A version of this letter by Paul Nathanson appeared in the New York Times

Every article points out that Nikolas Cruz had a very “troubled” background. But most discussions focus on gun control as the ultimate solution. And that would indeed be a good thing. Would it solve the problem of boys who feel so troubled and so abandoned that they resort violence? I don’t think so. Public attention has focused again, with good reason, on public safety. But, as Trump points out–never mind his personal hypocrisy or political opportunism–mental health problems really are among the underlying reasons for boys buying and using guns in the first place. One mother in Florida said yesterday that Cruz (or at least his behavior) is “evil, pure evil.” But if a girl had done the same thing or something else that’s clearly unacceptable, the Times and other feminist publications would immediately call for drives to provide all girls with emotional support, psychological counseling and legal mechanisms that would make them immune to prosecution. The outcry would be against “patriarchal” conditions that “force” girls into antisocial behavior. When girls or women do antisocial things (and they do, albeit things that society seldom acknowledges), it’s because of culturally established misogyny; when boys or men do so, it’s simply because they’re boys or men. This double standard should be (but is not) clear to everyone:.

My main point here is that, gun control notwithstanding, Americans could begin immediately to consider what’s happening to its boys and young men–including the majority, those who do not end up resorting to violence. Time is up for those who believe that these boys feel “entitled to privilege” and therefore that they need to feel collective guilt instead, that they deserve collective denunciation, not concern for their own sake (let alone that of society). Apart from anything else, I suggest, society should acknowledge that there are very few sources (perhaps no source at all) of a healthy collective identity for boys or men and the rage that this inevitably causes.