The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Shots Fired

Yesterday morning, a man in his early 40s visited our production and fulfillment facility in Deerfield Beach, FL. We're not a brick and mortar retail outlet, but he wanted to see some of our Tesla aftermarket products which we do have displayed in our entrance. He looked, we talked, and he left. Four hours later, his teenage daughter was hiding under a desk in a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classroom as an insane 19-year old open fire on ex-classmates and teachers. A student in her class was hit by gunfire. All of this occurred not more than 16 miles from our offices. Seventeen dead, many others wounded—it's a story that seems to repeat itself with frightening regularity.

Almost immediately, the media asked important but at the same time inane questions: Why did Nikolas Cruz (the shooter) kill random students and teachers? How could his apparently insane behavior, known to many, not have resulted in some mechanism for controlling him? How could he get a semi-automatic weapon? How can these tragic and violent events be stopped?

At the same time, politicians on both the Left and the Right leaped into the fray. On the Left, there were calls for "gun control." On the Right, there were calls for stricter oversight of troubled individuals along with warning that no gun control law could prevent this tragedy. Both arguments are disingenuous. Not all "crazy people"* are dangerous, but dangerous people are often crazy. Not all mass murders are perpetrated by people with semi-automatic weapons, but people with semi-automatic weapons are far more capable of committing mass murder that those with other weapons.

Here's what needs to happen, but won't.

1. Any person who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, has been prescribed anti-psychotic medication, or has been accused of a crime that has mental health overtones (e.g., violent spousal abuse, killing small animals) should be placed into a nationwide data base. That database should be developed using modern technology and should be integrated with other data bases that encompass know criminals and those on the terror watchlist. The combined database should be queried before every gun purchase. If the name of the purchaser is flagged, the sale cannot be finalized until detailed vetting (often by machine learning algorithms that can scan social media, do background checks, and otherwise lighten he burden on law enforcement) of the person occurs.

2. Semi-automatic weapons should be available to the public, but by special permit available only to those over 21 years of age. The permitting process would require a mental health evaluation and demonstration of appropriate training and safety knowledge. The permit would have to be renewed every two years. obviously the databases and vetting noted in item 1 would be used.

3. First-person shooter games should be carefully scrutinized by the mental health community to determine if the games are a trigger for unballanced individuals. Unlike violent movies, first-person shooter games allow active participation in violence and in my opinion, desensitize an unbalanced person to the carnage that results from a mass shooting. If such games are found to be dangerous to some, they should be banned or controlled rigorously. It is, I suspect, more than a simple coincidence that such games first became popular at about the same time that early school shootings began.

Of course, none of this will happen. The left will object because—metal health and privacy. The right will object because—2nd Amendment. The media industry will object because—censorship.. And the same important but inane questions will be asked over and over again.


* Please, spare me the politically correct nonsense, the word "crazy" seems perfectly appropriate in this context.