After a mass shooting there are the inevitable calls for stricter gun control laws or the banning of assault weapons. Some say that such demands are made for political gain. Still others say that the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is no time to talk politics, but to mourn, pray and memorialize the victims.

There is no single solution that will soothe everyone. The public (according to polls) is overwhelmingly in favor of stricter background checks. Some also want a ban on assault-style guns but leaders say there is no political appetite to pass such legislation. 

The El Paso shooter as well as others have cited anti-immigrant, white supremecist and nationalistic writings as inspiration for their actions. There are dark corners of the internet where ugly opinions fester. A person harboring hatred, loaded for bear, can easily find websites that will give credence to their vilest intentions.,

The dual concerns of supporters of Second Amendment and First Amendment rights cannot be ignored. Our social compact should ensure that no one’s rights overrule the rights of another. The right to bear arms does not negate another person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is right to focus on domestic terrorism, which is what every one of the mass shootings in America over the past few years has been. Investigations show that shooters are not created out of thin air moments before opening fire. There is a progression that starts small and leads to tragedy. 

It is difficult to prevent a person who is determined to kill and maim without violating their personal rights. However, nobody is without someone in their life: family, friend or acquaintance. There is someone who is aware of a person’s opinions and potential for harm; those people need to feel comfortable in making a report to authorities. How heartwrenching it would be to know you could have stopped a massacre and didn’t.

We can never know what dark thoughts cloud the mind of a person. We cannot assume our quaint community is immune from the world’s troubles. We can be vigilant.

 —LAZ