Thursday, October 15, 2015

The cowboy culture comes to campus at UT-Austin. Will it work?

I'm of an age when everything is now 50 years ago.  For instance, this weekend, my wife and I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our first date.  A couple of years ago I taught a Law & Justice course inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.  And 50 years ago a nut named Whitman went up into the tower at the University of Texas in Austin and shot dozens of people.

The Lone Star State is marking that anniversary with a new "concealed carry" law that allows concealed weapons on the campus. 
As this story attests, lots of people are upset with the new statute.

Here's the chapter from my book, "Al Qaeda Goes to College," that includes the story of the Texas Tower Massacre:

The endless string of mass shootings that occurs in this country, often aimed at schools and colleges, leaves us all scratching our heads.  The concealed-carry laws are one attempt to meet the issue head on.  There is precedent for them in Israel.  Also, I guess, in the Old West, including Austin, Texas.
 As I've noted in this space on other occasions, the American problem is not the number of guns in our country.  Canada can match us on a per capita basis, yet rarely experiences such shootings.  

The number of nuts who can get guns is certainly problematic and tougher laws involving background checks might help.  

It was no help that Congress enacted a law a few years ago that protects retailers from lawsuits for selling the guns to the killers.  That, it seems to me, was a step in the wrong direction.

But the bottom-line issue is our culture.  Fifty years ago (naturally), media guru Marshall McLuhan said that Americans view the world through a rear view mirror  He said we lived in "Bonanzaland," referencing a popular cowboy show on TV at the time.

He was right then and it hasn't changed now.   The myth of the rugged individual permeates our national mindset.  It's one reason we worship the wealthy and famous, while working three jobs to make ends meet, instead of flocking to labor unions to force a more equitable distribution of wealth.  It's why Donald Trump can preach hate and be applauded.

Until that mindset changes --- and remember, it took two world wars and a Holocaust to change the Europeans' warlike mindset --- the shootings won't stop.

That being the case, maybe arming more "good guys" actually is the way to go.  As another guru once said, "We'll see...".

No comments:

Post a Comment