Editor’s note: Since publication, police have named the shooter.
On Friday, during an after-concert meeting with fans, Christina Grimmie was murdered by a man with a gun. The shooter then killed himself in the struggle that ensued. Grimmie was a pop singer who had starred on The Voice and was currently singing with the band, Before You Exit. According to local police, the venue where the concert took place, The Plaza Live, has no metal detectors and does not conduct pat-down searches of visitors, but there are “security guards who wear polo shirts,” though they are unarmed, and they do check bags. The Plaza bans concealed weapons, including firearms, for all the good that accomplishes. Orlando Police Chief John Mina has not given the name of the shooter and says that law enforcement is looking for a motive.
Advocates of gun control have predictably taken to social media to push their agenda in response to this outrage, even while the incident once again demonstrates that an officially gun-free zone is no protection against violence.
We don’t know much of anything about the shooter at present, other than the facts that he was white and male. This leads to certain conclusions that may or may not apply to him specifically, but likely do. And they certainly apply to any of a number of others who have behaved exactly as he did.
One infamous example is John Hinckley, the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan. His actions were an attempt to draw the attention of Jodie Foster, having modeled himself after the movie character, Travis Bickle. And Bickle was based on the man who attempted to assassinate Alabama Governor George Wallace in an effort “to escape anonymity and powerlessness.”
It’s easy enough to claim that we’d all be safer if only we could disarm the crazies, though violence isn’t any more likely a behavior among people with mental illnesses than with the general population, and how we’re supposed to remove well over 300,000,000 guns from private hands and seal our borders to keep more from coming in is never explained. But the much harder work of addressing the deeper problems gets dodged.
We live in a culture that has become obsessed with celebrity. This in no way is to blame the celebrities themselves. They do the jobs we ask them to do, and in many cases, they offer work of genuine aesthetic value. We can appreciate the artistry and pageantry that musicians and actors put on and even accept the profound insights that the arts reach. We also can have a good time enjoying the popular. Things go awry, though, when we come to the conclusion that the people on the stage somehow have a value as human beings that others do not.
We’ve allowed a culture in which the ability to sing on key (or tuned by machinery) and at high volume or to throw a ball with sufficient accuracy is seen as being of greater importance than curing a disease, discovering a principle of reality, or defending the nation in battle. As I said, I am not trying to denigrate celebrities themselves. What we all need to do—and yes, some more than others—is teach and believe the value of each life. Fulfillment is to be found in doing interesting work and as much good as we’re each capable of, regardless of how much attention that draws.
This isn’t a call for participation trophies. It is a suggestion that rewarding true achievement—not the cookie-cutter stuff we get with standardized testing, but the genuine article—would go a long way toward reducing the number of killers we have in our society who feel that outrages are their only path to meaning in their lives. Unlike gun control, this would actually work and would make society better all around for doing it.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.