The Boys Are Not All Right

The Boys Are Not All Right August 5, 2019
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[Note: In the course of this piece I use the names of several mass killers. I realize this is controversial, but for me, as a matter of good writing it was difficult to avoid. Thanks for understanding and for reading.]

It is ghastly, yet true: Mass shootings are becoming so common that it now feels like a surprise if we can make it through three months without one. Now, Americans are reeling from not one, but three within the week.

July 28, Gilroy, CA: Three killed and more injured at the Gilroy Garlic Festival before the perpetrator turned the gun on himself.

Last Saturday morning, El Paso, TX: Twenty killed and over two dozen injured outside a Walmart. Age of youngest victim: 4 months old.

Sunday morning, in Dayton, OH: Nine killed and at least twenty-seven injured. Among the victims, the shooter’s own sister.

The brutal succession of shootings is prompting renewed reflection on the past spring’s killings in Christchurch and the Poway synagogue, as white nationalist terrorism is the through-line from those killings to El Paso in particular. Posts were found by the perpetrator on 8chan celebrating the Christchurch killer, echoing Poway copycat John Earnest. In his own manifesto, he explicitly draws a line between the Muslim “invasion” of New Zealand and the Hispanic “invasion” of his home state. He drove nine hours to El Paso from his family home in Allen, TX, to “kill as many Hispanics as possible.”

Racially charged language was also found on the Gilroy Fest killer’s social media, including a recommendation of a book commonly circulated among white supremacists. However, less information is available about the Gilroy than about the El Paso killer, and the FBI is suggesting caution before assigning explicit racial motives.

The case of the Dayton killer, Connor Betts, was the most puzzling at first. His profile seemed shockingly normal. He had no 4chan/8chan footprint. His police record was blemish-free save for a handful of speeding violations. He advertised himself on LinkedIn as a quick learner and a willing worker. He was good with his hands and had worked several service jobs. A close friend of his murdered sister says she never sensed bad blood between them. She recalls the sister’s personality with a poignant mix of past and present tense: “She’s very sweet, had her own opinions and was loud and kind in a way that her brother was quiet and stayed more to himself.”

I was struck by deja vu at that last line, as I thought back to this profile of the “quiet, piano-playing Presbyterian mass shooter” who killed four people at the Poway synagogue. Quiet, kept to himself, made good grades, all while he was being indoctrinated in alt-right fever swamps. His family and friends and church were blindsided. Compare too with this description of Patrick Crusius, the El Paso shooter: “He wouldn’t talk to people. No one really knew him.”

But more details were to come on Betts. An unofficial report says at one point he was expelled for making plans to shoot up his high school, including a hit list with graphic details of what he’d like to do with the bodies. A fellow alum says when she heard the news, her mind went back to the list: “I thought it might be him.” A further report mined his Twitter profile, turning up a strange array of facts: He was a leftist, a Satanist metalhead, a Trump-hater who called the ICE bomber “a martyr.” Most bizarrely, a few tweets even condemn gun violence. Taken as a whole, his feed is volatile, disturbed and disturbing.

A white nationalist Trump lover and a leftist Trump-hater—poles apart politically, yet within 15 hours of each other, they grabbed the highest-powered rifle they could find and left home with the same goal. How do we piece together the puzzle of this weekend, this season, this year?

Twitter and the media, as is their wont, have offered no shortage of Grand Unifying Theories. And in their defense, at least some partially unifying theories do present themselves. It should be abundantly clear that trite soundbytes about “a few alt-right trolls in their parents’ basement on a message board” need to be retired yesterday. The wolf is at the synagogue door. The danger is clear and present.

I also see calls from the right for “a conversation about mental health.” Also well and good, though perhaps a bit inadequate.

And of course, there’s the monotonous drone of the gun control lobby, whom we have with us always. (By contrast, for people who would rather think through the matter helpfully than spew talking points, I point readers to the targeted, measured and substantive proposals of David French.) Apparently it’s also too much to ask that just this once, perhaps, we could not make something all about Trump.

