2015-09-02 / Editorials

We need to stop the insanity

Other Voices

Mitch Clarke Mitch Clarke It’s ten-thirty on Wednesday morning. My hands are shaking. I’ve been wiping away tears. The news people on TV keep talking about Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the reporter and photographer gunned down in Virginia.

I really have work I need to do. It’ll have to wait and my boss will have to understand. What I’m about to write isn’t for my bosses. It isn’t even really for you, my readers. This one is for me. I need to write it, maybe to make myself feel better, maybe to feel like someone is doing something. So bear with me.

I don’t mean to diminish the victims of any other mass shootings. Their deaths aren’t unimportant. But this one hit a little too close to home. I never met Alison or Adam. But in a journalism career that’s spanned more than three decades, I’ve known a lot of “Alisons” and “Adams.”

A lot of my friends are TV reporters or anchors. I’m heartbroken for them. I’m heartbroken for Alison and Adam, who were just doing their job — a job they loved, an admirable job, despite what some of you want to say about the media.

But moreover, I’m fed up with reporting on mass shootings in this country.

I’m 51 years old. I’ve never — ever — suggested that we keep guns away from people who want them. If you want to obtain a firearm legally and you want to use it responsibly, you can have one gun or 100, I don’t care.

But can’t we, for the love of God, admit that we have a problem with gun violence in this country. We have more deaths by gunfire than many other countries in the free world combined.

I’m sick of the left arguing every time there is a mass shooting that we have to take away everyone’s guns. I’m sick of the right saying that the solution is for everyone to own a gun. Both sides, in a predictable attempt at pandering to their bases, are missing the forest for the trees.

This idiot shooter didn’t decide to commit an act of senseless violence because he had a gun. The gun was simply a means to an end. The hate he had built up in his heart is what motivated him, and if he didn’t use a gun, he’d have used a knife or a bomb. And the aftermath would be no less tragic.

But giving a gun to everybody is a foolish idea, too. Alison and Adam would still be dead today, even if they were armed. I saw the video that idiot posted on social media of their murder. They were ambushed, pure and simple. Nothing could have saved them.

Do we need to find sensible, realistic ways to keep guns away from people who intend to do ill? Of course.

But the problem we face isn’t guns alone. It’s deeper than that. It’s sociological. It’s economic. It’s psychological. It’s spiritual. There’s a coarseness to our society today that wasn’t there 20 years ago.

We aren’t nice to each other anymore. We don’t love our neighbor. We hate anyone who has an opinion that is different from our own. We celebrate a presidential candidate who bullies and belittles anyone who disagrees with him. We’re desensitized to violence. We don’t value life.

My heart aches for Alison and Adam and the people who loved them. The rest of me is outraged our politicians would rather pander than actually work together to find a solution to a problem that is ripping apart our society. It’s destroying us, dammit.

I wish I could be optimistic. I suspect I’m just going to stay angry.

Mitch Clarke is a native of Blakely, Ga. He can be reached at mitch.clarke@gmail.com.

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