On Thursday evening, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" examined the carnage in Florida from various angles - the warning to the FBI that went nowhere, gun laws at home and abroad, mental health issues, etc.
On the Democrats' reflexive trope, the "gun control" argument will go nowhere, and everybody knows it. In 1996 Australians owned guns at a far lower rate than Americans do, and their sense of themselves and their nation's liberties was not so intimately bound up with private gun ownership as America's is. You would have to persuade freeborn citizens fundamentally to rethink their conception of gun rights, and Dems aren't in the persuasion business - not when it's easier to sneer at tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners who not unreasonably resent having the depravity of the usual mentally-ill misfit loner hung around their necks.
So the Aussie example is irrelevant unless Democrats want to provoke a civil war.
As for the FBI, that makes "Nikolas Cruz" (as I said down in the comments section yesterday) a non-jihadist example of the "known wolf" - and another cautionary tale in the limits of the panopticon security state with unlimited resources.
Gun-control advocates often say that, well, the Second Amendment was passed in the age of muskets, before all these big, scary-looking semi-automatics came along. In fact, there's a mere quarter-century between the death of the last Founding Father (Madison, in 1836) and the invention of the first continuous rapid-fire gun (the Gatling, in 1861). It's a 19th-century technology, like almost everything else other than the computer. But not until the late 20th and early 21st centuries did schoolboys think to use that 19th-century technology to slaughter their classmates.
So we - or at any rate some of us - have changed, and for the worse. And the question is why that is: The decline of organized religion, the rise of ersatz substitutes, the collapse of the family, the spread of mass media, the expansion of education, its descent into social engineering, the epidemic of over-medication, the absence of men, the metastasization of narcissism and the worship of the self... Maybe we could have weathered two or three of these, but, as I've said before, we changed too much too fast - and somewhere in the void a particular combination of factors incubated the depressingly similar young men who gun down their fellow pupils.
On Tucker's show, I came last, and we tried to formulate some final thoughts. Click below to watch:
My compatriot Kathy Shaidle has revisited a piece of hers from 2012: "Ban Schools, Not Guns." Actually, I think I got to that one almost twenty years ago, in The Daily Telegraph of May 22nd 1999. You'll notice the already weary familiarity of the media analysis:
To mark President Clinton's visit to the grieving citizens of Littleton, Colorado, some kid in Conyers, Georgia, decided to shoot six of his classmates.
Their wounds were described as 'non life threatening' but, even so, the usual experts found themselves dragged back to the TV studios to say all the things about guns, the Internet, gloomy pop music and absentee parents that they said a month ago. Nevertheless, the argument has subtly evolved over the last month. Instead of pondering whether firearms, video games and Hitler worship are to blame, the unsayable is at last beginning to be said: the reason kids are shooting up high schools is ...high schools.
My own view was that the fetishization of "self-esteem" assists the transformation of every "repressed lonely fantasist into a narcissistic psycho". And, since then, the hyper-reality of Internet identity has assisted it further: The self-confident loser is a very contemporary phenomenon. On the TV the other day, someone said there had been as many school shootings in the first seventeen years of this century as in the entirety of the last.
More broadly, as I often note, in 1939 the average American had an Eighth Grade education. Eighth Grade America won the Second World War and went on to dominate the planet. Today's Twenty-Eighth Grade America prolongs education interminably but to little purpose, even for those of a scholarly bent. It's obvious to those of us who have children in high school that by junior year there are any number of boys in particular who have ceased learning and on whom the burdens of daily attendance and deferred adulthood are beginning to chafe. Instead of promising to send every child to college, we should be thinking of ways to telescope education and enable those of non-academic inclination to leave with a meaningful qualification at, say, sixteen.
~If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club, feel free to disagree in the comments. You can find more details about the Club here. And please join Mark later today, Friday, when he'll be launching this month's brand new audio adventure in Tales for Our Time.