Pundit makes no suggestions: In this morning’s column, Joe Nocera issues some standard remarks about mental illness and guns.
We don’t necessarily disagree with his remarks. We’re just surprised that Nocera seems to have so little to offer.
What are Nocera’s standard remarks? He starts by noticing this:
NOCERA (9/24/13): What has been most stupefying about the reaction to the Navy Yard rampage is how muted it has been. After the horror of Newtown, people were galvanized. This time, the news seemed to be greeted with a resigned shrug. “Is this the new normal?” David Gregory asked Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC. It’s sure starting to feel that way.The reaction to the Navy Yard shootings has been “stupefying,” Nocera says. For ourselves, we’re surprised that Nocera is stupefied.
Mass shootings “ought to obsess us,” said President Obama when he spoke on Sunday to the grieving Navy Yard community. “It ought to lead to some sort of transformation.” But it never does.
Mass shootings ought to obsess us, Nocera says. Maybe, maybe not! But as he continues, Nocera reaches the point where his analysis is bindingly obvious—stupefyingly so:
NOCERA (continuing directly): We know that most mass shooters have this one thing in common: They have usually shown signs of mental illness in the past. And while keeping guns out of their hands won’t put an end to gun violence, it might at least mitigate against these ritual slaughters of innocent people.Nocera says his proposed solution “requires a political will that the country simply doesn’t have.” At this point, that statement is blindingly obvious. For that reason, it’s the place at which a serious column should start.
It wouldn’t even be that hard to accomplish. “You have to create a net that will weed out people who are likely to commit acts of gun violence,” says Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
It would require universal background checks, for sure, with criteria built around past acts of violence, commitments to mental health facilities, and addiction to drugs and alcohol, among other things. California, in fact, has such criteria, which is why Matthew Warren had such difficulty getting a gun. (You would also have to crack down on illegal gun sales.)
But it does require a political will that the country simply doesn’t have.
If we assume that Nocera has good ideas, why do we lack the political will to put those ideas into effect? In what does our lack of will consist? How might we address it?
Nocera never makes any attempt to address or answer those questions! He simply notes that Obama doesn’t want to raise the gun issue again, and Joe Manchin won’t do it either.
Nocera claims to care about this issue. But he doesn’t make the slightest attempt to address the lack of political will that stands in the way of his proposals, which strike us as perfectly sensible.
If his ideas make so much sense, why can’t they be enacted in law? Nocera skips this question.
Should Nocera be stupefied by the reaction to last week’s shooting? We’re amazed that he’s stupefied, and that he seems to have no ideas about how to proceed from here.