Mass murders perpetrated with rapid fire semi-automatic weapons are rare, but are becoming frighteningly more common. When such events occur many are killed quickly in events that usually appear to be well-planned. The assailants are often troubled, quiet, and sullen young men who have few if any friends and do not appear to fit into a defined social group. Many young men may fit this profile and may never go on to commit such unspeakable acts as have now observed in recent years with increasing regularity. In the wake of the most recent and tragic killings of 20 young children and six of their caretakers that have occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, the nation now seems committed to try to reduce if not eliminate such events. This will not be an easy task.
The approach that we must take should be to try reduce or eliminate as many of the contributing factors as we possibly can. When there is an extremely large and complex problem to solve, then the best approach may be to try to chip away at it, to define the contributing factors and deal with them one at a time.
The greatest problem may be the easy availability of rapid fire semiautomatic guns. We need to find a way to reduce their availability, or at least to eliminate them from public places. There are many approaches that can be taken. They can be banned outright or we can ban their manufacture within the boundaries of the U.S. Importing such weapons can also be prohibited by law. They can be restricted to use in gun clubs or in target practice ranges only. Carrying such guns and/or ammunition used for them near schools or near any public places can carry stiff fines or imprisonment. Ammunition or the guns themselves can be taxed at very high rates. Such guns should be eliminated from city streets. City dwellers may own them, but they should be used only outside city limits.
Violent movies on television or in movie houses featuring murder and mayhem should at least be properly rated. Video games, particularly those featuring the use of semiautomatic gun violence should not be available to the young or should be outlawed altogether. At the very least we may wish to give those who want to play such games simple psychological profile tests before and after using playing such games. Those young men particularly those who display sociopathic tendencies may be well-advised to stay away from such violent games. In addition, if some movies or video games are deemed excessively harmful or score excessively high in measures of violence, they should be taxed at very high levels.
We should make a better attempt to monitor the activities of young men and even young women who display sociopathic or at least antisocial tendencies. One should observe that these are widespread behaviors among youth in their teens. It is not a crime to be quiet, occasionally sullen or even not appear to fit very well into any social context. We don’t give these young people enough attention as it is. They call little attention to themselves, but are in the main perfectly capable human beings who would benefit from more social contact. This is a difficult problem to approach. Many young people who fall into this category need the space they seem to seek. We have to remember that they are easy to ignore as they seem to desire to stay to themselves. They may need that space to an extent, but they may also respond well to the light interest of others that can be increased in time.