Getting lost in the aftermath of the elections is the continual struggle with violence in our nation. To be specific, the urge to kill the unsuspecting in a blaze of self-loathing and hatred before killing oneself.
The Midtown yoga killing was such a callous act, I do not mention the name of the shooter. One young woman didn’t get her future. Her chance to be a wife, mother, dreamer, are all gone. The other was a medical professional who spent most of her career engaged in every area of the community. What does a civilized society do to remember Maura and Dr. Van Vessem and how do we respond as a community?
In a country based on the freedom of movement and thought, individual actions that impinge on public freedoms must be identified and made more difficult. Do we expect that yoga enthusiasts are to be strapped up now before they go out? Does the yoga community throw open their doors in defiance or have a buzzer to let people in? Do we hire more off-duty officers to join the schools, grocery stores, banks, and state agencies that already pay for security? What about buying more bulletproof backpacks and bulletproof designer clothes? Or is this the one? Is this finally the act where we study connections between creating killer instincts, rationing healthcare, and avoiding common sense gun laws?
The medical community and FSU School of Medicine, in kinship with the loss of one of their own, could help the search for answers. Was there a biological underpinning? There is enough research now to show possible linkage between the early stages of brain development and the propensity to commit criminal acts. Did the shooter have more access to weapons than healthcare? Was he properly discharged from the military? The university banned him from campus, yet FSU is not just a convenience store that a vagrant is trespassed from. In a way, the shooter was a serial predator, usually someone required to register so law enforcement and the larger community may monitor their movements. Maybe that should have happened in this case. As a graduate of the university, should his degree status be revoked? How can someone earn a degree from a university that also bans him from campus? Are there any lessons from the practice of law or medicine and how criminal acts of professions are handled?
It is hard to get into the mind and will of why someone does what they do, yet if our response is resigned to check boxes and stay in our lanes without practicing the reasonable ability to discriminate, differentiate, coordinate, and learn, these things will continue to happen. The Midtown shooter is further evidence that people can follow the rule of law just enough, whether getting degreed, certified, or licensed, and still not be of sound mind. Weaponry that results in quick devastation should require as stringent an oversight as flying an airplane, buying a stick of dynamite, or prescribing a drug. Singular special interests and silo mentalities are destroying the common good. We have enough weaponry to arm every American. That’s enough. There are no more prayers to be prayed. Maura and Dr. Van Vessem deserve better.
Daniel Parker is an author, educator, and public servant. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org