Cal Thomas: Until Our Cultural Rot Reverses, Here's What to Do About Mass Shootings


The first question most people ask after mass shootings like the one last week at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis in which a 19-year-old man murdered eight people before taking his own life is: How did he get the gun?

He was known to authorities. A gun he previously owned was seized because he was believed to have mental problems.

So, how did he manage to legally purchase two guns last summer, three and four months after the first gun was seized? His mother had already told police her son wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

The second question: What could or should have been done to prevent the tragedy?

The third question: Can anything be done to prevent future incidents like this, which are happening with greater frequency?

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We have heard these questions — and more — asked after previous acts of carnage. They are never satisfactorily answered. At least they are not answered in ways that produce results capable of protecting innocent people.

Following the Indianapolis shooting, President Biden said, “It is a national embarrassment, what’s going on. And it’s not only these mass shootings that are occurring. Every single day, every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It’s a national embarrassment and must come to an end.”

Who can credibly disagree with his statement? It is a national embarrassment, but the larger question is how to fix it?

After the mother’s “suicide by cop” claim, the FBI began an investigation. Once they received the warning from the man’s mother, Indianapolis police placed him “on an immediate detention mental health temporary hold,” the FBI agent in charge said. Clearly, he was not held long enough to get the help he needed.

Do you think our culture values life?

When investigating FBI agents reportedly realized he held no white supremacist or other extremist beliefs did they lose interest?

The default position for the president and other progressive politicians seems to be to call for more gun control laws. They never say how a law or laws would deter someone with or without a mental condition and with the intent to murder from acquiring a weapon.

People intent on murder will find a way, no matter how many laws are passed. The prisons are full of inmates for whom laws did not act as a deterrent.

What kind of security was there at the Indianapolis FedEx facility? The shooter was a former FedEx employee. How was he able to gain access to the property? He started shooting at people in the parking lot, but then went inside to continue his rampage. How did he gain access to the building?

We live in a violent culture that does not honor the sacredness of human life. From abortion to shootings in the streets of our major cities, life has become cheap and easily disposable.

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If a political leader can come up with a law that will reverse the cultural rot that has diminished life’s value, I will enthusiastically endorse it. In the interim, there needs to be a greater emphasis on people with mental health problems and in efforts that keep firearms from them.

Strengthening laws allowing authorities to detain such people for longer periods than the Indianapolis shooter was held, while forcing them to get necessary treatment, would be a good start.


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Cal Thomas is one of the most widely syndicated political columnists in America. He is the author most recently of "America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers ... and the Future of the United States" (Zondervan, 2020).