Stop blame game about shootings, cease political uses of tragedy


Our nation has reached a contemptible and heartbreaking stage in our relative short history.

The political tacticians and the purveyors of social change have mandated that we shred one another into indiscernible pieces by throwing logic and civility out the window for the sake of gaining partisan advantage.

The recent mass shootings, acts of terror, expressions of madness or whatever label you would like to assign the deeds have been used for political propaganda.

Every Republican, Democrat and Libertarian that I have spoken to opposes violence as a means to prove a point or to move a political philosophy. Likewise, any intelligent person will concur that we as a nation must recognize the rule of law and denounce violence regardless of the race, nationality, religion or political affiliation of the perpetrator.

You would think that the federal politicians and cable TV news pundits could unite around the theme of boldly pushing back against those who wish to do public harm, regardless of where the perpetrator lands on the political spectrum.

Similarly, you would hope the politicians and pundits would have the courage to call out anyone reckless enough to use such tragedies for political advantage, but hysteria reigns.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not incite the perpetrator who brought firearms and a bomb to an immigration detention center, calling it a “concentration camp.”

It is certain that neither President Trump nor the Democrat candidates running in 2020 are inciting the violence and any claims to that end are insane. None of them are organizing, promoting, encouraging or participating in the violence.

It appears the perpetrators were displaying signs of dangerous behavior well before the president or any of the candidates ever thought about running for the office.

Let’s be extremely careful not to construe the advocacy of ideas or expression of beliefs as inciting violent acts. As we have witnessed throughout modern history, when public panic escalates, the forces wanting to squelch our liberties begin to gain control, resulting in even greater tragic consequences.

Instead of political accusations, we need to take a serious look at the data.

The Los Angeles Times published an Aug. 4 opinion piece by Jillian Peterson, a psychologist and professor of criminology and criminal justice, and James Densley, a sociologist and professor or criminal justice, entitled, “We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters.”

The pair’s analysis of the data for the U.S. Department of Justice reveals four commonalities among nearly all the perpetrators. First, the vast majority of mass shooters experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The trauma was often a precursor to mental health concerns.

Second, nearly every mass shooter reached an identifiable crisis point such as job loss, relationship rejection or loss, leading to suicidal thoughts or plans, or specific threats of violence.

Third, most of the shooters had studied the actions of other shooters and sought validation for their motives. Peterson and Densley say, “Societal fear and fascination with mass shootings partly drives the motivation to commit them,” explaining why “mass shootings tend to come in clusters.”

Fourth, once the perpetrator decides life is no longer worth living and murdering others in retaliation is an option, “only means and opportunity stand in the way of another mass shooting.”

As you already know, Peterson and Densley do not espouse the type of political and media hysteria we are currently witnessing as a way to resolve the problem.

Instead, they suggest keeping firearms away from vulnerable individuals in crisis and for the media to not give them public validation.

Peterson and Densley also suggest that everyone be trained to recognize the signs of crisis, noting, “Most mass public shooters are suicidal, and their crises are often well known to others before the shooting occurs.”

The bold accusations about certain politicians or organizations inciting mass murder needs to stop. Likewise, I am hoping intelligent people of all races, nationalities, religions and political affiliations refuse to bullied into silence and take a stand against elevating mass murder through political propaganda.

Steve Brown

Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown is a former Peachtree City mayor and Fayette County commissioner]