The mass shooting body count from last night is four dead and several wounded in Dadeville, Alabama, and 2 dead and four wounded in Louisville, Kentucky. The Alabama shooting was at a private “sweet sixteen” birthday party being held in a dance studio, and the Kentucky shooting was in a public park. Police haven’t released any details about any suspected shooter in either case. And I’m going to hazard a guess that neither of these locations was a “gun-free zone.”
As these shootings were happening, the NRA was in convention in Indianapolis. So far, the biggest news out of the convention is that Mike Pence was booed there. Pence is trying to move right of Trump on guns. His solution to mass shootings in schools is a mandatory death sentence, which kind of ignores the fact that school shooters are nearly always killed on the site of the shooting. At least as often as not the shooters ended the carnage by shooting themselves, which has led to speculation that a spectacular suicide was the point. Younger shooters, who are the ones who tend to target schools, are nearly always suicidal, FBI data says. Exactly how the threat of a death penalty will deter that seems unclear.
In fact, the only school mass shooter I can think of who is still alive is Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018. It’s possible there are others, but that’s the only one that turns up in google search. Remarkably, this seems to be the only mass school shooting Pence mentioned in his NRA speech. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison last year. I seriously doubt executing Cruz is going to deter the next school shooter. Or park shooter, or birthday party shooter, or …
Another of Pence’s suggestions was “rebuilding institutional mental health care in America.” Pence continued, “Families with someone who is struggling, a threat to themselves or a threat to others, have to have a place to send that family member other than the county lockup.” Wouldn’t red flag laws be easier, Mike? Seriously, if someone is reported as “struggling” it’s not okay to confiscate their firearms but it is okay to commit them to a mental hospital?
And there’s a big leap between “struggling” and “psychotic,” or some sort of mental disorder severe enough to require hospitalization. And I haven’t heard that police regularly take “struggling” people to county lockup, either. I think you have to be suspected of committing a crime first.
There’s all kinds of data showing that most mass shooters did not have any diagnosis of mental disorder before the shooting.
We often hear after a mass shooting that mental health is to blame.
However, a Columbia University research study found that of the 1,800 mass murders, only 8% of all mass shooters were diagnosed with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder.
The article goes on to say that about 25 percent of mass shooters had anxiety or depression, but that’s true of the general population. And if we keep roughly a quarter of Americans locked up for being depressed or anxious, that still leaves us with a lot of people who might be mass shooters.
A number of other Republican politicians addressed the convention, either in person or by video, and they all said pretty much the same thing. It’s not a gun problem. It’s a crime problem, or a mental health problem, or even a “spiritual” problem.
Basically, they’re all in denial of reality. Too bad we can’t have them locked up in mental hospitals.
Meanwhile, during the convention a number of Indianapolis business owners have posted signs asking that guns not be carried on the premises.
The GOP’s conversion to gun absolutism is the heart of the problem. But politics doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It often follows from cultural and moral innovations.
For roughly four decades, American conservatism has identified firearms as a marker of a manly rejection of urban cosmopolitanism and gun ownership as a right more important than any other. As DeSantis said in his video, the right to bear arms is “the foundation on which all our other rights rest” and essential to Americans’ “ability to rule themselves.”
“Why do Joe Biden and the liberals want our guns?” asked Gov. Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota, another speaker. “Because it will make it easier for them to violate all our other rights.”
They’re clinging to guns because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They’re falling back on gerrymandering and making it harder to vote because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They are taking power away from urban areas because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They’re banning books because, deep down, they know they’re losing. All their antidemocratic crap in the name of “freedom” is about clinging to power even though they represent a minority of Americans. And they’re dangerous, and getting more so.