Are some people just born "bad"?
By now, most of the nation has realized the horrible reality of the current allegations coming out of my home state. An innocent Australian baseball player named Chris Lane was shot and killed by three teenagers in the small Oklahoma town which is home of the "Duncan Demons." Sadly, the recent revelations bring a new, more menacing meaning, to that mascot.
Gun Control Argument
In the midst of the national debate regarding gun control, this incident will no doubt add more fuel to the fire. Gun advocates probably find some solace in the fact that this at least wasn't another instance of some crazed individual grabbing an assault rifle and mowing down a group of bystanders. By all accounts, the weapon used was a .22 caliber revolver.
We as a nation would be hard-pressed to tighten control regarding the possession of handguns. Moreover, what mechanism could we put in place to keep them from falling into the wrong hands, either through theft or illegal possession?
The real question though, which I believe requires a helluva lot more soul searching than any of us are willing to engage in, regards just what in the world is wrong with our society when we have teenagers "bored" enough to commit murder? We can make our new-found "war on guns" the focus and gloss over the rest, but that is not going to address the dark under belly of the issue.
Running a criminal defense law firm, I see a lot of criminal allegations that make me step back and scratch my head... you start to ask yourself, "what went wrong here?"... "How did this situation develop, and where does it stem from?" Many of my clients' personal demons result from some past trauma, or some issue that has had a hand in molding the monster. However, the more I think about the allegations in question, the more I find myself at a loss. "Boredom" is obviously not the answer...
No doubt the media will delve deeper into the back stories of these teenage gunmen, whose ages range from fifteen to seventeen. Their defense attorneys will have to look into all relevant circumstances in an attempt to find some hope of mitigation. But that will likely occur on the local level.
Collectively, as a nation, we have to take an objective look at our youth and ask ourselves if there is anything we can do, or something we should stop doing, that can promote a safer future for our younger generations. What can we do to keep questions of "right and wrong" from being mere matters of perception as opposed to directions on a moral compass?
When I was a teenager, I grew up in a small town. Truth be told, it was about three times smaller than Duncan, Oklahoma. Believe you me, I got bored. I got real bored, in fact. And yes, I ended up in my fair share of trouble from time to time. I got in fights, I drank and smoked, and I may have vandalized a few things here and there, but I never once thought about turning a gun on someone.
More than likely, that is due to the support system I had growing up. But even those kids I grew up with who weren't fostered in the same home environment I was didn't do anything as reckless as grab a gun and shoot a stranger. Sure, some of my friends from those days have gone on to become hardened criminals, and have probably used weapons somewhere along the way... but not at fifteen, barely removed from junior high... and not "just for fun."
Finding the Cause for Criminal Behavior
So what is the root issue? Is it the internet? Is it violent video games? Is it heavy metal music? Probably none of the above, actually. I'm sure we will learn over the course of the litigation that these teenagers suffered from a cocktail of poverty, negligent upbringing, learning disabilities and/or mental illness, and weak personality traits that finally surfaced in the most unreasonable way possible. But maybe that is overlooking the most obvious explanation. Maybe some people are just born bad.
We can mull over all of the potential reasons to explain why someone so young could do something so "evil," or we can accept the very real possibility that when horrible things happen, they sometimes happen at the hands of horrible people. If that is the truth, then there is no logical rhyme or reason for why some people are born "bad." And if that is the case, there is no amount of gun control or oversight to cure that problem.
Still, for whatever reason, an innocent man lost his life, and his killers have no reasonable explanation for their actions. Now, two of them face charges of first degree murder and potential sentences of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Under United States Supreme Court case law, it is unconstitutional to sentence a defendant under the age of eighteen to the death penalty.