And the takes keep coming. “If only…” “How many more before…” “This just proves… ”

Of course, I’ve got my own questions, my own things that make me go “Huh.” Like how Patrick Crusius became radicalized in a few years right under the nose of his grandparents, with whom he shared a house after moving out in high school. By all accounts they’re a sweet older couple. So sweet, they apparently let him use the computer eight hours a day without asking any questions. I think about how John Earnest’s family never even worried what their son might be reading online, for so many years that they no longer knew him. I think about how Connor Betts learned to love the dark and terrify women and glory in violence with nobody to whip his hide the moment his wolf fangs came out.

I nod knowingly when I read that Crusius’s parents were divorced and that he was always by himself—a lonely, isolated, “weird” kid, probably on the spectrum. In the same way, I nod when I read that Stoneman-Douglas school shooter Nicky Cruz and his brother had to go home-hopping after their mother died. I can wrap my mind around fatherlessness, neglect, isolation.

But then I think about John Earnest, Sr., a present father and a man of God, left devastated and uncomprehending. I think about the father of the Toronto van killer, Alex Minassian, who did everything he could with his wife to help their Asperger’s son, to encourage him, to launch him. I am haunted by this father’s simple, anguished reply when asked for a comment to the victims’ families: “I am sorry.”

The boys are not all right. We know this. We will keep trying to throw out ideas to “fix” this, some of them perhaps more helpful than others. The gun control lobby will keep droning and blaming Trump. Some of us will discuss strategies for regulating or stifling hotbeds of radicalization. Others will keep talking about the botched generational hand-off and about the dangers of unfettered Internet access.

All of it will be inadequate until we lift our eyes above this present carnage to see that hand of darkness outstretched over all, that power unbound by flesh with whom we contend. No words will suffice but “good” and “evil.” No language will suffice but the language of war.

Sooner or later we must come face to face with the truth, the terrifying truth: that sin crouches at every bitter young Cain’s door, waiting to enter if willingly invited. After all our blame has been parceled out, all our sage advice delivered, this remains. This choice. This lifting of the latch.

I have said that the boys, specifically, are not all right. But somewhere there is a Twitter account I will not link to, whose handle I will not name, whose management belongs not to a college-age male but to a 14-year-old girl. A recent tweet links a poll for her 133k fans to vote on a title for a T-shirt she has designed. On the front, a shot of her smiling, her teeth needing braces. On the back, a list of names:

Charles Manson

EAR/ONS

Carl Panzram

Alex Minassian

Dsokhar Tsarnaev

Nasim Aghdam

Elliot Rodger

Gavrilo Princip

James Holmes

Ted Kaczynski

Otoya Yamaguchi

Soph


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • An incredibly insightful and thoughtful piece.

  • Annemarie

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  • @EstherOReilly

    Thanks for reading!

  • @EstherOReilly

    Thank you!

  • Paul

    What a vapid read.

  • Dave Again

    Three words of advice from an Australian. Sensible gun laws.

  • corky

    So why don;t you submit an article?

  • AntithiChrist

    Heaven forbid anyone should bring up the bullhorn equipped racist, white supremacist occupying the White House.

    Forfend hearing the never-ending “drone” of calls for sensible federal gun-control legislation.

    Let’s all just try to figure out what could possibly be happening in the sensitive minds of these young, white, overly emotional random a$$holes, with an axe to grind and an easily obtainable assault rifle to grind away with.

    You voted for Trump. That much is obvious, and like a good Christian, you’re still willing to carry the toxic water for the anti-American Republicans.

    To distill this all down into a language you might understand, Jesus is watching you, and he is not impressed.

  • Christine

    The “never ending drone” for gun control legislation??? How about the mentally ill, fatherless children who play violent video games in other countries? They aren’t going on mass shooting sprees. How dare us look at Trump. The President, who laughs and makes a joke when someone yells at one of his rallies that immigrants should be shot, who stands at his podium and smiles for 14 seconds while a crowd chants “send her back” about American citizens. The El Paso shooter’s manifesto contained phrases that were things that Trump said about immigrants. The shooter drove hours to shoot up as many brown people as he could. No, the President did not pull the trigger. But, his words matter. Unfortunately, the wrong people are taking his hateful rhetoric to heart. I was looking forward to reading a thoughtful article about changes that we can make. Instead, things that I think would make a difference were dismissed as foolish. I will listen to your ideas. Why is it okay to dismiss ideas different from yours out of hand?

