In part one of this article, it was detailed how in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, the Senate (including 14 Republican Senators) passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which is (as expected) rather vague on details and is generally viewed as having the potential to cause more problems than it was designed to solve. Meanwhile, the ruling on the New York State Rifle & Pistol Inc. v. City of New York (Bruen) has been handed down since part one, and while it strikes down a lot of longstanding infringements on the Second Amendment, it is still rife with problems.
These two contentious events come right at a time when Americans are still coping with so many massacres of innocents around the country. Yet most of what has been proposed, whether it affirms or restricts Second Amendment rights, are hackneyed talking points that we have all heard before. Points that have been tried in whole or in part at some point, and have been found wanting in stopping such wanton slayings. Part one of this article, addressed the most common of such proposals and why they have not or will not work as intended. In this part of the article we shall examine why these solutions all fail, because they fail to deal with the some of the issues that are at the heart of this problem of why these killers chose to go on a killing rampage in the first place.
Who is this“We” Being Talked About
The first and most pragmatic of reasons why more laws or regulations will not solve these kind of killings is that they are always aimed at the wrong people. Politicians and activists are always fond of decrying how “we” as a society or as Americans need to do more or be willing to give up this or that in order to stop all the “gun violence.” The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people, is who is this “we” they are talking about?
Aside from the fact that our nation is more ideologically and culturally divided than it has been in a long while, the statement is based on a common but jaded view of the Left of seeing people not as individuals but as a collective. Thus, since guns kill people, guns are bad. Therefore all gun owners, legal or illegal and law-abiding or not, are lumped into a single group of bad people who have bad things. This is of course a ludicrous assumption to make, but that is essentially what is done when politicians and gun control activists seek to restrict the Second Amendment in the wake of a shooting spree.
In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, I read a comment on the social media site MeWe, where a woman asked, “What inconvenience would you suffer to save the life of another human?” and if any of us gun owners would be willing to “buy a gun that can’t be modified?” My reaction to this thread was to point out that she was conflating legal gun owners and criminals.
Secondly, the fact that I obey the law or don’t illegally modify any of my firearms, does not inspire (let alone prevent) criminals from doing so. I realize this is a cliché, but criminals don’t obey the laws, that’s why they’re criminals. This is why talking about a “we” when it comes to gun control will not only have zero effect on getting criminals from killing people, but it is outright slanderous and punitive to those who are being told they must be punished (or “inconvenienced”) for something they did not do.
Time to Deal with the Virtual Elephant in the Room
In a recent interview (which I highly recommend listening to) retired Army psychologist Lt. Col. David Grossman, who literally wrote the book on killing (Killology) as well as Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill and Assassination Generation, talked about some very unpleasant truths about all of the recent mass shooters. According to Grossman, we have have always had firearms in this country, and kids have always had access to them- you could at one time buy a Thompson submachine gun or a military surplus weapon through the mail- but only in the last few decades have we seen a spate of young people going on killing sprees against their peers.
In studying school shooters since the 1999 Columbine high school massacre, Grossman noted certain commonalities among all these shooters,
1. They were all loners from broken homes, who manifested warning signs and anti-social behavior long before they carried out their acts.
2. They all had numerous run ins with the police or social or mental health workers, and all such “interventions” failed to properly identify, let alone treat, any underlying conditions that motivated them to commit their crimes.
3. All of these shootings took place in public schools, as of yet there have not been any shootings at private religious schools.
4. And lastly, and most importantly, all of them were avid players of first person shooter video games such as Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty.
The last point is one that Grossman has studied for two decades now and has testified before state legislators and butted heads with the video game industry over. To this day, it is still a very contentious assertion and one that our society does not want to deal with, and instead dodges it by fabricating a straw-man argument.
For Grossman the point is clear in that “while not everyone who plays these games becomes a killer, it is a fact that everyone of these killers has played these violent video games.” Thus, to be clear, playing violent video games will not turn you into a killer, but for those individuals who are for whatever reasons predisposed to violently act out, these games become what Grossman calls “murder simulators” for them. He has documented time and again how video game developers studied and incorporated the same methods (called “operant conditioning”) the U.S. military uses to train soldiers to overcome their reluctance to shoot another human being, in order to make their games as addictive as possible.
