The NYTimes chose the following headlines to characterize the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton “In Texas Gunman’s Manifesto, An Echo of Trump’s Language,” “Manifesto Posted by El Paso Gunman Echoes Trump’s Words,” “Mass Killers Emboldened by Rhetoric of President, Some Candidates Say.” (NYT 8/5/19)
The reporters at the LA Times probed more deeply, interviewing former schoolmates who knew the killers and came up with the unsurprising profiles of two male loners who were humiliated in high school and recognized as problematic early on. Patrick Crusius, a 21 year old man who graduated from high school in El Paso two years ago was described by a classmate as “irritable and had a short temper, often picked on because of how he spoke. Every time I looked up in class, it was someone new speaking negatively to the kid, “Patrick, that is dumb, stupid.” Connor Betts of Dayton was a 24 year old “described as a troubled man who harbored violent fantasies. His classmate had reported him to the teacher for “jokingly telling girls that he was going to kill them.” He was suspended from school in his sophomore year after being caught with a list of people he wanted to rape and kill” (LA Times 8/5/19)
In January of this year, the WSJ published an interview with Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow who was murdered by Nicholas Cruz along with 16 other people at the Parkland High School. Pollack has co-written a book entitled “Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endangered America’s Students.” Not all the circumstances of the three mass shootings are alike but the profiles of the killers as recognizably disturbed young men go along with many other examples of young people we have identified yet repeatedly allowed to slip through the cracks. Though it would be virtually impossible to keep tabs on all male loners in high school, it should be possible to add the names of those who have threatened or carried out violence to the watch-list that would prevent them from legally buying guns and assault rifles. Clearly, reforms must be made to drastically inhibit the sale of weapons throughout our country but we also need drastic reform of how we discharge troubled students from high school without notification to local authorities of what they have already done or threatened to do. It’s tragically obvious that profiling is an essential tool for identifying at-risk people and taking the steps that are legally available to law enforcement. As for the greater dangers of our prevailing culture of violence on our streets, on the internet, in the media and in the majority of our mass entertainment - that is a topic far more taboo than simply blaming the president.
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