Michael Xavier Johnson wanted to kill white people. Omar Mateen wanted to kill gay people. Dylann Roof wanted to kill black people.
How can we prevent this kind of hate?
After the tragedy in Dallas in which five police officers lost their lives, President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus predictably called for more gun control. Never mind that the shooter, Michael Xavier Johnson, was an Army Veteran with no criminal record. He would have passed any background check imaginable. Obama made the same call for increased gun restrictions after Orlando. But shooter Omar Mateen was a professional security guard who also passed a background check.
On paper, Johnson and Mateen might even appear to be exemplary gun owners, given their extensive training with firearms.
Dylann Roof was an exception, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrisey noted in a post about how Obama’s gun proposals wouldn’t have prevented the majority of mass shooters from obtaining their weapons, “The only shooting that might have been prevented by federal action should have been stopped anyway. Dylann Roof had a drug arrest on his record, which should have flagged his application to purchase a firearm, but a records screw-up allowed Roof to buy his weapon — and Obama’s proposals wouldn’t have changed that, either.”
And this is assuming Roof wouldn’t have attempted to get his hand on a gun illegally.
As Criminology Professor James Alan Fox wrote at USA Today, “Had Roof been denied the gun purchase, there would have been many other avenues for him to beg, borrow or steal the firepower he desired.”
“Mass killers are determined, deliberate and dead set on murder,” Fox said. “They plan methodically to execute their victims, finding the means no matter what laws or other impediments the government attempts to place in their way.
“For them, the will to kill cannot be denied.”
After the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump doubled down on his call to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States. This wouldn’t have stopped Omar Mateen who was a U.S. citizen or any other homegrown “lone wolf” that has become an increasing focus for authorities.
Trump, Senator Marco Rubio and other Republicans have also called for increased surveillance of mosques, and any places radicals are “inspired,” to use Rubio’s language. Senator Ted Cruz wants police patrolling Muslim neighborhoods. All of this would violate Muslim Americans’ most basic rights.
And why stop with Islam?
Why not monitor Black Lives Matters meetings to see if there are any potential Michael Xavier Johnsons lurking around? How about heavy surveillance of conservative groups to see if there are any potential white supremacists like Dylann Roof among them?
This kind of partisan demonizing and finger pointing is not new. Two decades ago, the left was blaming Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing on conservatives.
People love to appropriate atrocities carried out by extremists of all stripes for their own agenda — especially politicians.
I wouldn’t put it past a Democrat or Republican administration, if there was enough public fear to make it possible, to abuse the rights of any group of Americans in ways that would betray our most basic concepts of freedom.
So how do you stop poisonous killers like Johnson, Mateen and Roof? There’s no easy answer. Certainly not simply piling on new laws every time there’s a tragedy.
We could have a completely totalitarian society and still wouldn’t prevent these kinds of tragedies. Freedom assumes a certain level of risk.
Calls to stop “hate” or for better understanding often come across as naïve or simplistic to many across the ideological spectrum eager for legislative action. But personal solutions—intimate and caring friends-and-family based attention paid to those with mental or emotional problems—will always go farther in preventing future monsters than any law ever will.