  • themo15

    Hannah Arendt, in her 1951 classic The Origins Of Totalitarianism, writes that these ideologies appeal to people — especially men — who have been radically isolated, and who have lost a sense of being anchored in a solid social order that gives meaning and purpose to their lives.

    The above perfectly sums up what’s going on right now. I’ve stated this previously but those institutions who’s obligation to point this nihilism out and come up with solutions are not only not doing so but in fact making the matter much worse. The media, education, society and government are all pointing us in the wrong direction when coming up with answers other than “white nationalism” or “guns” are to blame.

    In my opinion we are living in a meaning/purpose crisis coupled with the denigration of manhood in a hyper materialistic culture. Is it any surprise that this is going on? No, and it will continue unless we get to the heart of the matter which no one seems to care about. All want to make political points and not address the hard questions that need to be asked and addressed. Till then we are spinning our wheels. A vacuum was created are we surprised now at how it was filled?

  • @EstherOReilly

    I’ve voted Constitution Party in every general presidential election since I was registered to vote, but go on.

  • @EstherOReilly

    Wow, that’s a very timely quote from Arendt.

  • AntithiChrist

    Even more of a right wing whack job than originally surmised. My apologies.

  • @EstherOReilly

    Thanks. Also thanks for apparently missing the actual point of my post. You get a cookie.

  • fractal

    Notice that the media never talks about what kinds of medications these young men are taking—and ya just KNOW most of them are on something pharmaceutical; their school system would have pushed for it…

    I know how profoundly the wrong one can affect your state of mind.
    Tried Zoloft briefly when it first came out, and it took me in the absolute wrong direction.

    My heart pounded, I was grinding my teeth, had bloody, violent technicolor nightmares when I could finally sleep, and I very badly wanted to take a baseball bat to my neighbor who continuously played Mariachi music.
    I was unreasonably paranoid and angry, and kept feeling like I needed to DO SOMETHING.

    If I had been a teenager at the time, who knows what I would have done, had my parents insisted I keep taking that med.

  • Tom Christian

    Though “sin crouches at every bitter young Cain’s door” not every young man acts as the Cain he possibly could be. Mass shootings as we have in the US on a weekly basis do not happen in other countries where access to firearms, especially of the military style variety, is limited or non-existent. You are too swift to denigrate common sense gun control measures and overly inclined to spiritualize the problem. The problem is complex. I’m sure that no one answer will address the extent of the complexity. However, gun murder and the number and availability of guns are positively correlated.

  • Tom Christian

    Your reactions were extremely idiosyncratic.

  • Tom Krayg

    So saddening is the reality of life without understanding the “how” has its roots in the “why”. The author makes the point clearly in the Genesis quote “sin crouches at the door”…but not only at every bitter young heart but all of our hearts. A contributor suggests the author “over spiritualizes” the problem and goes on to suggest there is a correlation between the availability of guns and murder. I disagree with that thesis of correlation from the historical example of when during periods of our nation’s history just about every family had a gun or two for personal defense or hunting and they hung over the fireplace or leaned in the corner loaded with the kids present. It doesn’t take over spiritualizing to clearly see our era and those associated with the murder of the innocents do not , respect others lives, value life and honor the sanctity and dignity of humanity. Call it pure evil or whatever you want. We can’t legislate or regulate the fallen nature of wicked people. Even the ancient world recognized …as we all with common sense know…”Laws are not made for good men but for those who do wrong” Hence when we wonder “how could they do such things?” …we know the “why” is their pure disregard for moral and civil law.

  • Super weird how ‘sin crouches at the door’ of people in other countries too, but the only industrialized country suffering these mass shootings is the one that ignores the ‘droning’ of the gun control lobby.

    Man. I just can’t figure it out.

  • Statistics Palin

    You’re a Christian nationalist. He or she has a point.

  • AntithiChrist

    Since I outlined what I took to be the main points in my original comment, you have had ample opportunity to correct the record since then. If the “actual point” of your post isn’t that you’re a “Constitutional Party” member, then you’re squandering an opportunity to enlighten.

