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Don't just 'do something'

Gunplay is rampant in the United States and that is a scary thing.

We are not referring to high school corridors. While disturbing and less rare than they once were (the problem was once a never ever event in our not too distant past) mass shootings by students aiming at other students is not an insolvable problem.

Once we look beyond the emotional shock of such events and think rationally, it’s clear that, like air travel, schools can be made more secure. School boards should decide to do that.

But daily life feels more dangerous. On the front page of the Chronicle-Tribune Thursday were two stories. One about a man who invited a woman and her children into his home, where upon he drank vodka and beer and smoked “a rock like substance” before pointing the gun at the woman and verbally threatening to kill her and her children.

There was also the story of a North Manchester police officer who fatally shot a man Tuesday evening after a traffic stop. The officer said the man drew a gun on police.

We are regressing. This is Old West stuff without the Hollywood glamour. Banning guns is not the answer to this. Firearms are part of the American culture in ways unlike Europe or Asia. That won’t change. What needs to change is the inexplicable desire for the arrival violence for its own sake.

All of the people calling for government to “do something” need to know that governments that just “do something” usually do the wrong thing and almost always make the situation worse. If you don’t believe that, look at the 50 years worth of programs meant to eradicate poverty in America that built a virtually permanent class of poor people. One could also look at the Affordable Care Act, which fails to ensure health care and fails to make health care affordable.

The recovery from where we have gotten ourselves regarding violent homes, violent choices and violent habits, will require a world recovering it’s moral center. That work takes place in families and schools and neighborhoods. It requires leadership at the most local level – that of married couples, sons and daughters with moms and dads. The problem does not have a legislative answer.