It is in the young hours after the day of the Santa Monica shooting rampage that I find myself unable to sleep. My inability to sleep is for a multitude of reasons, but my thoughts of the day’s events not far do thus contribute.
Six people, not far from what I’ve called home had their lives cut short today. Their memories, potentials, and current endeavors eradicated from existence. A longtime question of psychologists and thoughtful minds alike, is, “what exactly goes on in a murderer’s mind?” I am not a human behaviourist, and I did not end up pursuing my original major of Psych. Therefore, my humble fascination with the mind can not give a scientifically backed answer. I can, however, give my take, and that is that these actions are based on a distorted interpretation of the individual’s background. This is not meant to sound completely nurture-based. The idea is that the given interpretation is propagated from biological makeup. Adrian Raine, author of “The Anatomy of Violence” (worth a read!), explains that there is alarming evidence that killers possess an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Known as the CEO of the brain, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotion, temperament, problem solving, and complex thought. In the end, the concept of murder may not be as complex as it is made out to be. It may very well boil down to what that individual perceived to be acceptable.
This all can be a scary thought, as this would prove that murderous tendencies are expected amongst the vast array of populace. Risk is taken with the act of living. It is common to overlook this and try to identify relevant characteristics in a situation, so that one may learn to avoid them. The Stoics, who dominated the ancient school of thought, preached ataraxia in an unpredictable world. If emotions are governed, anxiety is limited. Nevertheless, even with a peaceful mind, tragedies will happen, especially with technological advancements.
It is a natural assumption that a left-leaning citizen would be absolutely opposed to any form of artillery, much less civilian owned guns. A gun is, in fact, an apparatus for obliterating a living organism. That is putting aside whether the shot was for murder or protection. The full make up of a gun is designed to end a life. Achieving this of course, depends on the shooter and his or her intentions. A gun can not achieve its purpose without a human pulling its trigger. However, it is with guns that an unarmed victim finds his life arbitrarily obliterated without chance of a winning fight. It is the frustration in this last statement that a somewhat-liberal such as I, can not fully deny sane, law-abiding citizens a chance to protect themselves, should they choose to do so.
This brings me to the idea of general security. With a largely populated country, comes larger security. I believe the problem is in the inability to distinguish security from safety and liberty. Safety is an impossible dream for a large country. Government responds to safety breaches by creating greater security through diminished liberty.
A current example is the fuss about phone companies providing the NSA with metadata about the duration of calls and to whom the calls were made. This, coupled with internet surveillance, is an invasion of privacy, especially if one believes that knowing the duration of a phone call is a stepping stone to more wiretapping. Security is a complicated ground where officials may feel that sacrifices must be made in the name of safety. The history of under-achieving, overly-sanguine surveillance programs is a great one. The most recent being accepted as an erroneously temporary one. It is a sad state, to say the least. However, I’m sure the public will reach the even more elaborate consensus that this is all to stalk their mundane yahoo chat exchanges, their 30 minute conversations with their mothers, or the 90 minute breathing-into-the-phone exchanges with their significant others. It bears mention that corporations collect consensual data that can be sold and used against an individual, long before unwarranted non-egregious data can be used.