    Please take a moment to point out where this post’s main objective isn’t an exercise in in vapid deflection from the reality of an alleged president inciting hatred and violence across a nation.

  • Matt Abel

    I think you’re saying the Constitutional Party candidate (or past candidates?) are right wing whack jobs. Or, are you saying the party platform is a whack job? Which is it, and why?

  • Matt Abel

    Antithi, you might might be interested to note that at least one website that engages in the opposite of “vapid deflection from the reality of an alleged president inciting hatred and violence across a nation” has linked to this post. You’ve already made the mistake of assuming the political affliction of the author; it’s entirely possible you missed the point of the piece and that deflection is not the goal.

    You’re right about Jesus watching us; He’s not impressed me, either – or you.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Since these wastes-of-oxygen like to proclaim their intentions on Social Media, perhaps a set of filters could be employed to find them and report them to the local police. According to Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Crying ‘Fire” in a crowded theater is not protected by the First Amendment.” Boasting of ones intent to commit mass murder does, I think, fall under the same proscription.

  • AntithiChrist

    My mistake regarding the author was one of scale, that is, not realizing just how right wing she is on the political spectrum. My guesses simply didn’t go far enough.

    Once again, what is the author’s point, if not to minimize the impact of this most malignant (alleged) president we’ve ever seen, or the impact of easy civilian access to war weaponry, etc?

    Would the Christian nationalist who wrote this post have been so quick to question anyone’s mental state if the murderers had been non-white, “other”-looking people? Not on your life.

  • fractal

    Actually, my reaction to the medications is well documented as side-effects, and are one reason people are sometimes put on a psych ward while they get their meds figured out.
    It is especially important for young people, as they don’t have the personal insight to understand that their mood change is medication induced, or don’t have the assertiveness to challenge parents, schools and doctors and demand to be taken off that medication.

    When Columbine shooting occurred there was much discussion about the meds the kids were taking, and how they can cause severe reactions in the wrong direction.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4879944/

    Then, a year or so later, the media stopped reporting on this issue altogether.
    I don’t think that was a coincidence; I think big Pharma pressured the news to stop talking about it.

  • Tom Christian

    A contributor suggests the author “over spiritualizes”
    the problem and goes on to suggest there is a correlation between the
    availability of guns and murder. I disagree with that thesis of correlation
    from the historical example of when during periods of our nation’s history just
    about every family had a gun or two for personal defense or
    hunting…

    To be accurate I’m a “commenter” rather than “contributor”. Be that as it may…

    As I stated in my comment;

    “The problem is complex. I’m sure that no one answer will address the extent of the complexity. However, gun murder and the number and availability of guns are positively correlated.”

    The numbers back that up. The US is the only developed nation that has mass homicides to the extent we regularly experience. And, we have more guns per 100 civilians than any other country. For
    example, the US rate of gun possession by civilians is estimated to be 120.5 (our population in 2017 was 326,474,000, you can do the math to determine the number of guns in circulation) , whereas the next largest ownership is the Falklands at 62.1/100. Yemen is #3 at 52.8/100. Granted that Yemen is a war
    zone, but if mass homicides are compared with the number of guns owned the US wins the prize by far.

    As far as I know none of the mass shooters of the past 20 some years used muskets, breach loaders or even lever or bolt action hunting rifles. I’m old enough to remember that a military type weapon up to the mid-60’s was usually of WWI or II vintage, perhaps an M1 carbine or an MI Garand, or even an ’03-A3 – certainly not the weapons of today with extremely high fire rates and large capacity magazines.

    The only countries to beat the US in total gun deaths per 100,000 population (12.21/100,000) are Panama (15.1) and Venezuela (49.2). Our closest neighbor to the north had 2.05 gun deaths per 100,000 in 2011 and I’m quite sure that Canada is even more secularized than the US and especially more so than where I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

    All peoples and nations have “sin crouch(ing) at (their) door”, yet it is only the US that has off-the-charts mass shootings—and that in a country that has the highest rates of church attendance in comparison to Europe and most other developed nations. Go figure. And go spiritualize it if you like.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimated_number_of_civilian_guns_per_capita_by_country

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

  • Claire

    Because Esther is complicit. She likes the language Trump uses to dehumanize her enemies, just like the El Paso killer did.

