The common denominator

Published 10:21 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The senseless act by a deranged madman that claimed the lives of nearly 60 people and injured more than 500 others in Las Vegas on Sunday night was committed with what law enforcement officials believe to be legally purchased firearms.

The senseless act perpetrated by two deranged madmen that claimed the lives of 168 people, and injured hundreds of others in Oklahoma City 22 years ago was committed with legally purchased fertilizer and diesel fuel.

The senseless act perpetrated by two deranged madmen that claimed the lives of three people, maiming and injuring dozens more during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, was committed with legally purchased pressure cookers, nails and ball bearings.

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The senseless acts perpetrated by 19 deranged madmen that claimed the lives of 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia on Sept. 11, 2001, were committed with legally ticketed passengers on commercial airliners.

The senseless act perpetrated by a deranged madman that claimed the lives of 85 people in Nice, France in July of 2016 was committed with a legally rented cargo truck.

Since Cain committed history’s first recorded murder, human beings have found an endless number of ways to kill their fellow man. When lack of convenient means is overshadowed by the urge to kill, ingenuity and desire find a way. The most recent atrocity, the largest mass shooting in this country’s history, has many again urging Congress to enact stiffer gun control laws if not an outright ban on firearms altogether.

We don’t intend here to debate the merit of additional gun control measures, but instead to point out that ultimately it is the urge to kill that does the deed, not the weapon of choice.

This country, if not the world as a whole, is facing a mental health crisis of staggering proportions. The cause is a mystery, conditions go largely undiagnosed, and the treatment and care for those afflicted are often dumped in the lap of law enforcement agencies often after it is too late.

Gun violence is a problem. Understanding what causes unstable individuals to pull the trigger is an even bigger one. Expecting law enforcement to predict when and where the next disaster will strike is asking for more than what is possible.

It’s easy to blame guns after a massacre the likes of which took place in Las Vegas, but much less so airplanes, fertilizer and pressure cookers when used to commit the unthinkable. No matter the method when killings take place, it is quite often mental illness that lights the fuse. It is here that we should be placing a significant amount of our attention when trying to solve the puzzle of violence.

Cain didn’t have an assault rifle when he killed his brother. When the urge strikes, any old rock will do.