Yes as momentous and overdue as any progress on guns and mental illness would be, even that by itself would not be enough. We must start there, in other words, but not only there, because we still don’t fully comprehend what we’re up against.
If guns alone — or even guns plus lousy mental health services — were the entire problem, why were no little red schoolhouses fired upon in the Wild West, where everyone was armed and mental illness completely untreated?
There are pieces of the whole of this problem strewn across the political spectrum, it seems to me: The left is correct that actually, guns do kill people, and that the fraidy cats in thrall to the National Rifle Association have blood on their hands.
But the right has a point, too, about the culture of death, in the language of Pope John Paul II’s Gospel of Life. If we haven’t glorified even mass shootings and their perpetrators, then why does one shooter after another show up dressed all in black, like an anti-hero ready for his big finale?