“Let’s fix it, people.”
Those were the memorable words spoken by Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Kranz as he pleaded with his team of engineers and mathematicians to figure out how to return the crippled spacecraft safely to earth.
Work the problem. It’s what engineers and scientists do day in and day out to overcome what seem like insurmountable obstacles. Working on the problem, they’ve achieved incredible feats in everything from spaceflight and automotive safety to life-saving vaccines and promising cancer treatments.
America has a problem with mass shootings – a perverse societal disease that usually manifests itself in young men wielding high-capacity firearms.
Predictably, after the unfathomable tragedy at Uvalde, some people reflexively called for a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15. Others have reflexively blamed “evil” or mental illness for the heinous acts of Salvador Rolando Ramos. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the common refrain.
Predictably, political leaders recite the same banal rhetoric they think their supporters want to hear, and then they do nothing.
Granted, engineers and scientists often work to solve problems in an environment very different from our society, which is messy, loud, angry, and hyper-polarized. Yet serious problem solvers know that true skill requires doing things thoughtfully and consciously, considering all factors and variables, and not letting hunches, intuition, or personal biases stifle empirical evidence. .
Our state and national leaders must approach this social problem “in a thoughtful and conscious way”. Serious politicians must weigh the facts and the evidence produced by experts. (Much work on the psychological profiles of mass shooters has already been done). Leaders must examine the full range of social influences on young men who commit these atrocities – their family dynamics and school environment, their behavioral patterns, the impacts of social media, the extent of their exposure to violent imagery. They should investigate all motivating factors.
They must also weigh external factors such as school security, the presence of trained security personnel (resource officers or educational staff), and other potential barriers to a killer.
Along with a thorough investigation into the psychological profile of these killers, an examination of the means by which they carry out massacres must be part of the equation. To refuse to even consider the role assault-type firearms play in these murders would be negligent.
Texas and America need smart, serious lawmakers to solve this problem. We need adults to act, and voters should demand it.
If action is indeed taken, we understand that it is likely to be progressive, particularly in the area of gun laws.
But even small steps are welcome if they somehow alter this horrible trend.
To solve the problem, you have to start somewhere.
— Herald Banner