In the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University yesterday there are many suggesting simple solutions to a complex problem.
Unfortunately, complex problems rarely have simple solutions.
We grieve with those who were affected by the senseless act of a cowardly shooter. Close to the event it is impossible to separate emotion from clear thinking about implications for the future. Of course we must, as a community, university and culture, look for solutions.
One prevalent comment is the solution of eliminating guns. As someone wrote online, “No guns, no shootings.” While I sympathize with the heart of the sentiment, the conclusion is erroneous.
Consider a prison environment where weapons of any kind are prohibited. Despite the best efforts of guards and prison authorities, prisoners still get stabbed. Knives are forbidden, but those intent on doing harm don’t care–they make their own.
My purpose here isn’t to debate guns or gun control but to comment on the desire for simple solutions. If a problem like school shootings were easy to address, we would have stopped those tragedies long ago. It is a complex problem that will require more than simple solutions; it will require those willing to grapple with the complexities to arrive at a solution that, like the problem, will be complex. And that is always a challenge of leadership.