“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Okay, I'll admit it right up front, the title is click bait. Nevertheless, I hope you will read on. I don't have a solution that will eliminate mass shootings any more than I have a solution to ending poverty...at least not in any realistic manner. Many have been making statements about the signs the most recent shooter gave ahead of time to indicate he might do something like this. Shouldn't we see this coming and do something about it ahead of time? Maybe, but there is something deeper.
Crime prevention is a dangerous business, not in the physical sense, but in the sense that we may end up punishing people for crimes they haven't committed. This reminds me of the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise. It is a movie worth watching and considering. There may well be more we can do to prevent crimes like this, but that can only go so far before people begin being punished for crimes they have not committed. For instance, if there is something we can do to track down the identity of people who make comments online like this most recent shooter did on Youtube that might help, but I'm not an expert in this area and I don't know what this would entail.
While I think there are real things we can do to limit this kind of thing, the more important difference we can make is on the cultural level. When we teach our children there is no objective morality, morals are really just preferences, and social contracts are all that determine right and wrong, you create an environment where crime is simply a disagreement with the social contract in play. Crime is bound to be taken less seriously by individuals who have bought into such an approach to morality.
Furthermore, the teaching that humans are simply an evolved animal perpetuates violent and harmful behaviors like mass shootings. If people are not created in the image of God and Godless evolution is true then Ted Bundy the brilliant but extremely evil serial killer who admitted to 36 murders of women was right to ask "What is the difference between killing a human and some other animal?" If people are soulless animals and morality is relative and can simply be boiled down to preference or social contract, then there is no reason to respect human life. The social elites, the tolerant, and others who promote such thought are shocked at such evil activity, but they lack the resolve to teach there is such a thing as good and evil.
It's not just views on morality and issues of evolution and God's design that make the difference, but that is the foundational place we should all start. There is more, kids need to be taught how to cope with difficult emotions and situations in life. They need to learn how to navigate loss, tragedy, and so on. We cannot save our children from discomfort. To do so is to create week minded people who give in to wrong emotions rather than fight them. We constantly tell our children to embrace their identity without challenging them to be something better than they are. This is most obviously seen in the area of sexual identity. Girls who see themselves as boy are now encouraged to "identify" as a boy instead of being challenged to reject wrong feelings and train their thoughts and affections to reflect the truth, they are, in fact, a girl. I know what I just said is politically incorrect, but I don't care, it needed to be said. We should not simply accept thought and emotions that don't reflect truth. Instead we should "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5-6). Instead of empowering kids to simply embrace every emotion and thought they have as their "authentic self" we ought to teach them that their authentic self is only found in recognizing they were created in the image of God, yet they are fallen people and so they must take every thought captive and reject that which does not reflect reality and only embrace that which is good, honorable, and godly.
There will be more school shootings and we can and should do things like making soft targets, like schools, hard targets, doing what is reasonable without infringing on people's rights to prevent crime, and a variety of other things; there is no answer that will have a long term impact apart from changing the manner in which we raise our children. We must reject relativistic teachings about morality, false teachings, like Darwinian evolution that result in humanity being nothing but evolved animals, and the embracing of all thought and emotion as one's authentic self. We must embrace the reality that people are made in the image of God, that He is the moral law giver, and our authentic self is the self not yet realized and it can only be realized fully in glory. Yet we strive to become authentically human and mitigate our fallenness in the here and now.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.