In the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Connecticut everyone is playing the blame game. On the left they are blaming guns. On the right they are blaming the mental health system. Some people on both sides are blaming violent video games and movies. I think they are all missing the mark.
I blame our government. Not because they aren't tracking mentally disturbed people, seizing guns and censoring TV and video games. I blame them for creating the conditions which trigger the mentally ill young men who carry out these shootings.
That young men in the 16-24 year old age range have a higher propensity towards adjustment disorders leading to true mental illness is nothing new. But there is a perception that members of this group are more prone to act out violently today than they did in the past. Assuming that this is true and acknowledging the facts that guns and violent entertainment have been around since long before this rise in violent outbursts, I think we have to look for another specific trigger.
When you put guards and metal detectors in your schools, when you invasively search airline passengers, when you begin to spy on your own citizens: you create an atmosphere of fear and the expectation of violence. The average citizen finds this heightened level of state security oppressive. Red light cameras, TSA checkpoints, random blood draws, internet data mining and new security laws like the warrantless indefinite detention of citizens in the NDAA all contribute to this environment. For someone who is troubled and prone to paranoia this creates a world which is directly threatening.
In addition, the ongoing economic crisis and the uncertainty it creates puts stress on everyone. And again, this is a problem which has its origins in government policy, a government which is not only increasingly intrusive, but also clearly irresponsible.