Shootings reflect true evil

July 27, 2012


By now the script should be familiar. A bombing or a mass shooting occurs and the media immediately look for a simple cause. Invariably, they turn to talk radio or some other conservative pit of “intolerance.”

Within recent memory are tragedies like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1999 massacre at Columbine, the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson. Some politicians and liberal interest groups have sought to link these and other violent incidents to the far right. There have also been incidents when some conservatives have tried to blame other tragedies on “liberals” “secularists” and abortion.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote on his blog that the “hate-mongers” Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck contributed to the Giffords shooting, despite later reports that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, had never listened to their programs. The discovery that Loughner liked “The Communist Manifesto” and “Mein Kampf” forced media types to quickly abandon that smear, but not retract their comments. They’re running the same play again.

Within hours of the massacre of 12 people and the wounding of dozens more in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Brian Ross, an “investigative reporter” for ABC News rushed on the air to say that he had found a name similar to that of the alleged shooter and that the Jim Holmes he had discovered with a quick Internet search was (gasp!) listed as a member of the tea party movement. In Ross’ mind, as well as that of other “journalists,” apparently, tea party equals guns, equals extremist, end of discussion. ABC and Ross later issued a limp apology, but the bias was exposed.

Ross was not alone in his rush to misjudgment. The New York Times sought the opinion of film critic Roger Ebert, who predictably argued for more gun control laws even while diagnosing the alleged shooter as “insane.” How would more laws force an “insane” individual to act sanely and obey them, especially when that person is intent on committing murder?

The National Rifle Association, predictably, was denounced on MSNBC and in the Daily Kos, but the left’s real endgame was expressed in a recent letter to the editor in The New York Times by Ellyn S. Roth, New York City: “What is it going to take to get rid of the handguns in this country?”

Our government is unlikely to confiscate every gun in America in violation not only of the Second Amendment, but also common sense.

What is always left out of this familiar scenario is an in-depth discussion of evil. Politicians and commentators almost never speak of evil as something that resides deep inside the human heart. All humans possess the capacity for evil. While it rarely rises to the level of mass murder, the capacity for doing great harm to other human beings lurks within each of us. This is what theologians mean when they speak of a “fallen” humanity.

Would an armed guard at the theater have helped stem the carnage? No one can say. The guard might have been the first one shot. Some have suggested that at least one armed movie patron could have stopped the shooter. That also is difficult to say. In a darkened theater, a gunfight might have killed just as many, or more.

Sometimes there are no “solutions” that can forestall an evil act. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney set the right tone, asking for prayers for the victims and their families. Calling on that Higher Authority is the proper and perhaps only counterforce to this and other expressions of true evil.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


observant 5 years, 7 months ago

Saw headline, assumed Cal was finally going to tell truth about NRA. Read first sentence, realized just more of his usual crap. Didn't read any further.

observant 5 years, 7 months ago

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DillonBarnes 5 years, 7 months ago

You just cannot accept that there are people who aren't Christian, aren't conservative, and don't watch Faux news that still stand up for gun rights.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

We can't discuss how the unlimited availability of high-powered weapons and ammunition to the criminally insane enables attacks such as this, but Cal has no problem blaming it on the superstitious notion of "evil."

funkdog1 5 years, 7 months ago

We also apparently can't discuss the fact that mental illness is real. It's not "the devil" or "demon possession." We've basically completely eliminated treatment for the mentally ill in this country and it's going to continue to bite us in the ass again and again and again.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm tired of hearing about our 2nd Amendment rights. Our forefathers had the foresight to know that their way of life would be constantly changing and made it possible to change each and every amendment.We got past Black folks being 3/5 human, can we PLEASE get rid of assault weapons.Some weapons should be reserved for military only.

mom_of_three 5 years, 7 months ago

Um, the 2nd amendment says nothing about protecting themselves against the government military.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Liberty, do you think citizens should have anti-aircraft guns and tactile nuclear weapons? I mean, if we are to protect ourselves against our military, isn't this the level of firepower needed?

Sorry, but our military is our well-armed militia. Thinking citizens should have the weapons to take on our own military is beyond irresponsible.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

You are advocating for citizens to have enough firepower to fight our military -- not just any military, but the miliary of the United States -- and you have the gall to call me naive? Wow.

Brock Masters 5 years, 6 months ago

Bea you repeat the same point frequently. It is not valid and not effective. When I hear or read it this is what I am reminded of.

Same sex marriage should be legal. Oh great and should people be allowed to marry dogs too?