  • Claire

    denigration of manhood? Maybe if you guys would stop murdering and abusing people, we wouldn’t have to do that.

  • Claire

    What precisely is insightful about it? She basically said we should expect mass murder because “sin”, yet no other country has this problem.

    She’s the problem, and people like her.

  • Jesse H

    Wow are you missing the point. We have shooters on both sides of the political spectrum. The point is not about gun control–it is about the evil of the human heart.

  • Claire

    We don’t though. The political spectrum is a horseshoe, not a straight line, with both extremes exhibiting high scores on the Right Wing Authoritarianism scale.

    Are human hearts in Japan or Great Britain less evil? Because this doesn’t happen in any comparable way in any other country in the developed world.

  • themo15

    Ok. However you are going to have to accept that these mass shootings will continue based on your assertions. Please don’t play the game of “us” versus “them”.

  • Jesse H

    Evil is everywhere. In Britain they have fewer guns but they have many more knifings, people have entered schools with knives. The same has happened in Japan. But Japan is a good example of a more homogenous culture. People are less likely to feel ostracized by a culture different from them. The beauty of America is our conglomeration of many cultures, but it can also spark backlash.

  • Jesse H

    It seems that the beauty of American culture is that we have many races and cultures coming together. But this also sparks retaliation. I’m sure you’re not trying to correlate church attendance with mass shootings as if there is causation.

  • Claire

    They WILL continue until we take away your means of killing us, and until we stop making excuses and glorifying for you doing it. Other countries have already figured this out.

  • Claire

    Britain doesn’t have more mass murder than we do. Neither does any other country in the developed world. It’s a lot harder to mass murder people with a knife than with an assault rifle. Sure you understand that, right? People only feel ostracized in a diverse culture because right wing politicians weaponize race to make you feel that way. Doesn’t your religion teach you to see people of other races as your brothers and sisters? And still, you can’t. What a waste.

  • themo15

    Last comment. The “why” is much more important than the “how”. I don’t think either you understand this or care to. We can have a conversation about gun control but we must have some dialogue as to why this is happening. I’ve already explained, in my opinion, why it’s happening but you don’t care. Obviously!

  • @EstherOReilly

    Thanks Matt–what linkback are you referring to?

  • Jesse H

    Britain has its problems, we have ours. I’m all for stricter gun laws, and I agree that cultures need to learn to be tolerant. I don’t think right wing politicians are trying to weaponize race, but I do think that not all cultures agree with individual universal rights.

  • Tom Christian

    No. What I’m saying is that in this ostensibly christianized country it is an inadequate answer to say that the problem boils down to “sin crouches at every bitter young Cain’s door, waiting to enter if willingly invited”. The problems are complex and systematic.

    However, I could make the argument that too many American Christians believe in redemptive violence–aka Penal Substitutionary Atonement–which envisions a Janus faced god who requires violence in order to forgive. This idea is part and parcel of the problem of violence in the US.

  • Tom Krayg

    Fair enough and well documented “comments”. However, It is not realistic to use the musket argument anymore than you may feel my historical context argument is valid. What is real is that the wolves will always have the weapons of evil and there of those of us who are responsible should be allowed to defend themselves with equally effective tools of defense. Remember what happened in Ferguson MO when the mobs approached the area where shop keepers thwarted further carnage just by their mere presence. I want that advantage in my home or with others who feel the threat of the one or the many who do evil. There are not enough law enforcement personnel to check the insanity that would follow if responsible gun owners were forced to turn in their equally effective defensive tools. Thank you Tom for the mature dialog.

  • Claire

    Britain’s problems don’t include daily mass murders, ours do. We know that right wing politicians weaponize race, because Lee Atwater told us they did and do. Also, we have eyes and ears, so we would know that they do even without them admitting it.

    And it’s true that not all cultures agree with individual universal rights. The right wing in the US does not believe in those for anyone but Christian white men, for example. So if your party doesn’t believe in it, why are you so worried about immigrants who might not? Are you worried that they might withhold them from Christian white men, like the RW tries to do to everyone else? Or are you worried they might demand the same rights as you enjoy?

