In the wake of another heart-wrenching episode of gun violence in Maine, America finds itself in a somber reflection once again.

The new House Speaker, Mr. Johnson, voiced the sorrow and hope of many when he said, “This is a dark time in America… We have a lot of problems, and we’re really, really hopeful and prayerful. Prayer is appropriate at a time like this — that the evil can end, and this senseless violence can stop.”

Yet, as the echoes of gunfire fade into the somber chants of prayers and hopes, I can’t help but recognize the glaring chasm between our hopes and actionable solutions, and hope is not a strategy, Mr. Speaker.

Teen shooters at Columbine High School, April 1999. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a Navy SEAL, I’ve been intimately acquainted with firearms, understanding their destructive capabilities yet also respecting them as tools when placed in responsible hands.

The debate often veers towards the Second Amendment, a centuries-old provision that finds itself gasping for relevance in today’s dramatically evolved societal landscape. The intricacies of the Second Amendment in the modern era are a far cry from the black powder reality of 1791.

The heart of the matter extends beyond the constitutional debates to a more harrowing reality: the ease with which weapons of mass destruction find their way into the trembling hands of the mentally unstable. A bullet knows no discretion, and in unstable hands, it writes tales of horror we’re all too familiar with.

Most of these violent mass shootings are done by people with severe mental illness, and what has America done to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable?

Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of social epidemics in “The Tipping Point” sheds light on how little things can make a big difference. The gun violence epidemic is no different. It’s a cascade of many factors that include lax gun laws, stigmatization of mental health, and a society that has grown desensitized to violence. We are afraid to show tits on television but will gleefully show someone getting their brains splattered on the back seat of a car.