The Myths of an Epidemic


The national crisis of gratuitous massacres in our culture and their underlying causes are routinely forfeited for crude over-simplifications that attribute half-baked notions like; democratic anger, Hollywood morality or Jihadi plots as the essential cause. These erratic theories, emblematic of conservative thinking, conveniently ignores the broader parallels associated with right-wing news, radical Christians, white supremacists and far-right militia groups. The reality of course is that it has nothing to do with political ideology, race, religion or ethnicity-it’s gender. With most of the shooters being white males.

What binds these men is a flawed concept of manhood that attracts angry, antisocial men in isolation who valorize violence and engage in violent public acts to ease their own suffering and prove their self-worth to the world. To imply mass shooters are the exclusive domain of democrats, Hollywood or Jihadists obscures the real correlation between the escalating bloodshed in our streets, the glorification of violence in our culture and the rates of gun ownership. In the US, there are 88.8 guns per 100 citizens with wildly divergent numbers depending upon how one defines mass shootings. However, the lowest calculation and therefore best number is 90 mass shootings over the last thirty-years. The next highest rate is Switzerland-with 45 guns per 100 Swiss and 2 mass shootings. The uncomfortable truth is the U.S. has double the number of public mass shootings compared to the next 24 countries-combined.

We need to look no further for the inability to govern ourselves than our unwillingness to regulate firearms as a consumer product. A hundred-years ago the high casualty rate that resulted from automobile deaths ushered in numerous regulations and safety features. The same occurred with the airlines industry, simple household appliances and homeowner power tools. In contrast, a cabal of corporate profiteers stoke the obsessive fears of a paranoid electorate who imagine themselves Lexington patriots in tri-corner hats. However, two-hundred and twenty-six years ago, the authors of the constitution could not have envisioned the level of fear, suspicion and violence that pervades our social norms. No more than they could have imagined ordinary citizens with the ability to procure high capacity, semi-automatic weapons designed to inflict mass public casualties.


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