Like the same sex marriage opponents you're trying to discredit the right of gun ownership by trying to tie it to something ridiculous.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

However, I am not trying to discredit the right to gun ownership. The 2nd has been upheld by the Supreme Court and I believe people have the right to own guns for protection. However, I am saying that there are limits and that discussing what limits should be considered reasonable is far removed from an out and out ban on guns.

Do you not think there are limits that should be placed on the types of weapons people should have available for their homes?

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like posse comitatas thinking to me.

DillonBarnes 5 years, 7 months ago

There are very few assault weapons in public circulation, you have to have a class 3 FFL License. None of the mass shootings, that come to mind, used an assault weapon.

Brock Masters 5 years, 6 months ago

no problem. Just amend the 2nd amendment. Until then it is the law of the land.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe there are other countries with higher rates of gun ownership. Other than that, good post.

RoeDapple 5 years, 7 months ago

Guns per 100 residents; USA - 88.8/100, Serbia - 58.2/100, Yemen - 54.8/100, Switzerland - 45.7/100, Cyprus - 36.4/100

Those are the top 5

Stuart Evans 5 years, 7 months ago

I sense that this is misleading though, because not all Americans own guns, not even 88.8% of us own guns. I'd wager that it's in the 20-40% range, and that those folks own multiple weapons.

RoeDapple 5 years, 7 months ago

These are guns listed per hundred people. Approximately 28 per 100 own approximately 89 guns in the US

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

That's hardly valid. Gun nuts like guns, and they buy more than one or two. I've started collecting guitars. I have five and soon six. That doesn't mean I'm going to be a rock star. Same with guys that like guns.

RoeDapple 5 years, 7 months ago

I reserve the term "Gun Nut" for those who are opposed to the legal ownership of firearms by the 80,000,000 "Weapons Enthusiasts" in the United States who do NOT commit acts of terror, who are NOT mentally unstable, who do NOT shoot innocent people.

RoeDapple 5 years, 7 months ago

Ah, selective reading comprehension. How very un-observant of you.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

How about showing the respect you ask of others and not use the term "gun nut" for anyone?

funkdog1 5 years, 7 months ago

But there are "gun nuts" in this country. There are responsible weapons owners and then there are gun nuts. Two completely different animals.

gphawk89 5 years, 7 months ago

Agreed. The "Weapons Enthusiasts" would be "Gun Nuts" only if they constantly whined about folks NOT owning guns and constantly pushed for legislation mandating gun ownership for everyone. But they don't. I'm a "Weapons Enthusiast" and couldn't care less whether anyone else owns a gun or how many they own. None of my business. And whether or not I legally own one or a dozen guns or high-capacity magazines or suppressors or whatever else should be of no concern to anyone but me.

Anthony Mall 5 years, 7 months ago

Why is it people have to find someone or something to blame for a tragedy??? If this kid was from the middle east it would be terrorism and we would be looking at how he got here... If he were black it would be gang related and we would be blaming "the hood"... Why can't this just be a sick kid who snapped??? It makes small minded people more comfortable to put blame on guns, pills, or the parents... This kid was just sick and he snapped!!! It is a horrible tragedy but sadly the blame stops on him and him alone!!!

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

Going door to door asking for guns would be the quickest route to uniting the left and right in this country, and starting a civil war. They will never come for the guns here in the good ol' USA (period).

MarcoPogo 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm picturing an Avon Lady with a sidearm.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Well then, since I've not seen a single person advocating for the ATF to go door to door confiscating guns and ammo, I guess we have no "evil people" visiting this sight.

Thanks for the Chicken Little impersonation, however.

somedude20 5 years, 7 months ago

well said. you make too much sence to be posting on these boards.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

In the last five years 231,000 people have been killed in automobile accidents in the USA. The odds are far greater that you will be killed today in a car crash instead of by firearm. Where is the outcry for increased controls and bannination? We must keep everyone safe from the evil car nuts! They have extended range fuel tanks! Guess what, no one escapes death. So, everybody relax and enjoy this life while you can. Be safe! Wear your seatbelts! http://i.imgur.com/E298u.gif

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Despite a larger population and more people driving, there are far fewer automobile deaths now than in decades past. Why? Because of regulations to make vehicles safer -- air bags, seat belts, public awareness, seat belt laws, etc...

