The NRA’s Deadly Legacy: Mass Shootings are “Commonplace” with “Ritualized” ResponsesPosted: July 21, 2012
Can you word associate with Columbine? Virginia Tech? Gabby Giffords? or The Dark Knight Rising? and not attach these things with mass slaughter by crazy people that can’t find psychiatric help but appear to be able to get access to any paramilitary weapon and item their crazy little heart desires?
Isn’t there something seriously wrong with a country that lets this happen?
Mass shootings by disturbed gunmen have become so commonplace over the past generation that the response is now a virtual ritual.
The initial shock of news reports is followed by words of anger and comfort by public leaders — followed by almost nothing of substance.
Now, I’m reading right wing articles about how a brave person with a concealed weapon could’ve stopped this latest rampage. WTF is wrong with these people? Don’t they see the collateral damage that comes from the sho0t-outs that occur between gang members all packing concealed weapons in the inner city? We bury children caught in the crossfire down here all the time. So does Chicago. They want the entire country to look like Tombstone Arizona or some romanticized John Wayne Movie version of it?
But what if someone had a gun? This might become an important question. We know, from recent shooting incidents, that legislation to expand concealed-carry areas is now more frequent than serious restrictive legislation. If someone in the theater were armed, how could he have reacted?
He could have drawn quickly, said Block. “I can draw and get shots off consistently in 1.3, 1.2 seconds,” he said. “But it might take two seconds to fire. Why? I want to get down on my knees. You know the curvature between the two seats? That’s where my muzzle is going to be. I find the V, the gap between the seats, and I move down into the row where I have a clear shot. Now, I could stand up over everyone else, and engage him. If I stand up, I can see him, he can see me. If I’m down low shooting between two seats, I have a tactical advantage. I can crawl between them, pop up, take a shot.”
Yes. The NRA is already gearing up for any one that dares to mention redoing the assault weapons ban passed during the Clinton years. They were even so insensitive as to continue to post gun fetish style tweets the morning after. Grover Norquist and the NRA have the country hamstrung through their influence on Congress.
Politico’s Josh Gernstein knows the routine by now. Our weekend plans will be to watch the news and see prayerful, do-nothing politicians, shell-shocked survivors, and pundits that tut-tut our gun culture. It’s the pantomime mass shoot out ritual. The right wing will say its because we’re all not armed and the left wing will say we can’t get any gun regulations through congress any more. It’s the automatic animatronic autonomic national response to an ongoing crisis: Mass Death by Assault Weapons. It happens every day in an inner city neighborhood but only gets the national news treatment when its high schools or shopping malls in white suburbia. Death by shoot out is as commonplace as it gets in any major US city these days.
The presumption of inaction is so strong that the responses of politicians are now typically judged mostly through the prism of atmospherics and theater: Were our leaders eloquent? Did they unify the nation — fleetingly — in their unavoidable role as mourner-in-chief? Did their public displays of emotion shed new light on their ability to empathize with their fellow Americans?
Some experts see a kind of massacre fatigue setting in, in which the unthinkable becomes so numbingly commonplace that there’s little collective thought of doing more than simply saying, “Sorry.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve developed a ritual for these, because it has happened so often,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “Campaigns are ceasing their activities. Advertising has been pulled. The candidates have indicated that in many cases, it’s not appropriate to engage in some of the more trivial kinds of debates, like those that have characterized the last week.”
So President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney in the coming days will likely stick to sympathetic, prayerful public statements, as they try to keep politics out of a tragic moment while still attempting to project compassion on a national stage.
But when the mourning ends, Obama and Romney and other politicians seem all but certain to move on — without pushing or even proposing any significant changes in policy. For congressional candidates, especially Democrats in tough races, there is little political upside to suggesting any aggressive remedies for preventing another gun massacre because the blowback from the gun lobby would be powerful.
Yup, the response will be to pander to the religious by offering prayers, send out sympathy to the latest batch of victims, and continue to fellate the NRA.
And this celebrated mythology, replayed every day in every cinema, every TV, in books and music is seductive and dangerous to what German professor Ines Geipel called the “Wounded Outsiders.” In her book The Amok Complex, she analyzed five mass shootings in Europe and distilled from the gunmen a common character. They live in pricey towns, come from well-heeled families but are labeled outsiders due to their failure to achieve in the high pressure of class paranoia. In an interview on the German news site DW, she said that after being isolated they retreat into a fictional world. “Most of them have a strong affinity to theater and film,” Geipel said. “It is the desperate search for their own skin, for their own role in life.”
In the British paper the Independent, Dr. Keith Ashcroft wrote how the path from low self-esteem is layered with resentment which becomes paranoia. The retreat from others into a shrinking world of rage and self-pity creates the conditions for more social isolation. A fast and powerful downward spiral begins that pulls the young men into fantasies of revenge. And finally there is some triggering event, loss of a lover or a job or a home that snaps him. “Their paranoia heightens the sense that the whole world is against them, which increases their anger,” he wrote “It is very immature to want a gun in order to have a sense of power and fulfillment. But it is a way of regaining control.”
As long as well let the gun culture define our approach to these individuals, we better buy a lot of stock in funeral homes and get use to the ritual.