Marine reservist Andrew Tahmooressi found out the hard way not to bring his guns to Mexico. The twenty-five year old Afghanistan veteran has been in a Tijuana jail since April 1st on charges of illegally importing guns across the border. He claims to have been carrying three legally-registered firearms in his vehicle when he found himself stuck in the wrong lane and unable to make a U-turn at the border crossing.

The marine was promptly imprisoned under Mexico’s gun laws which are some of the strictest in the world. It is essentially illegal for a civilian to possess a gun outside of his home. According to the website of the US consulate, an American who enters Mexico in possession of a firearm can receive thirty years in prison.

I wouldn’t mention this if it weren’t for liberals’ incessant prattling about other countries’ “sensible gun laws.” They like to compare gun death statistics from the United States to Japan, Australia, or some other country that severely restricts gun ownership and then draw the facile conclusion that the decisive factor is our laws. Let’s just ignore that pesky Second Amendment and there will never be another murderous rampage, or so goes the argument.

Yet Mexico, our southern neighbor, is never their shining example. Peculiar. With such a great case study in the benefits of gun control so close to home, why do they always reach to distant Japan to make their case?

Probably because northern Mexico is a warzone where lawmen are routinely gunned down and people have a strange habit of being separated from their heads. The cartels still pack heat but ordinary Mexicans do not because they want to stay on the right side of the law.

It would be just as easy to select two counterexamples to demonstrate that gun rights result in safer societies. Gun ownership is a right enshrined in law in Switzerland and a responsibility in Israel. Both have well-armed populaces and lower rates of gun deaths than the US or Mexico. See how easy it is to cherrypick an example to illustrate a point?

Of course, cross-cultural comparisons are always perilous. America is not Switzerland. Nor is it Israel, Mexico, or the liberals’ favorites, Japan or Australia. That’s why we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that a mere change in laws will precipitate a change in culture, which is what we really need.

There’s no doubt that there’s something seriously out of whack about a society that produces two or three spree-shootings a year. We’ve had so many now I’m losing track. Who will even remember the DC Navy Yard shooter in a few years? How about the guy who shot up the Sikh temple? These days we only remember the biggees—Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora.

It wasn’t always this way. Something changed and it wasn’t our laws or our “access” to firearms. The second amendment has been the law of the land since 1791. Firearms have been with us since the Renaissance. Automatic and semiautomatic weapons were both invented in the nineteenth century.

At the risk of sounding corny, I must positively assert that the change has been within us. We’re suffering from a profound sickness of the soul. That’s the cause of our troubles, not the inanimate objects that people use to act out their violent fantasies.

Liberals tend to get nervous whenever anyone starts talking about spiritual illness. It all sounds very preachy to them and they worry that someone might use the next spree-shooting as an excuse to censor music lyrics or video games, something I completely oppose.

Yet it should not be overlooked that mass killing sprees seem to be a relatively recent phenomenon that just keeps picking up steam. Charles Whitman shocked America when he ascended to the observation deck at UT-Austin in 1966 and began picking off students with a rifle. These days there’s a new Whitman every couple of months trying to kill enough innocents to merit fifteen minutes of fame, which is getting progressively more difficult because we’re becoming numb to it.

Liberals will call it scapegoating if I cast blame upon the cultural changes that have swept our country since the mid-1960s, but I must. A few of the lessons that we’ve learned since that time are that it’s all about me, if it feels good do it, and screw the man. God was declared dead on the cover of Time magazine and anyone who warned of eternal consequences was a square. Could those attitudes be responsible for the mayhem unleashed upon our nation? I say yes.

My hypothesis won’t sit well with those who have embraced the cultural sea change of the late twentieth century. They will say that they are blameless because their message was peace and love.

Sure, some people said that, and a subset of those actually believed it. But a lot of those old peaceniks tossed Molotov cocktails into the local ROTC detachment. They campaigned for a woman’s “right to choose” death for her unborn child. They romanticized militants and terrorists—the PLO, Weather Underground, and the Black Panthers. They never missed an opportunity to excuse violence by equating it with the war in Vietnam. If the government can dump napalm on villages, who are they to tell us that that we can’t bomb a police station?

It didn’t stop when bellbottoms went out of style either. Like the multiplying brooms of Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the effects of the empty, nihilistic culture just keep propagating with no end in sight. Conservatives keep thwacking away at those multiplying brooms, getting more and more fatigued with each passing year. No one can deny we’re losing ground.

Guns aren’t our problem. It’s the vacuousness that pervades our lives. In generations past our societal immune system would have had some kind of resistance to many of the pathologies that infect us, but no longer. So we pass laws that we think will treat the symptoms and often don’t even do that. We can expect more of the same results in years to come.