Murder Is a Constant

Bill Neinast

Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, John Wilkes Booth, Jessie James, Billy the Kid, Lizzie Borden, Bonnie and Clyde Barrow, Charles Joseph Whitman, Lyle and Eric Melendez, Andrew Joseph Stack III, Charles Carl Roberts IV, Timothy McVeigh, Dr. Clara Suarez Harris, Andreas Lubitz, and the KKK are just a few of the names on an endless list that covers many pages.

The names that you recognize immediately indicate that this is a list of murderers.  When you connect all the names to the murders of which they were accused or convicted, you may conclude that it is a history of murder.

This history establishes that men and women have been killing each other since the beginning of recorded time.

The only thing that has changed in that history is the method of taking human lives.  Weapons of death have progressed through the sticks and stones of Cain and Abel and David and Goliath, to knives and swords, and then to firearms, explosives, vehicles, and aircraft.

The record so far for one individual taking the lives of others is 168.  That is the number killed by explosives in the hands of Timothy McVeigh.

Second in line are the 144 innocents flown to their death by Andreas Lubitz in a Germanwings jetliner.

Rounding out this troika of lethal weapons is the Mercedes driven by  Dr. Clara Suarez Harris as she repeatedly ran over her husband, Dr. David Lynn Harris.

These horrific crimes seem to be forgotten every time there is a tragedy like the slaughter in the Pittsburgh synagogue.  The thinking then is dominated by demands for more gun control.

The killing of another has been prohibited by laws inscribed in codes of conduct ever since Moses brought the Ten Commandments down the mountain.  Not one of those prohibitions, however, has been very effective.  The murder rate just keeps on growing. 

The reasons for the burgeoning murder rate are what need to be considered. 

Four explanations of that deadly phenomenon immediately come to mind.

First, of course, is the continuous introduction of new methods for a human to take the life of another.  We have gone from sticks and stones to spears, bows and arrows, knives and swords, cumbersome single shot muskets, and, now, to easily transported rapid fire hand guns and rifles.

Second in line is the constant improvement and proliferation of vehicles for assassins or killers to stalk and get to their targets.

Third, is the rapidly growing population.  There will always be a number of mentally disturbed individuals in society.  The number of such individuals is proportional to the population.  So as the population grows, the number of problem individuals expands.

Finally, the exploding communications technology that brings scenes of carnage into every home and public gathering place in the country within seconds of an event cannot be ignored.  An offer of immediate national  recognition to sick individuals who feel they have been bullied, rejected, ignored or unjustly punished in some way cannot be refused by some.

The concern over tragedies like the recent spate of deaths in schools, churches, shopping malls, and other public places broadcast over mass media by public officials is understandable and laudable.  Their demands, however, to prevent recurrences and make public places safer are almost laughable.

None of this breast beating gives a moment’s notice to the most lethal weapons and the unsafest public places in the country.

Why is there not similar concern for sending our children into the most deadly spaces twice every day.  Those are the public roads and highways where, according to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 individuals were killed in 2017. 

So here’s the perspective.

Mourning tragedies like those at the Tree of Life Synagogue and condemning the hate that produces them is appropriate.  There is no justification, however, for the irrational reaction to the instruments of death in such cases.

As illustrated above, firearms are responsible for the smallest proportion of homicides.  McVeigh’s truck in Oklahoma City took 168 innocent lives, the large passenger planes flown into the Twin Towers and into the Italian Alps took thousands more, and the small private plane flown into the I.R.S. building in Austin also took the life of an innocent man as well as that of the pilot.

The motor vehicle on public thorougfares, though, holds the title for the deadliest instrument in the hands of man.

The true perspective, therefore, is that limiting gun ownership will not make any place safer.  What has to be controlled are the individuals with access to all those weapons of mass destruction.

Individuals must become constantly aware of both their surroundings and the individuals in those surroundings.  Many of those who have gone on missions of destruction have telegraphed their desires or intentions well in advance of the slaughter.

The feelings or intentions of mayhem are frequently expressed in various types of social media like Facebook and Twitter.  Everyone needs to keep their antennas up for this type of communications and call suspicious behavior of this type to authorities who might be able to intervene and prevent another tragedy.

Accept it.  We live in a dangerous world.  Sadly, there are millions of instruments of death out there available to  every individual in the country.

No law on earth can keep those instruments out of the hands of one intent on murder.

P.S. Just before this OpEd went on line, another tragedy made national news.  Three Girl Scouts and two adult leaders who were cleaning litter from a highway in Wisconsin were run over and killed by a truck driven by a man high on drugs. 

Where are the demands to prohibit ownership of motor vehicles,  the most deadly instruments of multiple deaths?



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