Yet Thomas's commentary insists that nothing can be done and that no form of regulation can help lower the number of gun deaths in America. I say hogwash! More can be done, and everything short of banning guns outright should be on the table for discussion. (Supreme Court has ruled on the 2nd, and people do have the right to own a firearm to protect their home.) This might even mean advocating for a national standard for C&C owners. This might mean no denying carrying by trained individuals in many places currently banned, just as it might mean limits on ammo, clip and magazine sizes. It certainly should be open for discussion, in part because the piecemeal laws now in place are ridiculous.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

No law is going to stop a criminal or crazy person from killing if that's what they intend to do.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

True, but laws can help prevent the amount of killing they can do by limiting the level of military might they have at their disposal.

tbaker 5 years, 7 months ago

Chicago has some of the toughest firearm laws in the country. They've had over 250 murders so far this year. You would be safer in Kabul.

Norway has some of the toughest firearm laws in Europe. Some nut bag killed 77 people in a mass shooting there.

Gun control only controls the law-abiding gun owner, not criminals / psycho maniacs.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

And I would argue that have laws in a city that aren't the same in nearby areas is like having a smoking section in an airplane.

If gun control -- meaning limitis of any kind on guns -- only stop the law-abiding, then where do you draw the line? This is an extreme example, I know, but if someone wants an anti-aircraft gun in their home for protection, should they be allowed? If someone wants to protect their home with something that fires 1000 shots a minute, would you be okay with that? At what point does gun ownership cross the line to become military-strength arms?

Sorry, but if you make it impossible for people to purchase military weapons, then even psycho killers will have a very difficult time purchase them. Make them available at every gun show, however, and guess what, every psycho killer has the ability to purchase weapons of mass murder. There is somewhere in between, don't you think?

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

People can purchase military grade weaponry such as anti-aircraft weaponry and mini-guns right now. The Joker didn't use rifle in his killing spree.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

I meant to say "assault rifle" as in fully automatic. He used a varmint rifle dressed up to resemble an assault rifle.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

Military grade weaponry, owned by citizens of the USA, in action:

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and there is also a far great chance I will be able to drive my car to work today than I will be able to get there on a gun. Let us not forget the utilitarian function of an automobile.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 7 months ago

But I thought we were discussing saving people's lives, not utilitarian function. We have to protect people from the death and guuuuuunz! FYI: firearm deaths in the USA, per capita, have been in decline over the last 30 years (despite the increase in gun ownership).

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

We are talking about everything. Cars have a utilitarian function, and when they are used incorrectly they can kill people. Guns have a utlitarian function, and when they are used correctly they can kill people. It is all worth discussing.

And in discussing we can start from the point of conversation that the banning of guns isn't in the offering. People who would want to go that route lost the argument a long time ago.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 7 months ago

What did OKC bomber, Gabby Gifford shooter, Columbine kids and Aurora killer all have in common? None were convicted felons! Statistically, then, you are in greater danger amongst non-felons than felons. And KU refuses to hire the safer choice?

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

You have to admit Agno, it was pretty irresponsible of Ross to give sketchy background information on such a lack of information.

Then again, one journalist does something, and Cal lumps him in with "other 'journalists,'" which is almost as offensive. If he can't say who those other journalists are, then he shouldn't paint with such a broad brush.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Now this is worth repeating: ""Abortions per 100,000 women, not people, just per women is 2,000."

And abortions per 100,000 men, not people, just per men is 0.

I've read some funny things on here, but that one takes the cake.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Even my MONITOR started laughing at this train wreck of an attempted thread highjacking!

sleepy33 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, if only we could have another 1 million unwanted children added to the US population every year, THAT would sure improve things!

deec 5 years, 6 months ago

" Abortions per 100,000 women, not people, just per women is 2,000."

I think we may have a new winner for the dumbest thing ever written on these forums.

Jaded_one 5 years, 6 months ago

Romney and Obama are politicians trying to get elected. They are not going to say much to hurt their chances. As for praying to a "higher power", he/she is said to work in mysterious ways...good luck with that.

Kate Rogge 5 years, 6 months ago

Until we are willing to help those among us who are mentally ill, we will continue to put them and ourselves in harms way. Mental illness is not a choice. Those who cannot afford psychiatric treatment are condemned to lives of fear and desperation. Why do we turn away from helping them? Mentally ill people who hurt other people or others' property are put into prison, untreated, in numbers that far exceed their percentage of the general population. Mentally ill people need our compassion and our HELP. And that takes money and a commitment to providing them with effective and professional treatment, medication, and social services support. Why do we keep pretending that mental illness doesn't exist, or that families can somehow diagnose and treat a family member's mental illness on their own? So very cruel. Is there another illness that we pretend not to see and refuse to treat?

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

"Doesn't it make anyone wonder not only what happens to some one in psychotic episode.but WHY?"

I suppose it's horrible. Why? It's just neurons firing for the wrong reasons. He is defective.

(Kurt Cobain could have written a million seller with those lyrics)

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