Five Best Tuesday Columns

Mark Ragins on reacting to Aurora, Joe Nocera on the Penn State sanctions, Arthur Herman on modernizing the Pentagon, Charles Lane on European gun sales, and DeWayne Wickham on Michele Bachmann.

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Mark Ragins in the Los Angeles Times on reacting to Aurora Ragins, a psychiatrist, notes that many Americans might feel reassured if mental health issues factored into the Aurora shooting, though statistically, mentally ill people aren't more likely to commit murder. "When we're a little calmer, it might be reasonable to ask whether our current funding levels for mental health or our current gun laws or our current mental health services on college campuses are effective or not. But we have to examine these issues knowing two things: that nothing can make us truly safe, and that such large-scale violence is extremely rare." The appropriate response after a trauma is not to "hunker down" or rush to a policy judgement, but to comfort one another, he says.

Joe Nocera in The New York Times on NCAA sanctions Nocera, who has advocated that the NCAA temporarily end Penn State's football program, reacts to news that the organization fined the school $60 million, erased its wins, and reduced its scholarships. "On the one hand, the sanctions point to the degree to which the N.C.A.A. views college sports through the prism of money," he says. "On the other hand, the sanctions ensure that Penn State will be awful for the foreseeable future. Its fans will have to find other things to do instead of investing their collective identity in Penn State football. That will be a useful discipline."

Arthur Herman in The Wall Street Journal on making the Pentagon efficient Herman says that automatic sequester or not, there will likely be cuts to the military budget in the coming years, and they should turn to the private sector -- as they did in WWII -- to help weather the cuts while remaining strong. "[M]odernization isn't going to happen until the Pentagon reinvents how it buys the weapons and equipment it needs," he says. As in the '40s, we should turn to our best companies to design equipment, asking Apple for an "iFighter" for instance. He points to several other business principals we learned from our arming process in WWII, all with the goal to "preserve America's military leadership before it's too late."

Charles Lane in The Washington Post on Europe's gun sales Europe, it's often pointed out, cannot understand America's relatively lax gun control laws, but rarely do we consider ways the continent's manufacturers benefit from our gun culture. "For all the tut-tutting across the pond, America's gun culture exists in symbiosis with Europe's own culture of precision manufacturing — of which the [Austrian made] Glock is a notable expression," he says. E.U. members shipped a million handguns to the U.S. in 2010, he says. He proposes protective tarriffs on Europe's guns. "Ordinarily, there's a strong case for free trade; consumers get the best goods at the best price. But we're talking about a product that can kill people — so I'm not sure the usual considerations apply."

DeWayne Wickham in USA Today on Michele Bachmann Wickham rounds up the latest newsworthy bits from Rep. Michele Bachmann, including her assertion that Obama has anti-American views, and her suspicion that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. "That her claims against the two Democrats have gotten virtually no traction among her Republican colleagues shows just how close Bachmann is to tumbling into the political abyss that swallowed up Joseph McCarthy," he writes. "Ironically, for someone who likes to question the allegiance of others, Bachmann had to confront her own wavering nationalism." Just after her presidential run, she faced a scandal over her dual citizenship with Switzerland. She quickly renounced it. "In other words, Bachmann didn't want her followers to see in her what she so often claims to have discovered in others: a lack of commitment to the country of their birth."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.