Mass shootings: Don't confuse madness with evil

After the evil perpetuated at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in a column entitled "Don't Surrender to Do-Somethingism on Guns," David Harsanyi at The Federalist is mostly correct when he writes, "Law-abiding Americans have no obligation to take ownership of a madman's actions."  The only thing I take issue with in Mr. Harsanyi's piece is his referring to the Uvalde mass murderer as a "madman."

When such events occur, we must be careful not to confuse evil with mental illness.  "Madman" doesn't necessarily always refer to someone who is mentally ill.  However, inevitably — even among those who should know better — whenever we have a mass shooting, a frequent and near immediate default assumption is that the perpetrator was mentally ill.  Perhaps the Robb Elementary School murderer was mentally ill, but we don't yet know that, and early indications are that he did not have a history involving mental illness.

What's more, ascribing mental illness to the Robb Elementary murderer doesn't help Mr. Harsanyi's case.  If someone who kills another human being is "mentally ill," then it means something should have or could have been done to cure him or protect others from him.  As I noted in 2018 (see above link), after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, FL:

As our culture grows more and more secularized, it has become a very common practice to describe those who commit widespread acts of violence—especially if such violence involves the death of multiple human beings—as "crazy." Some of this is tongue-in-cheek, but much of it is sincere. I believe this is the direct result of the psychiatric community attempting to redefine what is moral.

For decades we have witnessed the psychiatric community take acts that were long considered evil, or at least immoral and illegal, and deem them a "psychological disorder" that needs to be cured. It's just good for business, I suppose.

In his essay "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," C.S. Lewis noted that, when it comes to crime and punishment, we too often are facing off with those who believe "that all crime is more or less pathological."  Thus, instead of the criminal "getting what he deserves" — what used to be called "justice" — we must heal or cure him, and, as Lewis puts it, "punishment becomes therapeutic."

Additionally, when we refuse to simply call evil what it is, lawmakers — especially, but not exclusively, Democrats — feel emboldened to "do something" to "fix" the problem.  After all, when politicians can paint themselves as part of "the solution," it makes re-election more likely.  If we learned anything from COVID-19, this should have been the lesson!

If so many Americans weren't susceptible to "do-somethingism," the left wouldn't continuously try — and often succeed with — it.  And if leftists can't accomplish their do-something wish list via legislation or executive order, they have often been able to rely on like-minded judges in U.S. courts.  Tragically, many Americans simply want to be mothered, and the left is only too happy to play such a role.

The left's "do-somethingism" on COVID-19 has destroyed countless lives and livelihoods.  The damage is still being measured, and worse, still happening!  If the American left can "do something" to get rid of guns (or ammunition) in the U.S., it absolutely will.  As numerous nations have proved, America has remained America largely because of the Second Amendment.

Recently, the idea that America needs to be "fundamentally transformed" has reached the highest levels of the left.  The quickest way for this to happen would be to take guns from law-abiding Americans.  We largely surrendered to "do-somethingism" on COVID.  We should never make that mistake with guns.

Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of The Miracle and Magnificence of America.

Image via Pexels.

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