Ocean City Today

Gun blame game political theater

Mar 01, 2018



printed 03/02/2018


As blame is directed at law enforcement agencies, school systems and social services departments for failing to prevent mass shootings, a film from years ago illustrates how preposterous (and politically convenient) this increasing criticism is.

The plot of the 2002 science fiction feature “Minority Report” concerned a police department “pre-crime” unit that used the predictions of psychics to arrest people for crimes they might, but had yet to, commit.

As absurd as it might seem to employ a movie theme to show how unfair these dereliction of duty accusations are, it also shows why they are self-serving nonsense.

The question no one seems to ask in this scolding of law enforcement and other agencies is what, exactly, are they supposed to do?

In the absence of mind readers and psychic profilers, as well as a law that requires the speedy incarceration of people who may contemplate killing others, the ability of these agencies to intervene successfuly is limited.

Even if they do identify a troubled individual, they cannot know when, where or even if that person will turn deadly. They also don’t know if counseling will work or whether that person might turn lunatic between therapy sessions.

Should the police conclude that someone is a threat to society, there’s little they can do quickly. They cannot swoop in and seize legally obtained weapons that are available to that person. Nor can they force that individual into counseling.

Not, at least, without a court order that declares that individual a danger to society. As important as the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms might be, the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process is even more vital. It says no person may be “ deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

In essence,  a capricious government can’t jail someone or confiscate his or her guns just because it wants to.

Assuming that these finger-pointing officials are at least marginally intelligent, reasonable people must realize that officials’ increasingly vocal denunciations are political theater with a touch of misdirection.

There’s no better way to avoid difficult political issues than to say someone else should have done something. Even better is not having to explain how they should have done it.

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