombings are more difficult to see coming. The bomber is more difficult to stop. Shooters usually either do not survive the shooting or are quickly apprehended. A bomber can be fashioning his next bomb as he watches while the havoc created by his previous bomb unfolds on television.
The current bombings in Austin, the Ted Kaczynski bombings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and even the anthrax scare of the 2001, all suggest one thing: both sides of the control controversy are focused on the wrong thing. Stricter controls on firearms and more thorough background checks for firearm purchases are not going to save your children from activating a tripwire on their way to school. Armed teachers and school security guards can’t shoot their way out of pipe bomb explosion.
We can’t ban pipes and packages because they may be dangerous. We can’t forfeit automobile travel because someone may run one into a crowd or into a building. We also can’t be unerringly vigilant, constantly armed, and expertly trained. We’re not even having the right conversations.
As I mentioned in my previous article, the more time we spend distracted by the indirectly related political debate, the more time we spend vulnerable to the actual threat. We need to but politics and amendment agendas aside and begin discussing the more complex topics that actually result in public acts of violence. We need to address mental health. We need to address dissent. We need to address dysphoria. We need to address disconnection.
These are not easy topics to tackle. This is not going to be as quick and clean as passing a bill that outlaws bump stocks. Unfortunately, it is an undeniable reality. We have to stop trying to prevent the results of mass violence while ignore the difficult, complicated organic causes. It’s not going to be an easy road, folks, the quicker we get started on it, the fewer innocent people we end up losing.