Editorial: Digging down to the cause

After church shooting, railing against symptoms isn’t the answer

When curing a disease, would you strive to wipe out the symptoms or the cause?

 

The cause, of course.

But those causes can be very difficult to get at. That’s especially true when you try to wrap your mind around the “disease” of mass killings that has fractured our country.

Barely two days ago, on a sunny Sunday morning in tiny Sutherland Springs, Texas, a twisted monster sprayed gunfire inside the town’s First Baptist Church during a worship service. Twenty-six people died. At least another 20 were injured. And every last resident of the community is now – emotionally if not physically – scarred.

The horrific incident was, by practically any measure of the word, unpredictable.

What was predictable was the knee-jerk response from Democrats.

As reliably as a sunrise, they went right after the symptom – guns – and ignored the harder-to-get-at underlying causes of mass killings. The causes include religious or anti-religious hatred; racism; and the breakdown of morals, family and parenting.

We also have failed utterly to deal with mental illness post-deinstitutionalization.

It’s so much easier to demagogue than to come to grips with destructive forces that the dominant culture actually has been promoting for generations now. You don’t score political points by honest self-reflection.

Democrats also are crying out for harsher gun laws. If only we could ask Devin Patrick Kelley – who police identified as the attacker – what he thinks about gun laws. But he was found dead in his vehicle, after residents pursued Kelley as he fled.

Officers found two handguns in his vehicle, and at the scene of the shooting recovered the rifle the shooter used.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said Kelley sought a license to carry a concealed gun in Texas but was rejected.

This page and many, many other people have said this repeatedly: Gun laws cover only those citizens willing to abide by them. No gun law on the books would’ve absolutely protected the innocent worshippers at Sutherland Springs First Baptist from their deadly attacker.

The portrait of Kelley taking shape shows a man drummed out of the Air Force in 2014 on a bad-conduct discharge, serving a year in military jail on charges of assaulting his wife and child. Acquaintances recently described him as an “outcast” who often picked fights over social media.

Kelley’s former in-laws attended the church he attacked, but weren’t there Sunday. Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said Kelley sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, but it wasn’t immediately clear if that mother-in-law was the former in-law.

And in Kelley’s wake, survivors and shocked Americans are left to fathom the evil that had to be summoned to commit such a terrible crime.

It’s past time for this nation to determine what we can do to identify and meaningfully help the mentally fragile people who turn to guns – and knives, and explosives, and rented trucks – to sow the seeds of deadly violence.

 

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