Families deserve to have their loved ones remembered and to be spared any unnecessary pain. Murderers should not be glamorized or held up for emulation. But at some point, we as a society have to examine why someone could commit such a heinous act so we can prevent such violence in the future.
It’s easy to simplify a horrific event into a single cause. But Stoneman Douglas resulted from multiple failures over the years. Why weren’t his serious mental health issues identified? Or his behavioral problems? Why didn’t he get help? What made him decide mass murder would solve his problems? How did he get access to guns and ammunition so easily? Why didn’t the FBI respond to reported threats? Why did law enforcement fail during the shooting?
Nothing excuses what he did. Many people have lost parents and suffered from mental health problems without resorting to violence. Many people own guns, including AR-15s, but they would never think of killing anybody. But these things combined to cause this individual to commit a terrible act. Too many other people are walking around with similar combinations of grievance, rage, and sociopathy who are ready to inflict cruelty on innocent people.
I understand the call of #NoPublicity. But we need a way to study these individuals so society can protect itself from them. It should be done in a way that respects grieving families and doesn’t trivialize and glamorize the horror. For too long, we’ve lurched from one mass shooting to the next, dismissing each one with a cursory “thoughts and prayers” and some vague promises of regulation that never materializes. We must do more. Part of it involves looking at the beast, understanding what drives such people to violence, and learning how we can stop such acts in the future. We owe it to the fallen and their families to prevent this terror from happening again.