Let’s talk about the why, not just the how

I am certain that none of my children will ever walk into a school, a mall, a dance club, or anywhere and open fire on innocent people. I’m absolutely positive, and I’ll bet you could say the same about yours.

I am also sure that plenty of studies have been done on the psychological makeup of mass shooters . . . what kinds of mental issues they have or violent ideologies. But maybe we should also be doing studies of people who would never, ever do such a thing. What is it about them that gives us confidence that we can safely be in the same room with them? If we can identify a few things, wouldn’t it be wise to foster and encourage them in society if our goal is to prevent these senseless slaughters?

There are three factors that I can almost guarantee if true in a person’s life will make such a dastardly deed inconceivable to him or her.

An intact, loving family
The first is a loving mother and father in the home. But that’s actually three factors in one – father, mother, and love. Children who are raised by both natural parents who genuinely and demonstrably love them are much less likely to get up one day and decide to murder innocent people. But young men in particular who grow up without the irreplaceable influence of a father who loves them carry a void that they must find a way to fill. Many young people have never known an intact family, and others have had one irreparably broken by divorce, which can harm them just as much.

And real love disciplines. A child who is not properly disciplined for exhibiting bad behavior is far more likely to continue it. And I believe that a child who does not get help from his parents in taming behavior he innately knows is wrong feels betrayed and unloved by them.

Motherhood is an extremely important job
The second factor is having the mother as primary caregiver, with the child spending little time, if any, in daycare. I know there are some mothers who must work to support their families, and the absence of the father is often the reason for that (see factor one). But many women work full-time mainly to satisfy their personal desires for recognition or significance or material possessions, passing off their most significant responsibility to one who cannot give to her child what only she can.

Of course I’m not saying that kids who are put in daycare will grow up to be criminals. What I am saying is that children whose mothers sacrifice a career and all the perks that go with it, who are willing to take on the responsibility of diapers, discipline, and domestic drudgery so that their little ones know the security of a mother’s near-constant presence, will probably not be on a list of mass shooters.

We needn’t fear those who fear God
And the third factor that should be fostered if we want to end these terrible tragedies is genuine faith in God. I know my children will never be on that list because they know the God who is Love and who said to love our neighbor as ourself. They know that he loves them and that they could never do something so contrary to his character and his will.

Honestly, it does not surprise me that young people are getting stoned, committing suicide, and some are even capturing the attention of an entire country with one extreme, violent act. How ultimately meaningless are their lives if they exist merely because of random mutations and natural selection. We send them to school expecting them to be taught truths that will prepare them for successful lives that will bring them happiness and satisfaction, but it’s there that they learn there is no God and no design or purpose for their existence. Which leads many of them to lives of dissatisfaction and despair, and for some, to a deadly act that he knows will forever change his meaningless life. But . . . why should he care?

Again, I’m not saying that individuals from single-parent homes who don’t believe in God are destined to be involved in criminal activity. Only that a strong foundation of family and faith is an excellent predictor of someone who will never cause such grief, heartache, and anger as every mass shooter has.

So we can talk about gun control. But it will be immensely more productive to focus instead on how we can foster stronger families and encourage rather than ridicule and restrict real, life-changing faith.