Explaining the School Shooting
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Opinions about why the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred have come in a flood. Even more suggestions and demands have been offered about what needs to be done to keep such a tragedy from ever happening again. Practically all have missed a telling point that appeared in an obscure political cartoon.
The poignant message arrived in what really wasn’t a cartoon. To merit that designation, there would likely be a caricature of the targeted subject, maybe even a photo of the person featured with a wry or compromising smile followed by appropriate commentary. No, what I’m referring to is a very few words published in an obviously solemn type style. Its words follow:
Dear God: Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? – Concerned Student
Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in your schools. – God
Whether a daily mention of God in school would have kept Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people can’t be known. But there are numerous other cultural changes over the past 50 years that should be factored into whether there will be more tragedies like the one just headlined in Florida. These, too, should not be ignored.
I think of broken families, the widespread abandonment of instruction about moral absolutes, violence featured in movies and video games, drugs administered to the young that lead to distorting their reality, and intense focus on the mass shooters that can easily result in copycat crimes. With the general breakdown of moral principles, I sometimes wonder why there aren’t even more splurges of violence.
Of course, there are many who blame the gun used in such a crime. But no gun ever jumped up from a table or escaped from a gun rack to perform by itself. Someone put it to use. The late Bob Lee, my deceased good friend, once wrote, “Blaming guns for crimes is as senseless as blaming pencils for misspelled words.” He was correct.
I’m a great admirer of the Constitution of the United States. Among its Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments that are considered by many as a portion of the original Constitution itself) there is the very sensible and needed Second Amendment. In part, it states, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Proper authorities and due process should take that right from someone who has abused it. Take it from someone who is mentally sick – yes. Keep it from young people who don’t know how to use it – yes again. But taking guns from law-abiding, sensible people isn’t the answer. Criminals will always find ways to obtain a gun in our free country. And, as the erosion of moral standards continues, there will be more, not fewer, mass shootings.
John Adams served as our nation’s second president. The Bill of Rights had already been added to the Constitution when he held the office. He had no difficulty accepting the full Constitution as the supreme law of our land. But he knew it wasn’t enough, that even it didn’t guarantee the freedom and tranquility decent people desire. He believed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Because so many Americans are not “moral and religious people,” shootings such the recent tragic event in Florida occur.
No matter how admirable it may be, a Constitution won’t prevent a repeat of the horror just witnessed. It won’t erect a barrier between ordinary citizens and those who are sick, criminally bent, or depraved. John Adams was correct. A return to exposing young people to the need for religion and morality would surely diminish – maybe even terminate – the type of horror just visited on the children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.