Source: S. Christopher Michaels

Deterrence doesn’t work. Numerous studies built on years of research have proven this over generations. The National Institute of Justice published findings in 2016 with five crucial takeaways:

  • The certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment.
  • Sending an individual convicted of a crime to prison isn’t a very effective way to deter crime.
  • Police deter crime by increasing the perception that criminals will be caught and punished.
  • Increasing the severity of punishment does little to deter crime.
  • There is no proof that the death penalty deters crime.

The trend data is unsurprising to anyone who has studied criminal justice. It has also reached a nadir across the country where the effects of being shuttered to one degree or another over fourteen months are tearing apart the fabric of civil society. Another mass shooting destroyed the lives of countless families last night in Indianapolis. At least eight have succumbed to their wounds. More were shot. Once again, determining the motive remains elusive for authorities.

Is it any wonder individuals who have reached their breaking point with society respond in violent ways?

It’s not new that an irrational person will behave in a chaotic and destructive manner. It has been with humanity since the dawn of time. American history is replete with examples of mass murder. No reasonable member of society ever finds peace with it. Still, events that began in the early months of 2020 have accelerated an unraveling process because ‘fifteen days to flatten the curve’ is approaching its fifteenth month of house arrest.

Americans are locked out of their freedoms, though some places — Florida and Texas — choose to ignore the calls for indefinite restrictions by a federal government playing fast and loose with the lives of its citizens. The CDC website offers a list of COVID-specific coping strategies in a rearguard response to the obvious mental health crisis consuming cities and towns. It feels like too little, too late.

Incarceration — including house arrest — is reserved for anyone convicted of breaking the law. It is part of a grand bargain civil societies make to ensure reasonable public safety. However, when an individual’s only crime is living during a pandemic, the edges of that bargain get frayed to a point where distinctions between rational and irrational are blurred.

Two years ago, one in ten adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That number is now four in ten. Substance abuse and thoughts of suicide are also on the rise, though not to the same degree — at least for now. Americans are losing grip on their lives. The mental health crisis bubbles under the surface, erupting in episodic outbursts of mass violence. Law-abiding citizens were not meant to be locked away from their lives and loved ones for any length of time.

The government’s response is to pass more seemingly arbitrary dictums through the process of an executive order. President Biden has signed forty-nine such orders, bypassing the checks and balances put in place precisely to prevent rule by fiat. Simultaneously, runaway members of Congress propose bill after bill that only serve to distance themselves from the very Americans who elected them.

The apex of liberty seems to have passed. Individual rights and freedoms begin an inevitable decline when a government ignores its mandate to respect the representative process. Its citizens ignore their obligation to demand better. Of course, stimulus checks soften the blow for many Americans who don’t recognize what they’re giving up for pennies on the dollar. Another spending proposal lurks around the corner. The running tally brings the cost-per-citizen to more than $17,000 thus far.

Each of these topics is worthy of its own investigation. Taken together, they represent a systemic failure destined to change the face of society. Perhaps, that is the target for proponents of the Great Reset. Rahm Emanuel is famously quoted, “never let a crisis go to waste.” The progressive commandment is followed with religious fervor as leftists goose step to the march of ‘Death to America.’

Famed French sociologist Emile Durkheim would say that Americans suffer from a breakdown in organic solidarity. When social institutions are shuttered, bankrupted, or canceled, another bond is broken between man and society. Once enough bonds break, individuals rupture out of their communal cocoons, exacting vengeance on anyone in their path. Quite simply, an irrational person experiencing that level of discord has nothing left to lose.

The totality of circumstances points to a heightened immunity to deterrence. Small-scale rebellions take the form of not wearing a face mask or ignoring local curfews. Large-scale rioting continues to plague cities — some of which were already burned to the ground. Proposed legislation to further curtail individual liberties, such as gun rights, gain momentum among progressive legislators and their media stooges. More bonds are broken as more Americans are pushed to the brink.

The fundamental failure of civic leaders to recognize that increased sanctions do not result in desired conformity is a disappointing lesson that too many generations must learn firsthand. The British Bloody Code from the 18th and 19th centuries offer the single greatest example of this lesson. More than 200 offenses were punishable by death. Still, it did not deter mankind from its ways. Locking Americans in their homes under COVID arrest, stripping them of their liberties, and throwing deflated dollars at the problem only cuts deeper at nearly-severed social bonds. The Rubicon has been crossed. Too many have nothing left to lose.

Is it any wonder mass shootings are on the rise? Is it any wonder that Americans don’t fear deterrence?