Local view: Who’s to blame for mass shootings? We are: Let’s discipline our children before it’s too late

If you're going to write an article on public shootings, you'd better keep a finger on the update button. I started this article in June after Charleston and we've had two new ones since then.

Robert Lillegard
Robert Lillegard

If you’re going to write an article on public shootings, you’d better keep a finger on the update button. I started this article in June after Charleston and we’ve had two new ones since then.
Summer in America! A white guy kills nine black churchgoers because he doesn’t like black people. An Arabic guy kills five service members because he doesn’t like the military. A third idiot opens fire in a movie theater, and nobody even knows why.
Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Aurora, the Sikh temple, Jared Loughner, the Washington Navy Yard. I guess feeling bad about Virginia Tech makes me a nostalgia buff, because Mother Jones reports we’ve had 28 mass shootings since then.
Right here in Minnesota, we’ve had the Accent Signage Systems massacre and the Red Lake massacre within the past 10 years. So much for Minnesota nice.
Liberal groups are saying we need stricter weapons bans to solve this. That’s a good start, especially with assault weapons.
If you believe in literal interpretation of the Constitution, you understand that you must respect the intent of the Founders and shouldn’t take a passage out of context. The Second Amendment explicitly says the reason for the right to bear arms is that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free state.” That means National Guard units should be 100 percent state-controlled and wield any arms necessary if federal tyranny threatens, not that each individual should get whatever weapons he or she wants to re-enact “Rambo.”
But is making assault weapons illegal outside of well-regulated militias really going to end the massacres? Marijuana is illegal, too, but it’s not exactly hard to find. Even Norway, with its strict gun control, saw 77 people massacred in 2011.
We wring our hands wondering what’s going wrong with “society” that it produces these killers. And yet, really, the blood is on our hands. We are the ones raising up little murderers.
You know who does this kind of thing in the first place? Bad people. You know how people get bad? They start out that way. Let’s quit getting dewy-eyed about childhood innocence. You don’t have to teach a toddler to be selfish, to punch his brother, to scream when he doesn’t get his way. You don’t have to teach older kids to lie, steal or lash out in anger.
You have to teach kids not to do these things. Ask your grandparents or great-grandparents how easy their parents made it for them to mouth off, neglect chores or fight their siblings. Ask them if they were a bit scared of their parents. Then ask them how many public massacres they remember from their younger years.
So what has changed in society over the past 40 years? We went from parents to friends. Now we don’t want to hurt our precious angels, so we don’t spank them or use harsh words when they misbehave. Weren’t we clever to see how that kind of thing just teaches them to be violent themselves? So we replaced those old methods with psychology, therapy and medication. How’s that working out for us? Has anyone noticed society getting less violent?
I’m mad. I’m mad we lost nine lives in Charleston (and more in other places since I first started writing this). I’m mad people of my generation feel lost and purposeless when they find out in spite of all those ribbons we aren’t that special. I’m mad people think it’s OK to kill the innocent.
And, of course, I’m mad at the shooters. They’re not victims; they’re criminals. They should
be put to death. Or do you think Dylann Roof deserves to live after killing nine black churchgoers out of racist hate? Would you look the families of the victims in the eyes and say that to them?
But retribution is relatively simple. And while plenty of murderers still are getting away alive, at least we are quicker to execute than most first-world countries. The greater challenge is preventing these crimes in the first place.
Banning assault weapons is reasonable. But the more effective, long-term solutions are on our shoulders. We should lovingly chasten our children, even physically when warranted. We have to create an environment where yes, they do get a little scared when they break rules. If they don’t learn this at home, they’ll learn it from the police.
Love doesn’t let children play with matches or run into the street so they can have autonomy. Love also doesn’t let children become self-indulgent and think the universe revolves around them. When you read the motives of these killers, you see they are the kings of their own little universes. Unfortunately, we’ve been the kingmakers.
This isn’t a cure-all. I’m sure some of the shooters were disciplined at home, maybe even abusively over-disciplined. (That’s just as bad as not disciplining at all; and in that case, it’s the adults who need to be hauled off to jail.)
But it’s time to end our 40-year experiment with being our children’s buddies and get back to the kind of parenting methods our ancestors practiced for thousands of years. The hand that rocks the cradle saves the world.

Robert Lillegard of Superior is an author and writer whose work has been published in the New York Times, Outside Magazine and other national publications.

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