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There should be no better protected sites in our free country than schools, churches and hospitals. They are places where expectations of safety and security are justified and deserved.

My friends, if we can protect points of commerce as well as even our local athletic events with armed security, it's apparent we've reached the point in 2018 where we also must find effective ways to do the same for those who can't protect themselves from those who wantonly kill.

I sometimes wish we still lived before the 1990s when not even the most deranged chose to so frequently mass murder the innocent out of urges to commit irrational slaughter, as if they were actors in a violent video game.

Obviously we don't. So how do we adequately adjust to prevent further horror? More of the same hand-wringing and emotional political posturing are unacceptable. We already have lost so many precious lives because of our paralysis at dealing with a complicated dilemma.

Legally restricting or prohibiting firearms as a remedy might sound like an immediate workable idea to some. But it's not even close. Those willing to commit suicide couldn't care less about the law. Seen the murder stats lately in supposedly gun-controlled Chicago?

We all know this emotionally comforting yet ineffective and knee-jerk approach is akin to blaming cars for highway deaths, or blades, or pressure cookers, or fertilizer, or hammers, or anti-freeze for murders by those intent on killing.

A modicum of thought assures our problem lies within the minds of those who commit such acts. Their hands and arms and eyes acted as the tools, but the cause and origin stemmed from the electrical impulses of intangible thoughts. We can see and touch a gun which makes it the simple-minded target of repulsion.

A brilliant little book by James Allen called As a Man Thinketh explains our problem better than I can. In only 72 pages, Allen explains how everything we bring into the world, good or bad, begins as a seed in the mind. From our thoughts blossom the fruits of all human action. "Man is made or unmade by himself," Allen writes. "...Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. ... The body is the servant of the mind."

Where do Americans turn to recognize those most likely, through their behavior and words, to harbor dark and threatening actions? First to their family, friends and social media. I also believe teachers can clearly recognize when one is troubled and needing assistance.

By help, I mean professional counseling by those skilled at hopefully helping transform the potentially devastating thoughts in a child's mind and help steer negative thoughts in positive directions. I realize what a enormous role a child's home life has in shaping behavior, including the widespread absence of positive male role models.

Like everything, this proactive approach will require money. Having publicly funded mental health counseling for each school district would require taxpayers to vote for sponsoring it. Any effective remedy to end this unbearable madness our society's ills have helped foster will be costly to implement. It's one price we must pay.

Another equally costly idea is to hire more trained armed guards at schools, up to and including retired and qualified military veterans and police part-time. Yet, even at that, students depart their safety of their buildings en masse at the same time daily. Remember the Jonesboro school shooters who simply pulled the fire alarm and waited outside?

I've also written before of my belief that, today, every adult American who is qualified and trained should acquire a concealed-carry permit. Yeah, it's sad we've come to this. But we must face the reality in 2018 America that self-defense only makes sense.

A story by Liel Leibovitz in the online blog Tablet told of Lior Nedivi, an independent firearms examiner in Israel and co-author of an in-depth report comparing Israel's strict gun laws and faith-based culture with the U.S. Nedivi quotes writer Robert Heinlein saying: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his act with his life."

Nedivi said Israel is indeed a polite society because of that fact, saying, based on Heinlein's belief: "When everyone has a gun, guns are no longer seen as talismans by weak, frightened and unstable men seeking a sense of self-validation, but as killing machines that are to be handled with the utmost caution and care."

Finally, another large piece of the puzzle in helping resolve the horror of school shootings clearly lies with better background checks (also see Israel), as well as law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and local police who receive warnings about a troubled person, often well before any killing begins.

Yet, too often, as in the shameful case of Florida, they have failed to adequately follow up. Such inaction is inexcusable when we realize nothing else matters if we can't rely on those who are responsible for properly doing their jobs.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at

Editorial on 02/25/2018

Print Headline: Our complex dilemma

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  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    February 25, 2018 at 4:40 a.m.

    Well said Mike, well said.

  • RBear
    February 25, 2018 at 8:18 a.m.

    Once again, Masterson moves to the fringe with no real solutions other than the talking points of the NRA. "I've also written before of my belief that, today, every adult American who is qualified and trained should acquire a concealed-carry permit. Yeah, it's sad we've come to this. But we must face the reality in 2018 America that self-defense only makes sense."
    Mike, it's come to that BECAUSE the US has the HIGHEST ratio of gun ownership in the world. The NRA and gun nuts have brought us to this point. More guns will not solve the problem. You are basically advocating for going back to the days of the Old West where everyone packed a six-shooter. You've been watching too many Westerns.
    But let's talk facts. The facts are that in 33 nations that enacted RTC laws saw increases from 13-15% in the 10 years after enactment. The NRA is a public arm, not of gun owners, but of the gun industry. Their primary purpose is to make sure more weapons are sold and there are the least amount of restrictions on which weapons can be sold. The NRA is losing ground in terms of membership and public support. Numerous corporations are distancing themselves from the organization because of its stance to double down after this shooting.
    Will anything change with this administration and Congress. Most likely not because both branches are beholding to the NRA and are dealing with an issue illiterate base who cannot dispute the facts when presented.

