After every shooting episode, the response is the same formula: constant media coverage, much of it fact-free, and calls for thoughts, prayers – and still more gun control. It’s time to take a broader perspective than a focus on the dozens of individual tragedies.

Today, Americans are targets. Not just individual Americans, but also the United States of America. They are targeted by deranged individuals, by fanatical ideologues, by drug cartels, by terrorist organizations and by foreign powers, some of whom have intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple independently targeted nuclear warheads aimed at American cities.

Our thoughts need to turn to what is really going on, and our prayers need to include “God save the United States of America.”

We have pervasive surveillance of our financial transactions, our telephone and electronic communications, our medical records and our movements. The government has enormous powers of search and seizure, many unthinkable to drafters of our Fourth Amendment, and these are used against Americans engaged in normal business that threatens no one. We already have lots of gun control laws.

So how were terrorists in San Bernardino able to accumulate bomb-making material, an arsenal of weapons both legal and illegal, and body armor without spurring any action by the authorities?

Terrorists have also engaged in operations that don’t yet have any poster children but that are far more dangerous than shooting up a Christmas party, such as disabling a key electrical substation. This shows the capacity for coordinated, sophisticate operations that could cripple the electricity grid for a long time.

Candidates such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz call for controlling illegal immigration – surely necessary, but insufficient. The San Bernardino terrorists were here legally.

Here are the real issues we need to discuss:

  • Americans are mostly helpless victims.
  • The government that is supposed to protect us, though awesomely powerful, appears to be incompetent, corrupt, or – dare we suggest it? – on the other side.
  • Americans are divided by a culture of grievances.
  • America is dangerously weak.
  • U.S. foreign policy is recklessly provocative.

Some candidates, including Trump and Cruz, support the right of Americans to own effective tools of self-defense. But none is talking about the long-standing official government stance of keeping Americans vulnerable hostages to nuclear weapons. Rudimentary civil defense was dismantled long ago; Americans don’t even know to drop and cover if they see a bright flash. Nuclear terrorism could produce the negligible dose of radiation that alarms the hazmat teams’ monitors. The civil defense instruments appropriate to a war environment were discarded and not replaced.

It was a long time before the FBI was permitted to use the word “terrorism,” though everyone knew it was involved in San Bernardino. We are crippled by political correctness; thank you, Mr. Trump, for saying so. The president won’t even name the enemy. We surely need to vet refugees – but even more so the State Department, the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies for believers in jihad; connections with foreign governments; or bribe-takers from the drug trade, organized crime, crony capitalists, or non-governmental organizations, including radical environmentalists.

Americans are being indoctrinated from grade school in the culture of collective guilt instead of individual responsibility. They are supposed to be either entitled victims or guilt-ridden “oppressors.” Thank you, Dr. Carson, for addressing this racial divisiveness. Endless revenge and “reparations” for the sins of great-great-great-grandfathers means endless war, both here and in the Middle East.

When Trump calls for “making America great again,” it’s an admission that America is no longer great. Our military, our industry, our currency are being destroyed by taxation, regulation, litigation, reckless spending and abandonment of the virtues, morality and faith of our Founders.

And what is our foreign policy, really? Thank you, Dr. Paul, for asking questions about creating grievances. Who is pointing out that the U.S. and Russia are fighting a war in Syria, on opposite sides, and that a Russian warplane was downed by a NATO member, possibly with a U.S.-made weapon? Exactly why does “Assad have to go,” and who are we to decide? Was our government running guns to ISIS from Benghazi, Mrs. Clinton?

It is terrible that Americans can get shot at a Christmas party, but much worse will happen if we don’t confront the problems beginning at the top.

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