Morris: School Shootings and Climate Change

March 19, 2018

 by Leo Morris

I am a heartless monster who doesn’t care that our children are being slaughtered in their schools. I am an inhuman fiend indifferent to the plight of future generations who will inherit the ravaged planet we will leave them.

I will be saddened but not terribly surprised if that is a common reaction to this column. I write in defense of freedom and so must be prepared for the predictable pushback from those who say the abuse of freedom by a few is justification for a reduction of freedom for all. To disagree is to selfishly put individual liberty ahead of the common good.

For the common good narrative to work, we must not just be afraid. We must believe the threat to our safety or security is so grave and so imminent that any infringement of our rights is merely a trifling inconvenience.

Therefore, the news that Indiana’s “red flag law” is garnering almost universal praise is delivered in the context of school shooting rampages reaching crisis proportions. If all of our children are at risk, how can we object to the confiscation of guns from a few people perceived as dangerous, especially when they will get a hearing in a few days or weeks to ensure their precious civil liberties aren’t being hurt?

Never mind that the “crisis” has been greatly exaggerated. School shootings are actually down over the last 20 years, according to an analysis of the data by Northeastern University Professor James Alan Fox. Mass school shootings “are extremely rare,” and there “is no epidemic.” And never mind that there are ways to make schools even safer. Indiana’s is one of the state legislatures to allow schools to train and arm staff members — why isn’t there almost universal praise for that? Indeed, why isn’t there a nationwide demand to end the insane “gun free zones” that deranged shooters seek out?

The global warmists haven’t been able to sufficiently scare us with dire warnings about the consequences of a few degrees of temperature change in 100 years, so now they want us to tremble at the evidence they say is already here. Indiana’s climate is already hotter and wetter, says a gloomy new report from Purdue University, and farmers are facing increasing stress from too-hot days and too much flooding.

Never mind that Purdue is basing its warming predictions on the average of 10 “climate models,” which don’t exactly have the greatest record for accuracy. And that “climate deniers” are chided about the difference between weather and climate whenever they cite cold and snowy winters as their evidence. And that there will be positive as well as negative effects from the climate’s evolution.

No, just be prepared to shell out more and more money to government for the privilege of having it severely limit your ability to live your life as you see fit. And shut up, it’s for the good of the planet.

Certainly, we all want children to be safe in their schools. But we should be willing to discuss the civil-rights tradeoffs we might be asked to make. Yes, guns should be kept away from those who shouldn’t have them, but it matters how we define such people and what we do after that. Go get some perspective from someone who suffers from severe mental illness. who is no more likely to go on a shooting rampage than anybody else but whose reputation is taking quite a beating in discussion of red-flag laws.

We all want to leave the planet better off than we found it. But we can’t ignore a cost-benefit analysis of how to do that. Not to seem heartlessly indifferent about it, but how do we balance the lives we want to lead with the lives our grandchildren should have? Do we have to turn off the lights and live in caves so they won’t have to move a half-mile further inland?

Give me facts, and give me logic. Don’t play on my emotions. Don’t try to put the fear of God in me and pretend we’re having a rational discussion.

Of all the values we revere in a constitutional republic, freedom is the most important. With it, all things are possible. Without it, none are. The burden of proof should always be on those who would diminish it, never on those who defend it.

Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is this year’s winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at


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