When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke during a vigil for the victims of the deadly mass shooting in Dayton, the crowd began to chant “Do something!”
Professional soccer player Alejandro Bedoya of the Philadelphia Union followed up his score of a goal Sunday by grabbing the on-field TV microphone and declaring, “Hey, Congress, do something now! End gun violence! Let’s go!”
“Do something” is often what someone says while in panic mode. It is neither a solution nor even a direction. After all, in the heat of the moment, doing something can mean anything and that action can turn out to be the wrong thing or even make matters worse.
But it is also an expression of desperation. Americans are sick to their stomachs over mass killings. We send heartfelt “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. That is appropriate and necessary for comfort and healing, but it is not an answer to the violence.
Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt suggests we expect too much from government when these killings happen. “Voters want magical, transformative results and politicians hungry for power are only too willing to make such promises. They pretend to be shamans capable of curing all our problems, as if the right words would fix what ails us.”
He’s right, but only to a point. No, the government can’t mollify the extreme hate in a person’s soul or reverse the twisted logic of a psychopath, but it can do some things, and that’s the issue: Our leaders cannot agree on anything.
It’s not as though there are not ideas. President Trump touched on many of them in his Monday address—do a better job identifying the early warning signs of a killer, stop the glorification of violence, reform mental health laws to better identify disturbed individuals, adopt “red flag” laws to keep guns away from those judged to pose a risk.
There are lots of other ideas that the president did not mention: Outlaw the sale of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, expand background checks, extend waiting periods, close the gun show loophole, require a license and training for a gun purchase.
We could dramatically increase funding to law enforcement to monitor and infiltrate domestic terror organizations. As the Washington Post reported, “The threat of white nationalist violence appears to be rising. Between October and June, there were about 100 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects, and if the trend continues, the total for 2019 would outpace the previous year.”
Trump called on a unified effort to stand up against hate. “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” the President said Monday. Frankly, that begins with the President following through on his call to the rest of the nation by toning down his own inflammatory language.
As you would expect, Americans are divided on any and all of the possible remedies for mass killings, which tells you there are no easy answers. Even a simple step like expanding background checks has been impossible to get through Congress.
“Do something” is a rallying cry by a public that is growing numb to the senseless slaughter for leaders to make a concerted effort to try some of the myriad options available to at least reduce the likelihood of more mass murder.