It's hard to criticize and poke fun at the Kansas political system, without taking a moment to pause and reflect on yesterday's sick carnage, one of the worst shooting rampages to happen in Kansas, in the small town of Hesston.
Hesston was once known for being wiped out by an unexpected F5 tornado in 1990, destroying 226 homes and 21 businesses. The people were tough, they rebuilt, and for the next 26 years lived a quiet life you'd expect from a small community.
The shooting rampage happened at Excel Industries, the largest single employer in Hesston with 500 employees. They've had 37 percent per year growth for the past decade, becoming one of the world's leading manufacturers of large mowing equipment. By all reasonable signs -- a growing business, expanding employees, and long-term job prospects -- this was a pretty good place to work.
So why did an employee come back to work to shoot the place up, killing 3 and wounding 14 before the police could kill the shooter?
We'll probably never know, and that makes it even worse for those trying to heal. But what is known is that a convicted felon, someone who shouldn't have ever had access to a weapon, arrogantly flaunted his shooting prowess on Facebook -- and no one bothered to turn him in.
This is the sad reality that we are stuck in every time a mass shooter, who shouldn't have had guns in the first place, hits the media. Someone knew they had the guns, yet no one ever bothered to turn them in. Even worse, in some instances like the San Bernardino shootings, someone knowingly bought weapons for a person that they knew shouldn't have them.
I definitely don't advocate a 'Gestapo-like' form of policing where neighbors snitch out neighbors for the slightest offense. But if I knew my neighbor was building a bomb, illegally possessing weapons, or making erratic threats, why wouldn't I feel obligated to turn them in?
And yet, as a rule, we don't.
This isn't a Second Amendment debate; this is a social responsibility debate, centering on the fact that the community-based policing model has totally yielded to the paramilitary policing model in almost all locales. In the past, citizens were expected to help enforce the law and were called up on posses to do so by order of the local sheriff.
With great rights come even greater responsibilities. But we've lost track of the simplest responsibility we've had since the founding of our government: the expectation that we will help maintain a lawful and peaceful society. Instead we have a 'not my business' attitude that eventually causes enormous problems.
Many advocate arming citizens to take care of the crises as it arises, but in this case, Kansas has some of the least-restrictive concealed carry laws in the nation. Why are so few advocating doing anything before the crises arise--before the bullets fly?
There's no good answer for this, but at some point we are going to have to stop putting up with the violence -- and realistically do what we can to be part of the solution. Even if it occasionally means ratting out a felon neighbor flaunting his AK-47 on Facebook.
Photo Source: The Wichita Eagle via AP