The Pnyx: Mass shootings

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

Mass shootings have, again, made headlines throughout the United States. The recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, followed by the attack in Thousand Oaks, California, have put the country on edge, rightfully so.

It’s a familiar script: live updates, questions about the shooter’s motives, interviews with survivors and families, politicians saying “thoughts and prayers”, and the ratcheting up of the country’s debate about guns.

I could write an article advocating for strict gun control, which I do believe in. I will not.

Instead, I want to suggest something more straightforward: that we enforce the laws we actually have on the books, and that agencies actually do their jobs in acting on reports made about individuals prior to the crime. 

The Parkland shooter, for example, was known to the FBI, which failed completely to act on the knowledge that it had been given.

The 2007 Virginia Tech shooter was known to have a mental illness, which should have precluded him from being able to get a gun; the law was not enforced.

The Sutherland Springs church shooter had been court-martialed and convicted of domestic abuse, which would have made it illegal for him to get a gun. The law went unenforced, and people were slaughtered as a result.

We can and should debate gun control. But before we introduce new laws, let’s actually try to enforce the ones we have. Without proper enforcement, the law is toothless, and a toothless law can do little to protect citizens from harm.

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