Posts Tagged ‘Mass murder’
I admit it, as a young man I was a gun nut. I mean, yeesh, it was easy. Walk into a store, give them money, walk out with guns and ammo. Drive out to the desert and shoot everything in sight, how could I resist? I didn’t, I must have fired thousands of rounds through dozens of guns in my day. Even worse, I was an irresponsible gun nut. There were times and places where I should not have been shooting, and there were times and places where I stored or used guns in a terribly unsafe way. I can recall two accidental discharges where it was only a matter of inches and a terrible tragedy would have resulted. So I was a lucky gun nut, I grew up and became a responsible gun owner before something terrible happened.
I look back now, and yes, it was too easy for me to get guns. And some of the guns I was able to easily get were dangerous or completely beyond any reasonable sporting or self defence need. And the “education” I was required to get in order to buy and use these guns was a joke. There were reasonable and practical laws and regulations that would have made me a much safer gun nut. I wasn’t some lunatic who was determined to get a gun and kill people; and if I had been, yes, laws and regulations wouldn’t have stopped me.
Which highlights the first and possibly the biggest lie the gun lobby uses to derail discussion of gun regulation. The claim that “criminals and lunatics will be able to get guns no matter what the laws.” True. As far as it goes. The problem with this “argument” is twofold. If a law makes it harder for criminals and lunatics to get guns without taking away law abiding citizens rights, that’s a fucking problem? Arguing that criminals will always be able to get guns so gun regulation is useless, is literally saying “we should make it as easy as possible for criminals and lunatics to get gets.” Excuse me, but that’s fucktard insane. As Mr Holmes and many like him have more than amply demonstrated.
Secondly, and more insidious, the “criminals will get guns” argument completely ignores the fact that a tremendous amount of gun violence does not involve criminals or lunatics. More than half the gun deaths in the USA are suicides, over 15,000 deaths a year. And there’s more 20,000 accidental gunshot injuries in the USA every year, including over 500 deaths. Again, if laws and regulations might make some of these suicides and accidents less likely, there’s a problem with that? Wait some are saying, if someone is going to kill themselves, they will find a way, how can gun control prevent those deaths? Listen closely, because this is something that a lot of people don’t want people to know gentle reader. A lot of human behaviour, and that most certainly includes suicides, is impulsive. It’s not planned, it’s not premeditated, it’s just a spur of the moment combination of opportunity and impulse. We know this, both from people who survive suicide attempts, and from the fact that when “suicide magnets” like the Golden Gate Bridge are made suicide proof, local suicide rates go down. And, obviously, a certain percentage of homicides have to be impulsive events as well.
And let’s look at the accidental deaths thing a bit more. A lot of these are children. Again, if we can reduce these deaths without infringing on anyone’s rights, what the hell is the problem? In fact (look it up,) the gun industry has managed to insulate itself from most simple product safety law. It’s, literally, as if the automobile industry was able to prevent mandatory safety glass or seat belts. A great example, the Ruger company for several decades until the seventies manufactured and sold “Old Model” revolvers. These were revolvers built to a nineteenth century design. They were simple, they were elegant, they were beautiful … and if jarred or dropped, they would fire. At least 600 deaths, many children, have resulted from this company’s decision to market an unsafe gun. To this day they have avoided being required to recall them. Americans have a right to buy unsafe guns? Give me a break.
Speaking of infringing on rights, the NRA and it’s supporters ignore the fact that a few years back the Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment means that Americans do indeed have a right to bear arms. They continue to rant (yes, that’s the word) about how liberals and/or Obama are going to somehow confiscate American’s guns. Can’t happen without changing the Constitution, and that’s not about to happen anytime soon. Their hysterical preaching encourages Americans to buy and stockpile guns and ammo. One would think they were just a shill for the gun industry. Actually, that’s exactly what I think. I’d call them a prostitute for the gun industry, but that would be an insult to prostitutes. They do everything they can to glorify guns, and wrap themselves in the flag while they are at it. The NRA was once a fairly responsible organization, I know, I was a member for years.
And while on the topic of glorifying guns, Hollywood has a lot of blood on its hands too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the single person gun massacre is a late 20th century phenomena in the USA. Endless movies glorifying gun violence, and more importantly, glorifying retribution on your enemies by getting mad and shooting a bunch of them is a central theme in Hollywood. A meta-study of 5,000 studies looking at the the link between media and violence found that all but 18 of them found some linkage, and 12 of those 18 were funded by media interests. Sure, normal healthy people aren’t going to run out and shoot people because of violence on TV or in the movies, but not everyone is normal and healthy! Basically it’s a fact that media violence plays some role in inspiring real world violence, monkey see, monkey do.
My point, is that gun violence encompasses a vast array of violence with multiple and complex causes. It’s simplistic and wrong to claim that guns are the problem, though frankly not as simplistic and wrong to claim that guns aren’t part of the problem. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” may sound all righteous and holy, but how the hell does that translate into “We shouldn’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics and criminals?” It doesn’t of course, and there’s all sorts of things that could be done to address the problem without infringing on anyone’s rights. Which will be the topic of a upcoming post.