  • Was she supposed to offer you a resolution to all evil?
    Change starts with you, with me. And from there, it expands from the inner circle, outward.
    What was insightful? The depictions of the shooters, as we know it based on what has been released.
    As a mother of two sons that like to game, and are more or less not super social, it provided for me some ideas to confront my boys about isolation and anger before it progresses into something more sinister and contemptible.
    Sure, other countries do not mirror our exact problems, but do you expect all countries with varying cultures to have all of the same problems?
    I don’t.

    A better question would be, what have you offered as a recourse? Where’s your solution?
    If you want to critique someone, provide a better resolution then, otherwise, what have you actually contributed?

  • Claire- Where is your blog and your proposal for what can stop evil?
    Please let us all know when you solve the problems of this country, and then be sure to share a link to your piece.

  • Claire

    She should not chalk up preventable mass violence to “oh well, this is natural, nothing we can do about it.” Which is precisely what she did. Then she dismissed solutions that other countries have implemented, and that have actually worked, as leftist pearl clutching. If other countries have figured out how to solve this, you’re just being willfully stupid to dismiss those solutions.

    And no, I don’t need to change, because I did nothing to contribute to this. I didn’t vote for the racist rapist president, who inspired a bible believing christian to drive 10 hours in order to massacre Mexicans. I didn’t and don’t support anyone or anything that inspires the kind of misogyny that allowed the Dayton shooter to create a “rape list”. You do. Esther does.

    Solutions have been offered for the last several decades. But people like you and Esther swat them away, because you think men need access to an arsenal of mass murder weapons in order to be “real men”. There’s something wrong with your definition of masculinity. Very wrong.

  • Claire

    I already told you what my proposal is, Danielle. It’s the comment that you are replying to here. Do you have short term memory problems?

  • So, Ms. O’Reilly should immediately change her views simply because you offered your own commentary?
    That’s not how the world works.
    You’re clinging to narrative outrage when you should take a more reasonable approach to life- to have order, there is chaos.
    Are you more upset that she has just accepted the things she cannot change than you are?

  • Claire

    That’s the point , though. She and you and your band of right wingers CAN change them, you just don’t want to, because preventing children from dying isn’t a priority to you. Protecting White Supremacist Patriarchy is your priority.

    I don’t know what “narrative outrage” is….is that another bit of RWNJ lingo? And “to have order, there is chaos”? Did you have Chinese for lunch, because you sound like a fortune cookie.

  • The chaos and order dichotomy has existed longer than media outrage. Maybe, check out some philosophy books, or, seek out some of Jordan Peterson’s work if you need something more modernized and palatable.

    And, no, my dear, the only person that can change the mind of the individual is the individual who contains the mind.

    I cannot make you or anyone else change their minds. Is that what the problem is here? Perhaps. You can change your mind and only your mind. It’s an internal change.

    The sad attempt to place me in a box shows your attachment to labels and categories. You are not a label. (I have written about that several times, in case you need another blogger to attack, check out my work).
    You are not what side of the spectrum you identify with. Maybe that’s why you are having a hard time understanding the point of Esther’s message?

    The Serenity Prayer offers the same mantra:
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
    Do you know the difference? Detachment and meditation can bring you closer to that understanding.
    Good luck.

  • It’s like the opposite of Brave New World- our society doesn’t want us numb and in la-la land, but rather wants us psychotic to continue the violence so that elected officials will be able to continue recycling the same old rhetoric that never amounts to any actual and effectual change.

  • Tom Christian

    If a symptom occurs in trials–even with one person–it is documented as a side-effect. I also have no great love of Big Pharma…

  • fractal

    Did you read the link?
    This isn’t just a blip on the screen; we are talking about brain chemicals here, and some have very strong reactions to them.

    I know.
    I used to work on Psych ward, and we had to monitor people who were given new meds.
    Heck, even an overdose of hormones will make people feel crazy; we had one woman who thought she was crazy and so did we—until we found out one of her Norplant tubes had busted in her arm and was flooding her body with hormones.