  • 23cal
    February 25, 2018 at 9:05 a.m.

    "I sometimes wish we still lived before the 1990s when not even the most deranged chose to so frequently mass murder the innocent out of urges to commit irrational slaughter...."
    One would think a responsible writer would take the small amount of time to google up 'U.S. mass shootings" before submitting such inaccurate drivel. I am so very tired of this guy publishing falsehoods to under gird his political bias. ADG should be ashamed.
    " if they were actors in a violent video game." I'm inferring this is an underhanded way to blame video games for violence. Studies show that is not the case. Don't buy this falsehood, either.
    "Seen the murder stats lately in supposedly gun-controlled Chicago?" Lame. Have you seen the gun violence rates by state? Did you notice the states with the most lax gun laws have the highest per capita rates of gun violence?
    Can Mike show that Chicago wouldn't be worse without its stringent gun laws? By the way, the murder stats in Chicago---the traditional whipping boy city of the gun nuts---are lower than a lot of other cities.
    "Legally restricting or prohibiting firearms as a remedy might sound like an immediate workable idea..." Damn right. Look at Japan, Australia, U.K, and others: gun bans, no mass shootings. Anyone who can't connect those don't dots can't add 2+2 and get 4.
    Geez, what a tired, thoughtless, cliched screed of standard far right inaccurate talking points. Too easy to debunk everything in it, and not worth the time it takes. Mike needs to stick to hog farms, he's good at that.

  • BoudinMan
    February 25, 2018 at 9:09 a.m.

    MM is a very useful idiot for the NRA.

  • DoubleBlind
    February 25, 2018 at 9:19 a.m.

    O.M.F.G. Put a skirt on Masterson and he could pass for Dana Loesch, in print anyway. What a DESPICABLE position Again with the STATISTICS argument. Hey, Mike, what about terrorism? Terrorists STATISTICALLY kill very few people. Yet your kind posits that regardless, most terrorists are Muslims and therefore Muslims must be BANNED. Yet you don’t apply that same logic to assault weapons even when the victims are children. What a low life, hypocritical POS you are.

  • DoubleBlind
    February 25, 2018 at 9:53 a.m.

    3 steps I suggest MM take immediately:
    1-Read Richard Mason’s article
    2-Smack his head hard against the nearest door jamb
    3-Print a retraction

  • TimberTopper
    February 25, 2018 at 10:24 a.m.

    Mike, you need to concentrate on saving the Buffalo.

  • Firefighter
    February 25, 2018 at 12:52 p.m.

    In the small rural community north of me, I know of no household that is without guns including a lot of AR15 style rifles. Most men, women, and children (ages of 10 or more) know how to use guns. Almost all hunt. From asking around 40 men, I found two that belong to the NRA. Concealed carry permits are common among men and women. Local crime involving guns is almost unheard of. Trump carried the local vote by over 80%. And this is in a usually democratic supporting area. So the NRA is not the problem. Guns are not the problem. The problem is an urban people problem. How to solve the gun issue? I don't know. I suspect that you don't either.

  • Delta2
    February 25, 2018 at 1:05 p.m.

    DoubleBlind, the thought of Masterson in a skirt just made me throw up in my mouth.

    With that out of the way, I'll admit there was one redeeming aspect about this piece...the part about more professional counseling, with the costs being justified. The rest of this article is just hillbilly trash. I'm all for owning shotguns, rifles (the regular hunting variety), even a handgun, but I have no desire to carry one every day. Definitely would interfere with work. Even though I enjoy those old Westerns, no thank you to taking that backward step.

  • GeneralMac
    February 25, 2018 at 2:25 p.m.

    23Cal..........9:05 AM........4th paragraph........

    If you want to praise countries that have no 2nd Amendment rights, why don't you just come right out and state you believe in getting rid of the 2nd Amendment.

    RBear sure shot his mouth off immediately after the shooting.
    Praising Germany despite knowing full well German citizens have no right to bear arms and one must.." show need" own a gun.( self defense is NOT considered a "need "

    Why don't you come right out and advocate repealing the 2nd Amendment in stead of praising countries that have no 2nd Amendment ?

    Is it because repealing the 2nd Amendment would never pass in the US.