It’s impossible to know what went through the head of Wade Michael Page before he walked into a place of worship on a Sunday morning and opened fire.
We may never know what incited him to cause such devastation, much like James Holmes or any of the other monsters around the world who take the lives of others in such a tragic way.
What has been particularly appalling to me over the last several weeks is the way our national dialogue has moved as a result.
Constitutional conservatives have done exactly what our soon-to-be-former president has accused them of doing in the past and clung to their guns.
On the other side are people who act like no one should have a gun ever, for any reason.
If you were on Twitter yesterday as a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was being shot up, you wept not only for the victims, but the culture of this country.
Among the prayers and sympathies were sarcastic comments about guns rights. There were glib comments about the Second Amendment and even shots at Governor Scott Walker.
This, frankly, is disgusting. People are dying, let’s wait and try to be clever or funny until that part of this is over.
Or maybe just keep your mouth shut.
The reality is this incident doesn’t make constitutionalists look very smart because of course, no one is bringing a gun to temple.
That being said, this deranged, borderline human, who perpetrated these acts wasn’t going to be stopped by a pesky gun law.
In 2005, before Wisconsin had a concealed carry law, a man walked into a hotel in Brookfield – just about a 20 minute drive from Oak Creek – and opened fire.
No law was going to stop this man.
The false analogies about, “Oh I wish mental health care were as easy to get as a gun,” are utterly incoherent.
Yes, of course we wish the people who need help could get it, but this guy could have. In fact, he worked in the army in the psychological unit.
This was a guy who understood mental illness. He didn’t believe he had one. Instead, he was a principled man, riddled with fear and hatred, an apparent white-supremacist.
Answering the questions about gun control are important and we do need to have the discussions about them. But you can’t, on one hand, tout the seriousness of guns and on the other be making a sarcastic joke while people are dying.
That’s not helpful.
We need to do something about the illegal guns coming into this country that help drug lords wage wars in the street. We need to make it harder for criminals and convicted felons to get guns.
But people like James Holmes and Wade Michael Page are going to pass whatever tests the government offers because, frankly, they’re outlying cases.
Our government can’t protect us from psychopaths like this because the average person, you and me, have the right to bear arms. We ought to.
They can, and do protect us from drug dealing-gang bangers by getting them off the streets. These are at-risk, recognized threats to society. People with criminal backgrounds and connections to organized crime. Those are the people police officers and the FBI et al can shield us from.
Your neighbor who goes to Gander Mountain and gets a gun only to one day snap, is an impossible case to prevent. Furthermore, there are literally millions of registered, legal, emotionally stable gun owners in the United States who follow the law, lock their guns, and are in no way a threat to their neighbors or anyone else.
Just as Second Amendment advocates can’t point to this temple shooting as a reason to have guns, their opposition can’t point to this horrific moment and say the opposite.