Our odd focus on Colorado: It's not about guns

Whole groups will be vilified, blame will be apportioned to those many times removed, and the shooter will be partially absolved of blame by those who prefer to see fault in video games or talk radio or political rhetoric or anything else that can be conscripted to explain why terrible things happen to good people. Few will point out that unless someone commits an atrocity in the name of an ideology — Timothy McVeigh, for example — their political beliefs are wholly irrelevant. Even in cases where a killer is motivated by something specific, to draw general conclusions is most often folly. America is not the land of collective guilt, and mass shootings should carve out no exception. Those few people who have already jumped on the crime to hit out at their boogeyman of choice are fools.

Alas, this welcome early absence of opportunity for partisan political blame has created a vacuum that has been filled by another form of folly: Calls for “gun control.” Upon hearing the news, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence immediately changed the front page of its website to aver that, “This is yet another horrific reminder that guns enable mass killings.” …

As Beccaria implies, this crime was ultimately about people. It was about the shooter, the victims, and their families — and very little else besides — and we would do well to avoid breathlessly proposing radical changes to our constitutional order because a man abused his liberty. Those with evil in their hearts are prone to do evil things, and those willing to violate strict prohibitions against murder do not care much about regulation of firearms or much else. As such, unless the shooter was part of a bigger conspiracy or was systematically failed by an institution, our attentions might be better focused on Aurora, Colo., and not on any particular group, or — even worse — the whole citizenry of the United States.