What is the explanation for school shootings?
We all know the standard explanation because we’ve heard it and read it so many times. “We have to get rid of the guns!” is the constant mantra from the Left and even a few so-called Republican conservatives who aren’t really committed to conservatism or any other philosophy of governance that doesn’t suit their own personal goal of acquiring power.
Blaming the NRA has become a cliche. The NRA is an association of law-abiding and responsible gun owners. Blaming the NRA and its membership for gun violence makes about as much sense as blaming AAA for car crashes.
There are 300 million guns in American and they can’t be got rid of without turning the our country into a police-state hell hole. Australia is a country with far fewer guns per capita, yet Australia’s total ban only eliminated about one-sixth of all firearms in the country, according to most respected analyses I’ve read.
Even were it possible to turn the entire United States into a real life gun-free zone it would not be a good idea. It would not result in utopia, but in a brutal dystopian world where the young and strong prey on the old and weak who no longer possess the ability to defend themselves. Samuel Colt really did make people equal, at least in their ability to protect themselves from criminal and/or animal attack.
When I was growing up in the 1950’s there were plenty of guns around but school shootings were unheard of. Guns can’t explain the present spate of school shootings because there is nothing new about lots of guns in private hands.
Before 1968 a teenage boy who wanted a gun could get one in any number of ways. Most households had some sort of firearm in the closet. In my own house there was a shotgun, a 30-30 rifle, a trap door 45-70, and .22 pistol. From the age of eleven I was the proud owner of a bolt-action single shot .22 rifle. It was pounded into my head from several sources that guns are dangerous (as if I didn’t intuitively know that) and that a lot of people had been shot with unloaded guns. That’s not just a contradiction in terms, it’s a metaphor of an important rule of gun safety that explains why you should never ever point a gun at anyone thinking it’s not loaded. That sort of thinking is the same as not thinking at all. It’s just never done by responsible people and we were responsible people.
So was everyone else I knew.
Besides guns being available in most households, one could simply purchase a rifle through mail order from Sears Roebuck. Guns were plentiful and gun violence was very low. So what happened?
Hear is some but not all of what happened:
- The destruction of the nuclear family.
- The dissolution of morality.
- The rise of radical feminism and the concomitant demonization of the male sex.
- The dismantling of the traditional social order.
- The abandonment of ethics, morality and individual responsibility.
- The war on Judeo-Christianity which was and is an overall scheme to create a populace of dumbed-down compliant people.
- The collapse of public education such that high schools turn out graduates who don’t know much about history, or anything else.
- The mission of public schools turning from education to indoctrination in liberal ideology.
- The war on boys to denude them of their masculine potential.
- The baby-boom generation happened, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was created and the idiotic Port Huron Statement became a manifesto for protest as recreation.
- The “Long March Through the Institutions” by the New Left got underway with its locust-like spread of destruction through every decent institution from the League of Women Voters to the PTA and just about every college campus in America.
- In 1955 Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg published in his Howl and Other Poems, and told Norman Podhoretz, “We’ll get you through your children.” That they sure did.
If you can’t deal with all that just blame the NRA. So easy, and you’ll get a lot of support from other nitwits.
One of the best explanations for mass shootings in America is not very comforting. That’s the way with reality, it won’t always satisfy the craving for a simple answer, but in the long run facing up to reality is the only road to salvation. The only way out of most of life’s misery is to go through it.
The explanation I have in mind comes from an article in the New Yorker on October 19, 2015. Malcolm Gladwell wrote Thresholds of Violence — How School Shootings Catch On.
Gladwell calls upon a a famous essay published in 1978 by the Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter titled Thresholds of Collective Behavior. Granovetter established a model for explaining situations where people do things that are not consistent with their underlying moral compass. He used riots as an example of people engaging in collective acts of destruction they would never do by themselves. People have different thresholds of action. Some may join one other person to act in a certain way, others if two people are doing it, still others only if at least three, and so on.
Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them.
The first school shooting may have given way to the next one. That one might be a copy cat. By the time there were several school shootings they were no longer copy-cat shootings. They were collective acts joined in by individuals who otherwise might never have done such a thing.These are individuals who would not have been those first one or two that were clearly copy cats. Today’s school shooters have drunk the Kool Aid. They’ve joined an exclusive club.
Gladwell ends his excellent article with this:
In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts. [bold added]
The way through this, the way out of this, is to change the mindset of young boys before they become susceptible to joining the collective of those willing to contemplate horrific acts. The place to start, in my view, is to begin changing the list of things set forth above that I believe to be the cause of this horror.