The Campaign Spot

Grappling With It All

It’s a grim Morning Jolt today, as you would expect.

I’m pretty convinced that the media coverage fuels these impulses in these young men, disturbed and full of rage and desperately craving some recognition of them, their potential, their pain.

John Tabin spotlighted this assessment from a forensic psychiatrist:

If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.

Don’t make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market. 

And of course, each one seems to spur copycats.  

A northern Indiana man who allegedly threatened to “kill as many people as he could” at an elementary school near his home was arrested by officers who later found 47 guns and ammunition hidden throughout his home.

Von. I. Meyer, 60, of Cedar Lake, was arrested Saturday after prosecutors filed formal charges of felony intimidation, domestic battery and resisting law enforcement against him. He was being held Sunday without bond at the Lake County Jail, pending an initial hearing on the charges, police said in a statement.

Cedar Lake Police officers were called to Meyer’s home early Friday after he allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire once she fell asleep, the statement said.

Meyer also threatened to enter nearby Jane Ball Elementary School “and kill as many people as he could before police could stop him,” the statement said. Meyer’s home is less than 1,000 feet from the school and linked to it by trails and paths through a wooded area, police said.

Again and again:

 A Bartlesville High School student is in custody on charges he plotted to bomb and shoot students at the campus auditorium on the same day that 28 people were shot and killed at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Police arrested 18-year-old Sammie Eaglebear Chavez at about 4:30 a.m. Friday after learning of the alleged plot Thursday.

An arrest affidavit says Chavez tried to convince other students to help him lure students into the auditorium, chain the doors shut and start shooting. The Tulsa World reports that authorities say Chavez threatened to kill students who didn’t help.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports Chavez planned to detonate bombs at the doors as police arrived.

It feels like we’re in a sickening game of “can you top this” by evil people. “You shoot up a politicians’ event, I’ll shoot up a movie theater.” “You shoot up a movie theater, I’ll shoot up a kindergarten.” Each twisted soul is upping the ante for the next to really shock and horrify us – a senior citizens’ center? A nursery school? A neonatal intensive care unit?

The usual argument on this point is “we need to ramp up our mental health efforts,” but that’s easier said than done. And what we’re really talking about is involuntary detainment and observation of people if they are deemed threatening by “odd behavior.” If you think seeking therapy and mental health treatment is stigmatized now, wait until the government can easily access your mental health records without your consent to determine if you’re a threat to society.

You’ll hear an argument about arming teachers, a solution that has its own problems, among them that the security at any given school will depend upon A) teachers willing to carry weapons in their classrooms and B) their ability to control a firearm at all times. The first time a teacher forgets and leaves their gun where a student can touch it, that whole policy will become the newest scapegoat.

 I’m not sure that school security is really the right focus, because most schools, with their press-the-buzzer-to-enter, check in at the front office, closed-circuit television cameras, and so on, are not built to stop a determined murderer with multiple guns. Few facilities in our country are. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure I want to rearrange every school in America to be a fortress, designed to stop a determined murderer with multiple guns; the result would be the mass “TSA-ization” of American life.


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