5 short comments on the Las Vegas massacre: Thinking about the next concert
A day of mourning. A day of baffled mourning. You mourn the dead and pray for the wounded. You also begin mourning the next senseless act of terror, and the one after that. That is, because you know there is no end to this violence in sight, no identifiable explanation that can be dealt with and hence no identifiable remedy.
All the many politicians and pundits who try to explain the source of evil after such events can be divided into two main groups: those who point the finger at people’s behaviour and those who point the finger at government policies.
President Trump, in his speech yesterday, clearly positioned himself in the first group.
President Obama, in every speech he made after every attack during his term as president, positioned himself in the second group.
It would be unwise to describe this as a pragmatic debate about the benefits of gun control. This is a debate about the responsibility and rights of men vs. the responsibility and rights of governments.
Being an Israeli, I am all for gun control. Being a realistic observer, though, I wonder about the call to drain America’s gun swamp. This seems as doable as deporting America’s illegal immigrants. President Trump vowed at some point that all illegal immigrants will have to leave, and his critics were quick to explain that deportation of more than ten million illegal immigrants is not a viable policy. The same critics should be honest enough to acknowledge that collecting 300 million guns is also not a viable proposal.
In other words, even if there is a change of gun policy (which is not forthcoming), it will take many years for this change to have real impact.
My fellow Israelis, who watch Las Vegas from afar with horror and bewilderment, take note: constitutions are great — but they are also very stubborn. Getting rid of guns and of the lobby system is impossible, among other things, because both are guaranteed by constitutional arrangements. This does not necessarily mean that not having a constitution is preferable to having one. It does mean that every system has its flaws, and wishing for a constitution ought not to become a religion.
While you cannot get the guns out of the hands of Americans, this does not mean that you cannot do a better job protecting Americans. It is only a matter of priority and cost. And it is possible that at some point, if attacks become even more common and deadly, the guarding of crowds in public places will become a higher priority that justifies the cost.
What can America do? It can have a better system of preventing people with guns from getting into hotels. It can have a better system of securing concerts, amusement parks and public demonstrations by making sure the crowd is sheltered from shooting from afar. It can have a better system of securing perimeters and making them gun free.
When will this happen? When people hesitate to purchase concert tickets because of security concerns.