  • Jesse H

    You have a mistaken notion of what conservatives believe, and even the right wing. Individual liberty and rights is afforded to all races and classes, these are the high values of conservatives and liberals alike. As a conservative I will fight with you against racism in all its forms.

  • fractal

    You just wanna whine about poor, poor men who can’t go around kicking ole’ Shep anymore…

  • Tom Christian

    I’m not advocating for “confiscation”, rather for sensible gun laws (civilians don’t need military grade assault weapons and high capacity magazines) and enforcement of existing laws on the books. I also think David French’s article that Esther linked contains good and sensible prescriptions.

    I do think there is a vast difference between weapons that can be fired once every 45-60 seconds vs. simi-automatics that can meet or exceed a round per second.

  • Jesse H

    Problems are complex, that’s true. The complexity involves a more diversely immigrant culture than the history of the world has ever seen. Some 80 million new immigrants. It’s the diversity of assimilation vs. nationalism. It’s also a downswing in church attendance, fatherhood and free speech, and an upswing in violent rhetoric on both sides. And also yes, there are guns. But American history has always had many guns, but mass shootings are a new phenomenon. You might be interested in this: https://pjmedia.com/trending/no-the-united-states-doesnt-lead-the-world-in-mass-shootings/

  • Claire

    No, I am not mistaken at all. And no, you and other conservatives won’t fight against racism in all forms. You elected a man who is a white supremacist, for crying out loud. He has inspired numerous acts of white supremacist terrorism in just 3 years. And I notice you didn’t mention an intention to fight against sexism. Was that intentional? Why aren’t women included in individual liberty and rights? Are we subhuman?

  • Tom Christian

    Actually, after reading more of the comments, perhaps I am compelled to correlate the national rate of church attendance with mass murder rates. The US has the highest of BOTH.

    (I do have enough wherewithall to know that correlation does not necessarily equal causation…stating the obvious to head off unnecessary fulminations.)

  • We can’t understand these people through reason. They’re not rational. Only the Bible can explain them. They’re evil. Nothing the state can do will get rid of evil.

  • Claire

    That is the definition of insanity, Roger.

  • Jesse H

    Herein lies the problem. You can’t seem to get over the idea that conservatives are racist. But do you really think this matches reality? 50% of the population who voted for Trump including whites, blacks, women (65%), asians, hispanics (35%) are all racist? That sincerely defies reality.

    I have little hope that you will change your opinion on this because it appears that you’ve bought into a false proposition. But I can honestly tell you that if 50% of this country were racist, we’d see a lot worse things than you think we see.

  • Jesse H

    The US doesn’t have the highest mass murder rates, and the correlation is in the downswing of church attendance. Who are the typical shooters? They aren’t Christians from stable families. They are politically and socially and religiously ostracized and radical individuals usually without stable families and with many worrying markers of mental illness.

  • Claire

    Given that the conservative church is not really a spiritual tradition, but one dedicated to upholding white male supremacy, similar to ISIS, I think you are on to something here.

  • AntithiChrist

    Yeah, Matt, where is that link back which would completely exonerate the author of talking out of her a$$ with the omg couldn’t possibly be a gun issue?

  • AntithiChrist

    Methinks Matt may have been lying. Shocked. Shocked I say.

  • Claire

    The Constitution Party is for anti-feminists who wish they didn’t have the right to vote at all.

  • fractal

    Imagine what would happen if Black Leftists were stockpiling assault rifles and ammo, and building survivalist bunkers…

  • fractal

    “Only the bible can explain them”

    I don’t think so…
    Social psychologists are doing a pretty good job of understanding mass murderers, and the research continues.
    Now,
    If Trump hadn’t moved most of the U.S. intelligence monies hallmarked for domestic terrorism into other areas, we would have a much better understanding now.

    I think “EVIL” is just a boogeyman label to demonize those you don’t want to call part of your group—then you can treat them like a wild animal, instead of a person.

  • fractal

    Mostly right wingers in America.
    Own your ilk.

  • Jesse H

    Conservatives denounce racism as much as leftists. Do leftists denounce the socialists and communists and anarchists on their side? We all should unite to fight against the fringes.

