Yet another shooting story to tell you about, this one happening Monday in Texas, not far from Texas A&M University. It wasn’t an anarchistic, terroristic, or racist rampage in a crowded theater or temple though. Instead, this one took place at the residence where the now-deceased shooter had been living. Apparently, a law-enforcement officer went to the door of the residence to deliver an eviction notice to the shooter, who responded with gunfire, killing two people (an officer and a bystander) and wounding several others before being gunned down by police.
The shooter’s mother reportedly has made a public statement in which she voiced regret that her son’s “illness” caused Monday’s tragedy. I doubt it. I’m not saying that he was probably the mentally-healthiest guy in town. I’m sure he wasn’t. But I’ll bet he knew that he was shooting a gun at police officers who had come to the door for a peaceful and lawful purpose, which would mean, if he had lived, that he should’ve been found guilty of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder whether he had an “illness” or not. (And if in fact this guy had a prior history of behavioral volatility, then once again, we may be seeing some deadly results of the “catch and release” or “deinstitutionalization” policy that we’ve pursued in both our mental health and justice systems since the 1960’s.)
Sounds to me like this was a guy who essentially just felt entitled to continue to live on someone else’s property without paying the other person and/or without respecting other rights of the property owner and/or neighbors (those are generally the ways in which people end up getting eviction notices). Of course there’s a sense of entitlement down at the core of all of the recent shooting stories — entitlement to take the lives of innocent others in order to effectuate or draw attention to the shooters’ own ideas about how society should be — but in this Texas case, it seems like entitlement’s pretty much the beginning and end of the story.
As you may know, I’ve written a lot about entitlement attitudes, how they degrade our nation in a myriad of ways, and what we all ought to be doing about it (see http://www.wnd.com/2009/03/92966/ and http://www.wnd.com/2009/03/93077/). And in this political campaign season, I’d just add that we’re not helping matters by referring to one government program after another as “entitlements.” When we do that, we only reinforce the delusion that certain Americans are “entitled” to the fruits of other Americans’ labor, and that’s just plain wrong — when low-income Americans get financial assistance from higher-earning Americans, it’s not an “entitlement,” it’s charity, and the recipients ought to feel grateful, not entitled.
If you click on the second link above and read my piece on how to steer our nation away from entitlement attitudes, I can also add that new research has found mental health benefits in addition to moral and fiscal benefits for kids with attitudes of gratitude (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/08/05/grateful-teens-may-have-less-risk-for-depression-other-problems). Teenage study participates who felt grateful for what they had, regardless of socioeconomic status, tended to be significantly less likely to be depressed than teens who felt entitled. It’s no surprise to me, but for parents who haven’t been practicing the 10 steps that I prescribe in my piece, it’s just one more reason to start (i.e. it points to yet another way in which you could do your kids a lifelong disservice by raising them with entitlement attitudes).