There is arrogance to hindsight, a reflex to rattle off lessons learned when the same narrative plays out, week after week. A mentally ill young man stockpiles guns and ammo and murders at random.
We know how to curtail the risk — not eliminate it, human nature is immutable — but lawmakers choose not to act. And as a society, we make a decision by not making a decision.
“We’re all proud to be Americans. But what kind of message does it send to the world when we have such a rudderless bunch of idiots in government?” asked Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20, one of Friday’s mass shooting victims near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The story arc is identical, just switch out the venue and the narcissistic killer. Real victims whose lives are abruptly cut short and the grieving families who never actually heal — that is the too-tangible thread.
After the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, theater, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe made a commonsense plea: Stop mentioning the perpetrator by name. He’s right.
It’s Friday’s victims who should be the focus. College-age kids magnify the rawness of insensible death.
The 2012 Aurora shooting was followed the next month by the Sikh temple murders in Wisconsin that left seven dead.
In 2008, a Skagit County man murdered six people, including Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputy Anne Jackson. In May of 2012, a 40-year-old Seattle man, shot and killed four people at Café Racer Espresso, murdered a woman during a carjacking, and later killed himself. And from the pantheon of anchorless madmen with guns, there was the Virginia Tech shooting, just seven years ago, which left 32 dead. And Newtown, with 20 children dead.
In a world without end, violence without end.
Universal background checks for firearms sales and more mental-health funding are not cure-alls, but they can help.
One mental-health corrective is “Joel’s Law,” House Bill 2725, which unanimously passed the state House in February, but did not come to a floor vote in the senate. The effort gives immediate family members more sway to petition the superior court for review in the event a mental health professional sidesteps protective detention for their loved one.
The financial impact of Joel’s Law (it needs to have a significant fiscal note attached to it next time) will force the state to invest in services for those living with mental illness. Make no mistake: That is a very good thing.