ON Kilter: Let’s look at the signs, not the symptoms in these shooting sprees

OPINION – Columbine. Virginia Tech. Phoenix. Aurora. Now an elementary school in a small Connecticut town joins a somber list in what is now becoming a common place statistic in our culture.

The bodies of some twenty grade school children and their noble educators and defenders were still warm when the polarized and entrenched camps of the mighty gun debate began to saturate our ears to get their points heard as if we had not already memorized them. These regurgitations of the painfully belabored obvious seemed more callous than morose. They are symptomatic of a comfortable numbness we are collectively beginning to show.

This was not only a mass shooting contrived and executed by a deranged man, this was a senseless murder of babies and innocents.

The readiness and willingness to go to the mats in defense of political agendas serve to exacerbate our condition as a society.

We are sick.

But much like we treat so many of our illnesses today, with medications designed to abate the symptoms of our induced illnesses rather than treat the actual illness itself, we find ourselves seemingly oblivious to the notion that a sickness is what is behind the symptoms of a progressing epidemic in our society.

Guns don’t kill people, people do.

I get it.

If there were tougher laws on guns this may have been prevented.

I get it.

What is problematic here perhaps is that this is the same argument had after every mass shooting and it is not solving the problem. In fact, the incidence of these shooting sprees is getting worse.

By virtue of the fact that we in the press give notoriety to the shooters and the crimes by reporting things – like statistics indicating the ranking of the latest incident (Connecticut second worst in U.S.), and diving intricately into the background of the criminal, (can anyone name one victim from each of the five shootings listed in this article?) – we almost assure that the next deranged maniac with access to any weaponry will try to top the last.

While I do not claim to have a definitive answer I do have an idea of what we may be doing wrong; let me illustrate by analogy:

I had a severe succession of headaches. At first, I took a few ibuprofens to no avail. Then a family member offered me one of their prescription meds for migraine headaches. As bad as my head hurt, I did not want the med because I knew it would only mask the problem. I wanted to know what was causing the headaches.

Turns out, my old stove was leaking gas and the headaches were symptomatic of carbon monoxide poisoning. Imagine if I had persisted on a path of masking the pain with a medication instead of reducing by way of repairing a leak, the amount of gas I was breathing.?

Do you follow?

The problem may or may not be guns.

I want to be clear here.

I am a staunch advocate of our civil liberties and have defended them in earnest through military and civil service, and now through journalistic prose to raise awareness in you the readers.

And, as a firearm owner myself, I fully recognize that the right to have and bear arms does not facilitate, in and of itself, the immense responsibility that comes along with doing so. Some people who have the right to a firearm might still not be ready to own one.

Let’s consider the possibility that these are valid discussions that need to be altogether separate from the one we are having about how to address these shootings. These shootings are now frequent enough to show a pattern and there is more to discuss than just guns.

One common denominator in all of them is mental illness and behavioral modification.

Doesn’t a reasonable discussion on the matter necessitate a “meaningful dialogue” that considers the actual forebodings of the problem?

These were people’s children. These were your children. These were my children.

We cannot solve this problem from the state of mind we were in when we created it.

While I understand the advocacy groups on both sides of the gun-control debate are seizing the political opportunity these incidents invariably bring, it is glaringly apparent these debates do little or nothing to address the problems of the “how and why” these shooters are doing what they are doing. It is a discussion worth having I think.

See you out there.


Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.


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