On September 11th, 2001 when a foreign enemy attacked this nation, everyone laid down their differences for a season and agreed on immediate forceful retaliation against Al-Qaeda forces in the Middle East. Church attendees crossed denominational lines to pray together. Military branches who had often previously bucked horns came under immediate submission to their Commander in Chief; procedural differences were laid aside to get the job done. Mega corporations conducted massive fund drives because those normally fierce competitors had a common goal; to protect our nation and ourselves and to support the families of the innocent 911 victims.
It seems to me that we could all agree that we now have several new enemies attacking this great nation. One of the foremost and saddest is the rise in frequency of mass shootings and violence. In Littleton Colorado two teenage boys opened fire at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999, wounding 21 and killing 12 other students, a teacher, and themselves. This tragedy shocked the nation. Since that time 554 more students have been the victims of school shootings in America. Sadly, this seemed to be the forerunner of a trend which records at least 2000 people have been killed or injured by US citizen initiated mass shootings or bombings since 1999!
America, once again we have a common enemy! These ongoing acts of violence in public places need our immediate and undivided attention. After studying these atrocities, especially in schools, I feel that one can find many common denominators in all of them; anger, hatred, prejudice and revenge. However, there is another factor, which many agree is present in a very high percentage of these shootings. It is the perpetrators’ desire for name recognition. In almost every case the shooters, or the attackers in the case of bombings or stabbings, want everyone to know their names. They want to be recognized. As sick as it is true in media circles that “no news is good news”, grievously our human nature is all too quick to listen to or read stories or watch the evening news as they report the bloodiest, or most gruesome details of the most recent tragedies. Sadly, the media world capitalizes on the fact that negative news sells newspapers and generates advertising. “Get me that story!” is shouted in every newsroom from coast to coast and now it’s the cry on social media as well. So exactly what is the greatest desire for all of the world to know? Everyone wants to know, “WHO DID IT?”
This proposed solution is not original to this op-ed writer. Many have bounced around this potential solution for years, yet it is deemed impossible by most, so it loses altitude before barely starting to get off the ground. However, if we as Americans could just unite around this one idea, even though it would probably take a presidential proclamation to enact, we could better protect our children and all those we hold dear.
Let’s all agree to not publish or report the shooter’s or violent actor’s name anywhere!” Let’s take that player out of the list and watch the public acts of mass violence quickly grind down to a minimum! Is that too much to ask CNN and Fox News to agree to? Is it too much for The Washington Post and the New York Times to shake hands over? Could the FBI and the local law enforcement agencies keep at the scene information locked as tight as the Queen of England’s medical records? Could all the institutions of the United States come together for this common goal just like they did after 911? Could the neighborhoods of America do this for our children’s safety? Could the Smiths and the Jones and the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s come together for this common cause? Let’s quit making these no name killers famous around the world! Let’s start by doing the impossible; making it illegal to name the shooter until it has to be hashed out in a court of law. Let’s show our kids we care by simply keeping our mouths closed! Let’s stop giving these violent offenders their coveted epitaph, with a wiser and safer unified America!