In this way, violent first person shooter games become the ultimate "safe space" where these potential killers can repeatedly and vividly validate and normalize their murderous and vindictive impulses. Through repeated playing, these games teaches the player to “turn killing into a conditioned response” as what’s left of their conscience is dulled into a screen-induced apathy. And yet, this is considered harmless entertainment for our kids. Sooner or later though, this issue will need to be dealt with, because the research on this issue is solid and every time another mass shooting occurs, the data is verified.
At the Root of it all is a Heart of Darkness
At this point one may accept that potential killers are in fact drawn to and become enamored with violent video games, but why? Why are they drawn in the direction of death, destruction, and a hatred of the lives of others, themselves, and even life itself? Why? This is a question that no one seems able or inclined to ask, but which writer Katherine Dee attempted to in a recent Substack article.
According to Dee, while we were all shocked by the Columbine school shooting, it was at least understandable in the context of teens seeking revenge on the students and school they felt bullied or ostracized by. However, when it came to the Sandy Hook massacre it “was supposed to be the tipping point in our national conversation about mass shootings” as she notes that “we could not imagine anyone shooting six-year-olds. It was so monstrous that it seemed beyond the pale of possibility.”
She then goes onto cite the stock answers offered on both sides of the aisle as to what is behind mass shootings such as, “online radicalization, video games, white supremacy, misogyny, loneliness, fatherlessness, lack of sex, lack of intimacy, lack of community.” This is juxtaposed against a “mental health epidemic” with “all those antidepressants and antipsychotics being prescribed to fatherless young men” as well as calling to “arm schoolteachers and hire more on-campus cops.” However, she rightly sees the paucity present in all of those situations, given the fact that there are plenty of Americans (some of whom may even have access to firearms) who have endured all of those issues (or worse) but nonetheless do not feel compelled to go out and kill their fellow humans as a means of dealing with their frustrations.
And thus Dee concludes that America does not have a mass shooting problem, but that behind the “impenetrable darkness beneath all the bloodshed” America has a is “nihilism problem.” We now live in a world where we have “become desensitized to the sound and fury of riots” and thus “nothing has meaning. Meaning is elusive. Nihilism—the rejection of the possibility of meaning—is the water in which we swim and the darkness that has enveloped our way of life.”
From this perspective it can be seen how “the perpetrators of mass shootings...are the ones who cannot see the value of civilization or society or even life itself. They are suffocating under the weight of what they view as the purposelessness of it all.” To relieve themselves of that weight they decide, as Jordan Peterson has pointed out, that it would be better “to be infamous and dead than alive and anonymous.” And if nothing in life really matters, then it makes all the sense in the world to not prolong the inevitable and to relieve themselves and others of the pointlessness and pain of life.
In the End We Have to Address the Motives
Whenever another mass killing happens, we see protest signs and talking heads in the legacy media asking when enough is enough or how many more lives need to be lost before blathering on about needing to “do something” to end “gun violence”. Of course, we know by now that to “do something” means in practice to do nothing. This is not to say that nothing can be done to stop these kind of massacres, but the issue is far more complex than just saying we need more or less guns.
In our age of endarkenment though, we have instead devolved into mass superstition where we cannot reason anymore and instead see people turning in or destroying their AR-15’s after one is use in a horrific crime. One elderly gent did that after the Uvalde shooting, saying (in true nihilistic fashion) that his rifle no longer, "has no actual, meaningful purpose” as though he thought the rifle had some life or spirit of its own that holds a power over his thoughts.
Putting an end to these killing sprees means looking at the killers themselves and figuring out what is making them do what they do rather than giving into the sense of meaninglessness, dislocation or helplessness that is rife in our culture. For so long as our world is one where truth is tribal and going on a shooting spree is to some just one life-choice among many, we will continue to see these kinds of shootings.