On school shootings


Ulf Åkesson via Pixabay

Collin Smith, Columnist

In politics there is too much of a focus on the momentary. This is especially true for progressives, who endlessly search for temporary fixes and bandaids. This is also true for conservatives, who rather than conserve what matters, end up fighting fruitlessly for the temporary. The proper focus in almost any circumstance, however, is the eternal, the lasting, the permanent—what the founding fathers called the self-evident, the natural laws, the universal independent rules discussed by thinkers ranging from Aristotle, to Aquinas, to Locke. My focus on the eternal isn’t to avoid the debates of the day, but rather to have a proper perspective when attempting to find what is true. The current debate surrounding gun ownership in the United States far too relies on the momentary, the intricate, and the easily manipulated circumstances.

This issue is also controlled by perspective. These perspectives define almost every political disagreement, the conservative perspective being one of pessimism and critical realism and the progressive being one of optimism and intricate utopianism. By this I mean, conservatives tend to view the world as a fallen entity, a corrupted land, while progressives view the world with its potential and success. I find myself thoroughly on the side of the conservatives for I recognize the fall of man, our far too bloody history—and in the case of the gun debate—the stark challenges to any meaningful, measurable, or positive progress in the United States.

The second amendment isn’t a mere remnant of misguided dead men; it is the enshrinement of the right to self defense—a right to not only defend one self when attacked, but also protect one’s other rights. Simply glance at the 20th century and one will come to understand liberty is at risk. Maybe not in this exact moment, but the danger is present.

  • It must be noted that my continued use of the word progressive as opposed to liberal is purposeful. Progressives are almost certainly not liberal in any sense of the word, and progressive does not to suggest positive progress, but any sort of progress, even if it is off a cliff.

This is not to say I don’t wish for a world without guns; that would be ideal—no guns, no weapons of mass destruction, and no tools which man thought little about before he created. See, it’s the problem of scant contemplation or dishonest thought that frightens me most with the gun debate. Those that cannot recognize the difference between a clip and a magazine, those who fail to understand the gravity of the right to self defense, those with malicious intent, and those who decry the blood of children to be on my hands for questioning gun control are those that make what ought to be an honest inquiry into a violent debate scare me the most. I’m distraught because the facts don’t matter anymore, the truth even less, because now simple appeals to emotion capture the largest audience.

What I desire most in this situation is to seek the eternal and to then cling to it. The most prominent conflict surrounds the right to life against the right to self defense. This, however, is a mismatch for what is portrayed at the surface and has a far deeper reality. Things like banning the malelovelently misnomered “assault rifles,” would do little to consult the core of any homicides (see suggested reading) and even less to face the cold reality of school shootings, a malevolence against humanity itself.

One must only look at the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and their writings to see this nihilism turned anti-humanism.

“The human race isn’t worth fighting for anymore. WWII was the last war worth fighting and was the last time human life and human brains did any good and made us proud. Now, with the government having scandals and conspiracies all over the ******* place and lying to everyone all the time and with worthless, pointless, mindless, disgraceful TV shows on and with everyone ob-*******-sessed with Hollywood and beauty and fame and glamour and politics and anything famous, people just aren’t worth saving.”

  • Eric Harris

This problem of school shootings cuts down to the core of our society. Nietzsche feared this rise of nihilism when he said,

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives.”

Kirkegaard also described this:

“For when all combine in every way to make everything easier and easier, the remains only one possible danger, namely, that the easiness might become so great that it would be too great; then only one want is left, though not yet a felt want – that people will want difficulty.”

This issue is far larger than just firearms. It is individuals, who are truly in hell, malevolently attacking humanity, playing the role of Cain. Governmental policy matters little to these people.

I can barely begin to sort out, provide policy prescriptions, or suggest anything meaningful to a problem this large. What I can do, as I have done, is search for what is true and how to reach it. One statistic in regards to school stood outright to me ever since I saw it: In the 27 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, 26 of the shooters grew up without a father. I cannot begin to say that fatherlessness causes shootings, but what I can say is that there is an important correlation here. This anti-humanism I discussed might be too big to handle right now, but what society can look at is this statistic—a first step to finding lost sheep. This statistic is not perfect nor certain, but it is compelling. I am not a psychologist, but I feel as though this is self evident: when these young boys commit horrendous acts because of extreme nihilism and anti-humanism, one must look at how they got there. One thing that is common among almost all of them is the lack of a father—a positive masculine figure to help a boy become a man and bear the burden of life.

This issue of shootings cannot be easily sorted out and I have only begun to see what comprises the issue. There are solutions to this problem, but they aren’t simple prescriptions, catchy slogans, or surface level debates. They are societal and lasting. If one wishes to solve the temporary, the only true way is to search for truth—the eternal—and once it is found, cling to it.  

Suggested reading for facts in the gun debate