  • No psychology can’t understand average people let alone killers.

  • fractal

    You are the fringe.

  • fractal

    Criticism too vague to be helpful.

  • Jesse H

    My dog is black, so is my cat for that matter.

    Oh wait, we aren’t just saying things that have no relevance to this discussion? My bad.

  • Haven’t you also demonstrated that you don’t care about anyone else’s opinions? I mean, at least we are all consistently defending our own positions to the point that we are drowning out all potential to hear anyone else’s positions, right?
    You really have not offered proposals. You have told us who the scapegoat is, from your view. How helpful is that to ending evil?

  • Tom Christian

    Sounds like the Black Panthers of the 60’s-70’s…

  • Pennybird

    Can the Bible explain their Republican enablers?
    Does evil not exist in Australia? They managed to effectively get rid of mass shootings there, and I’m willing to bet they have their fair share of angry white men.

  • Pennybird

    Imagine if you had a semi automatic weapon in reach.

  • Pennybird

    Other countries are allowed to make decisions without regard to corporate profits.

  • fractal

    The Black Panthers were also a radical force for good; they set up all kinds of social service help in depressed inner-city areas.

    There are some objective, unbiased books and documentaries out on them.
    I suggest you look it up, and get the full picture.

  • fractal

    Stubbornness is not an antidote to stupidity.

  • fractal

    Exactly!

  • AntithiChrist

    God, is this tripe still up front?

    C’mom Patheos.

  • Tom Christian

    I’m well aware and informed about the roots of the BP’s and the groups services in inner-cities areas, beginning in Oakland.

    Apparently, California was an “open carry” state–until the BP’s began open carrying in response to police violence against blacks. Speaks to your comment. My response wasn’t intended to be negative.

  • Oklahoma hasn’t had mass shootings and we have open carry. Why not OK instead of Australia as the model? And we have one of the highest rates gun ownership.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Hm. If someone is expelled from High School for making terrorist threats, might it not be a good idea to restrict them from buying firearms? Granted, High School BOYS tend to mouth off online a lot, but there is a decided difference between pretending to masculinity and embracing extremism, and White Supremacy is decidedly at the extreme end of things. Perhaps the blacklisted teen could be allowed to reclaim their Second Amendment rights at twenty-one upon the presentation of evidence that they have taken (and passed) an approved “Anger Management” course in the meantime. And yes, raise the age of firearm acquisition to twenty-one; the military has great firearms safety courses so if an eighteen-year-old wants a gun, that’s the way to get one for free. Of course, being dropped by the military as “Section Eight (Mentally and morally unfit for service) is an automatic “no guns for you” strike that lasts a lifetime. Seriously, if we use the existing laws regarding firearm ownership the way they’re intended to be used, we won’t need any new ones (even if doing that could mane certain politicians cry).
    Yeah, I’m a “Lets try what we have first” sort of Conservative, since making new laws just complicates things (although I tend to vote Liberal since I can’t stand modern “Conservatives” in any way shape or form. I have an AK-47 that is totally legal: it was made as a pump rifle, not a semi-auto. It works just as reliably as the Assault weapon version, but not being semi-automatic, it is not an assault weapon. Why can’t other makers do the same thing? Yeah, the look is there but it can only fire as fast as I can pump the thing (which is a long way from semi-or-full auto).

  • Pennybird

    How are you guys with gun violence in general, lower than other states? My understanding is that restrictive states on the whole have fewer murders and suicides by gun. While the big mass shootings get our national attention, things like a guy wiping out his family seldom makes it beyond local news and they happen with shocking frequency.

    How does open carry work for black residents? Yes, I understand the law applies to all races, but in practice, do citizens and the police respond differently for a black man carrying a gun in public vs. a white man? Recall that Tamir Rice was shot for playing with an airsoft gun in state where he had every right to carry the real thing.

  • OK is one of the most peaceful places in the country. Police don’t treat minorities differently.

  • Pennybird

    It looks like OK has the 13th highest number of firearm deaths, so it might not be as rosy as it seems from your perspective. I hope you’re correct that police treat minorities equally, but it would be instructive to ask some for their experiences too.