And yes, I decided to post this blog today because of yesterday’s mass shooting in Wisconsin. The details aren’t all in yet, but we do know that Wisconsin has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. That’s a recent cover of the NRA’s magazine, which used to be called “The American Rifleman” back when it was a reasonably responsible organization. Replace “election” with “organization,” and it describes the contemporary NRA quite nicely.)
Sigh. Some nutbar opened fire in a movie theatre in Colorado and killed a dozen people or so. It’s a terrible thing, If you have thin skin, stop reading now, you’ll just have a stroke. Trust me, a stroke is no fun. In no particular order (I’m sometimes using poetic license when I say that,) my reaction to the Batman shooting.
First off, how people initially react to this sort of event is often a great indication of their prejudices and biases. So far pundits have blamed this shooting on: The Tea Party, OWS, bullying, media violence, teaching evolution, and anti-Christian values. (Mike Huckabee took the cake though.) Pretty much covers all the bases there. The only people who haven’t been blamed yet are Hezbollah and Iran. I’m sure my reaction is biased too. I think violence that results in the death of innocents is wrong. If that belief tarnishes my view of this event, so be it.
Gun control. Many will see this as a way to get gun control back into public debate. Good luck, aint gonna happen. The NRA by promoting gun control hysteria makes oodles of money for the gun industry … and oodles of votes for right wingers. The NRA didn’t skip a beat when the Supreme Court ended a century of debate and ruled that yes indeed, Americans have a constitutional right to be armed. If winning the battle didn’t make the NRA want to compromise and discuss reasonable ways to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics, why would this event? I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think this will lead to any meaningful efforts to regulate gun ownership in the USA.
Media inspired violence. Oh, please. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that media violence inspires violence in some people, the issue is closed to debate. How many readers are upset that children under 12 were at a midnight showing of a movie that is steeped in homicidal violence? The mainstream media is intensely profitable, and for deep rooted psychological reasons people love violence, until that changes this is also off the table. Hell, getting mad at your enemies and killing them all in a wild shooting spree is bread and butter to American moviegoers, how could that not have played an influence in this man’s thinking? Like I said though, I think this debate happening is even less likely than a meaningful debate on gun control.
Random factoid. The first shooting incident like this in the USA was in 1949. There have been dozens since then. Make of this what the gentle reader wants. There was certainly plenty of homicide and murder before then, but individuals going on shooting sprees like this is new. The technology to do so has existed since at least the US Civil War, so it’s more than just weaponry. People have also committed mass murder with swords and knives. Even of children. Best not to think about.
The professionals don’t have a whole lot of insight into this crime. That’s because it is both exceedingly rare, and even then, the perpetrators often don’t survive. And when they do, they aren’t the most cooperative research subjects. Whatever factors are common to them, they share with millions of other people who don’t go on shooting sprees. Maybe someday science will have an answer as to why particular individuals snap, but for now, despite a lot of general understanding, specific causes elude definition.
I tuned in to watch President Obama’s first press conference on the shooting. I was sickened. I had to turn it off. The man is a psychopath. He said with amazing sincerity how terrible this shooting was. The empathy, the caring, the terrible injustice of it all, he was so convincing. This coming from a man who was giving orders within weeks of taking office that he knew would result in the deaths of women and children. I’ve yet to see any sign of caring about those innocent lives lost. He was so warm … it was as cold as ice.
This illustrates the psychopathic dichotomy about America that makes me angry and despairing. We live in a culture steeped in violence and violent imagery. We glamorize violence in our movies and video games. Our language itself is brimming with violence: war on poverty, war on drugs, etc. We glorify retribution, the death penalty, and the idea that our enemies must unconditionally surrender to us. We routinely commit violence abroad, not to mention violence against nature. We arm and train brutal regimes around the world. We are the world’s arsenal of violence, shipping more weapons abroad than any other nation. And yet somehow, in some fashion that yet eludes me … Americans are shocked and wronged when somehow such violence strikes us at home.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” —Matthew 26:52
Lastly, and what compels me to write this, and compels me to write period, is just the senseless loss. People, people who had their whole lives before them, everything they would have experienced and done … gone. Maybe just ordinary people, with loves and lives, maybe future Einsteins and Shakespeares and Ghandis … gone forever. Lost to us. Never to be.
I don’t understand. God rest their souls.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, it’s probably public domain for all practical purposes. It’s Thelma Irene MacDonald. She died at age nine in 1927 in the Bath school bombing, when another madman killed many in his rage against society. The bomber also booby trapped his farm in an eerie similarity to the Batman shooter. Thelma had two sisters that lived until a few years ago, but her life was cut off so long ago that it is ancient history to most people. Just a photograph of a life that could have been. Madness.)