In the wake of the recent school shooting, the real issue we should be talking about is not gun control. In fact, that shouldn’t even be on the table.

Two days after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton, Conn., a similar story unfolded in San Antonio, Texas. In this copycat crime, a man took a gun into a restaurant with the intent to kill his ex-girlfriend. Patrons of the restaurant fled to the theatre next door, and after shooting his ex, the man followed and continued shooting. How does this differ from the Sandy Hook story? The answer is simple. An off-duty deputy sheriff put four bullets into the shooter, ending his spree before he could kill anyone else.

Now for the issue we should be talking about. Why have you never heard this story before? Why have the national news media not carried this story? In fact, why is it that for every spree shooting there are several stories just like this one -- usually involving a private citizen who did exactly what the off-duty deputy did -- and they never make the news either?

Here’s another question. Why has nobody in the media reported this simple fact: Since the end of World War II, all but one of the multiple-victim public shootings in the United States involving more than three fatalities has occurred in a gun-free zone.

That alone should put paid to the gun control debate before it ever begins, and we should start asking the question that matters. Where has our society gone wrong, that we have this problem? Why is it that we never had this problem before the last 40 years?

What changed in America?

One thing is absolutely certain -- it isn’t that access to firearms has increased. As late as the 1950s, high schools across the country had shooting ranges where students brought their own firearms from home and practiced shooting on school property. Spree shooting tragedies were unheard of. (Granted there were episodes just like the one in San Antonio, where a shooter was stopped, usually before anyone could be hurt, and almost always before more than one person could be killed.)

You could argue that gun control itself is the problem. After all, any honest, in-depth examination of the issue will conclude that when good people lose their access to guns, evil people will still carry them unopposed and use them to kill people, and that successful spree shootings simply do not occur in environments where the general public carry concealed weapons.

The problem goes deeper than that, though, and the spree shootings are just a symptom of the disease.

I’ve heard this epoch in our country’s history called the Age of Stupidity, and the label fits. The American public has become so self-absorbed, so irresponsible, and so foolish that, as a society, we do not teach our children that harming others is shameful. We have lost the concept that doing good to others is right and noble and doing harm to others is wrong and shameful. Don’t you think that if, as a nation, we treated the perpetrators as the human garbage they are, that wouldn’t make an impression on others who would do the same?

Smearing their faces and names all over the newspapers, making them the center of national debates -- this makes them folk heroes. If the headlines had read, “Human garbage murders Connecticut children” then two days later, “Scum shot dead in San Antonio,” how much more difficult would it be for the next human scum to decide to murder innocent children, knowing how he would be treated after the fact?

Evil should be known as evil. Good should be known as good. The children of America have lost sight of what these two concepts really mean because the adults of America, those who should know right from wrong and good from evil, have not taught them.

Tragedies like the school shooting in Connecticut are no longer an anomaly. They are a fact of life here in America, and we can’t blame that on video games or on guns, or even on the media, though they bear a far larger share of the blame than either video games or guns. The real culprit is the parents of this nation and their peers. Those who should be adults are fools and mental, emotional and intellectual children themselves, who refuse to take responsibility for their own faults and problems.

That is the real reason our children -- those we should be protecting -- must fear for their lives.

Jared Michaud is a freelance writer living in Wyoming.