Unfounded Assumptions

Hugh Hewitt writes, about the recent school shooting incident in northern Minnesota:

…[the] MSM is not distinguishing itself in this instance, and will again move past this terrible story without ever asking what has happened to youth culture in America that it turns out such killers.

Hugh is making a couple assumptions here for which he provides no basis. First, that these types of incidents are more prevalent today than they’ve been at various times in the past and, second, that they’re caused by something in “youth culture.”

Both may be true, but I’m not aware of any evidence for either. Does he have any data to indicate that mass shootings by young people are at some kind of all-time high, on a per capita basis, or are we just more aware of them, because of modern communications technology? If so, does he have any data to indicate that it’s caused by “youth culture,” as opposed to (for example) increases in psychoses due to environmental factors (e.g. Ritalin, or non-prescribed drugs), or increased availability of rapid-fire weaponry?

It’s not like this is a unique period in American history, after all. Remember Billy the Kid? And if this didn’t happen in the early nineteenth century, it wasn’t so much because it was discouraged by “youth culture” (to the limited degree that such a thing existed) so much as the fact that muzzle-loading muskets weren’t very handy tools for shooting and killing many people in a short period of time. It would actually be interesting to see how gang murder rates compare with, say, the range wars of the old west (which both have a lot of young shooters involved).

I’m not proposing gun control as a solution to this problem–Kliebold’s and Harris’ guns were “controlled” (which is to say illegal), after all. My point is that it’s very easy to simply say “O tempora, O mores!” when something like this happens, when the reality is that in a population of three hundred million people, sometimes a few of them out on the tail end of the bell curve are going to go nuts, pick up a gun, and shoot some folks. Short of a draconian reining in of our freedoms, there’s probably some irreduceable amount of this thing that we’ll have to accept. I’m in fact surprised that it happens as seldom as it does.

In my opinion, the solution is likely to not be fewer guns, or “gun-free zones” (which are basically the equivalent of a sign saying “Welcome, mass murderers! Unarmed victims in abundance here!”) but more guns, in the hands of trained teachers and other school authorities, to end such incidents as quickly as possible with a minimum loss of life.

What concerns me is the future, as technology evolves, and some demented kid gets a hold of something really nasty, that can create a great deal more havoc in an even shorter amount of time.