I’m in Venice this semester as a visiting professor, so I’m not keeping up with U.S. politics like I normally would. But I woke up to another report of a mass killing at a public place, another school.
Yesterday, after class, a student here said he had a question about Texas. He’d visited there last year and was “scandalized” by the public display and worship of guns. Asked why Americans were so obsessed with guns and why there was so much gun violence, and most importantly why they didn’t do anything about it. In Italy, a white anti-immigrant zealot killed 5 people last week and it’s a huge story, because it’s so rare. (To prove “self-defense” in the use of a gun here, you really have to show that your life was in danger and you had to shoot someone . . . not simply assert that you feared your “castle” might be violated, or saw someone with dark skin running from your house, or wear a badge).
I talked to him for at least 20 minutes and had no useful answers.
“The Script” for gun killings immediately went into effect. Politicians and personalities are offering their “thoughts and prayers” as always.
A lot of people are rightly condemning the NRA’s stronghold on this issue, which has been a political reality for generations and hadn’t budged. Screeds about the NRA are approaching “rain is wet” category.
I’m seeing a lot of self-described radicals cue up their lines about The Patriarchy, Privilege, and other such things, again. That most of the victims in these mass killings are white and male and that the shooters don’t issue any political manifestos doesn’t seem to fit into the narrative, but what the hell, when you’re on a roll . . .
I’m also seeing a lot of self-described radicals who cue up their lines about The Patriarchy, Privilege, and other such things, again, angrily dismiss claims of mental illness as a mere “alibi” to apologize for The Patriarchy, Privilege, and other such things. If a mass killing isn’t the time to discuss the American mental health crisis, then I can assume there isn’t one, and we’re spending too many resources and too much time talking about mental health?
Lefties who want to gun up for the Revolution because The Man is well armed . . . look in the mirror, you’re not John Brown, you’re a living satire. The Man has drones and nukes–good luck with your revolution. Those guns you get will far more likely be used against yourself or a family member. Every time a “radical” calls for lefties to go out and buy guns, the suits at Smith & Wesson smile and pop another bottle of champagne, and laugh at you.
There is only one thing in common in every single one of these mass attacks–a Gun.
There is one thing in common probably in all of them but surely in the vast majority–a history of psychological disturbance, red flags all over the place, some type of punishment, jail time, whatever, and a long trail of warnings all over the internet and among friends (and not infrequently some military experience). Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris from Columbine, Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary, Devin Patrick Kelley in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Omar Mateen at the Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, this kid . . . and so it goes–all of them showed clear signs of being a threat to use arms and commit violence.
Two-thirds of gun deaths are Suicides so while these mass attacks are terrifying and far-too-common, they do remain statistically small. Easy access to guns for a depressed person makes it easy to kill oneself.
It’s Occam’s Razor time here: Mental Health needs to become a huge national priority, not only because of gun deaths, but just because . . . Look into the backgrounds of mass killers, and you’re not gonna come away thinking “wow, there were no signals, who could’ve seen that coming . . . .”
Guns . . . oh, hell, what’s the point. If a classroom of slaughtered 2d Graders doesn’t provoke action, what will?
Too bad Barack Obama’s not still president. He was so good at shedding crocodile tears at the obligatory memorials for these victims, while doing nothing.
Guns and mental illness–it’s not that hard.
Have a great day. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.