What makes these mass shootings so fucking infuriating is that the situations are so simple, so consistent. Mental illness + guns. This isn’t one of the incredibly difficult-to-predict situations. A who could have known moment.
No, what seems to have been going on in the Lanza house was the equivalent of building a bomb. And the question wasn’t whether it would go off, but when. And it wasn’t whether people would die as a result, but who and how many.
The problem with the broader “gun safety” frame is that it places restrictions on millions of gun owner who objectively are a low threat. Now, personally, I don’t give a shit. If it were in my power, I’d seize every fucking firearm in the country other than revolvers, shotguns, and bolt-action rifles and melt them all down. But that isn’t going to happen. And as a matter of practical politics, I think that any effort to impose restrictions on all gun owners is going to be virtually impossible to accomplish.
But, maybe, just maybe, we could talk about restrictions in cases where this Venn diagram occurs. If there is a person with mental illness in a household, they should, simply, not be allowed to possess firearms. We can debate what the specific dividing lines are. Is it schizophrenia? Depression? Autism spectrum? I don’t know.
But in many of the recent high profile cases, the indicators were obvious. Lanza was a kid who could not function in school. Despite his intellect, he was so unable to interact socially that he was pulled from high school. Now, I don’t want to punish families facing the challenge of mental illness. If anything, I’d like them to have much more and better support. But maybe, just maybe, such households should, in the interest of public safety, be barred from gun ownership?