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What is Happening to U. S.?

June 11, 2014

I don’t mean to belittle the tragedy of frequent mass shootings or their victims, like the latest in Oregon, but I want it said—simply—no amount of gun control is going to stop this type of thing unless we also sign on for the next Reich. For centuries children have attended school with high firearm ownership and there have been only a handful of shootings or other violent crimes in that entire time. Outlawing one type of weapon only invites others, anyway. The disturbing increase of these heinous acts only begins in the last 30 years. That indicates a shift in something other than the number of rifles, pistols, and shotguns alone. Something else is going wrong.

For contrast, should you think firearm ownership itself is a cause of such things—ignoring, for the moment, the founders of the American federal government felt it was absolutely essential for a free people when governments had less chilling powers at their disposal—Switzerland has the highest concentration of firearm ownership and one of the lowest firearm crime rates in the world, per capita, and it has a mandatory term of service in the military besides; the United Kingdom has effectively outlawed firearms (even hunting weapons are stored by the municipal government, I hear), and it still has comparable rates of firearm crime to the U. S., per capita. Don’t even start the argument of “per capita” not being a valid qualifier, either. In human dynamics, context is always essential and statistics per capita are as crucial as the numbers themselves.

Clearly outlawing ownership of firearms is not the answer–it only makes victims less defensible and the criminals ignore the law. Alternatively, going extreme with numbers of firearm owners is not the answer either. It works in Switzerland but it has no likelihood of being a good idea in the U. S. So how can we, as a society, take the responsibility to prevent more tragic crimes like shootings in schools, colleges, and other violent incidents?

I don’t know. But I would advise the first step we should take is look at the regimen of discipline the American child had when we still had as many guns and not these shootings every so many months. If there was a mechanism in place to prevent the access of firearm ownership from becoming the inevitability of more tragic crimes, there are two distinct possibilities.

1. This mechanism is eroding or gone. The action or pattern preventing more people from lashing out this way has been lost, and the only result is going to be more of these senseless attacks on innocent people until drastic (probably unconstitutional) action is taken. It is not going to stop the problem, either, it only promises to make it easier for thugs to seize control—be they criminals in home invasion or federal agents when the executive branch feels like you haven’t been supportive enough of the government lately.

If this is true, we need to find what is missing and put it back. If that means we curtail our dark curiosity in the pathological criminals on television shows slightly, thus denying youth a model for sociopathic behavior, good. If that means the mindless drivel of modern entertainment is made a bit more consequential, so the ramifications of a decision are not limited to the “bad guy” and half an hour time slot, even better. If putting back the inhibitor to mass shootings in the U. S. means are allowed to spank children for misbehaving again, so be it. (God forbid! Think of the trauma no one would ever be able to endure without severe psychological damage!… Even though people have done just fine for centuries with worse discipline than that… without mass, violent crimes at this rate…)

2. The other possibility: the core mechanism preventing most people from doing something stupid and violent like shooting up a school is still in place enough, except the constant coverage on such incidents inspires those seeking a name for themselves. In that case, the media are as much to blame as the shooters. But, if the means preventing more of these attacks in actually still intact enough to help, some percentage of these incidents is a sham. This conclusion would demand some organized group is perpetrating these attacks for some nefarious goal.

Everyone would love for the second premise to be completely off-base (including me). But some shootings are too suspect in their nature to dismiss the possibility they were really done by “lone nuts” like Lee Harvey Oswald was said to be. (Remember how that lie goes? That was the official version, too.) If these shootings and other violent crimes are really all done by young, “lone nuts,” we have even more responsibility to apply a cultural solution, since it seems our culture is the determining factor in the nature of these attacks. Socially, anything less makes us more negligent than we have been already.

Whatever the case, the increase of shootings in the last 20 years must mean either there is something missing that was in place before, preventing these things, or these attacks are not isolated incidents from unrelated entities–but orchestrated assaults on the public at large. Which is worse? Are we prepared to remedy either one?

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