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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,147

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Three paths to ending mass shooting deaths. Choose one.

Stipulate these three major factors that contribute to the steep rise in mass shooting fatalities in America are collectively (though not exclusively) causative. The proportions and relationships between these factors may vary somewhat from incident to incident, but data strongly indicate that they are all three present in some combination in nearly ALL mass shootings over the past ten years.

The three factors are:

1. Easy access to high levels of firepower, through multiple firearms, high-capacity magazines, and/or weapons with high firing rates via automatic or semi-automatic firing ability. The "ease of access" factor is made up of a number of elements including limitations on background checks, lack of age restrictions, etc. This combines with the reality that high levels of firepower can be amassed quite legally via purchase of weapons with such firepower and/or purchase of easily modifiable weapons and the accessories or equipment necessary to convert them.

2. Inability of social services, medical services, and law enforcement to combine a demonstrated pattern of domestic violence with confiscation of weapons already in perpetrators' possession and prevention of their obtaining more weapons. In some cases this is because (in some cases multiple) reports of abuse have never been pursued to the point of the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and reporting that would initiate the process of confiscation/prevention where such statutes apply, and in some cases this is because there are no such statutes applicable.

3. The presence of high levels of 'toxic white masculine inadequacy (TWMI)' psychology in the perpetrators' worldview and motivations. Indicating factors include patterns of verbal and physical bullying, abuse of animals, claims of experiencing victimization based on ethnicity and gender, identification with aggressive, violent cultural and social sub-groups, and increasing social isolation outside such groups.

The elimination of any ONE of these three factors would sharply decrease the incidence of mass shooting fatalities in America. The elimination of all three would bring a virtual end to such incidents altogether, but it's probably too much to hope for.

Each path has its own costs, barriers, challenges, and chances for success.

Path One: Eliminate access to high levels of firepower
This is the 'gun control' route: Enactment and vigorous enforcement of nationwide legal restrictions on the acquisition of specific quantities and/or types of guns, accessories, etc. While from a technical standpoint it is probably the simplest path, it is neither easy nor cheap. The political will is almost certainly lacking and it would take considerable time and money and possibly some sacrifice of Constitutional liberties to achieve, as well as a large investment in enforcement and possibly in an effort to remove most or all of the existing weaponry that would contravene such restrictions, from the hands of existing legal owners.

It would likely be quite effective in greatly diminishing mass shooting fatalities although it would not guarantee against escalations of other types of fatal mass violence (bombings, plowing through crowds with automobiles, etc.) and it would not alleviate the growing toll of 'retail-level' gun fatalities such as one-on-one shootings, gang violence with handguns, suicides, and accidental deaths.

Path Two: Facilitate reliable identification and disarmament of domestic violence perpetrators
This is a complex challenge as it combines overcoming the cultural tolerance of domestic violence against women and its enabling by multiple systems, with the enactment and enforcement of uniform legal mechanisms to disarm, track, and prevent the rearmament of perpetrators. While political will in this direction has gained some momentum, it may take considerable time and investment to build support for the solution and reassure those threatened by the notion that such a system could be abused and/or used against them.

Also, getting law enforcement and all those other systems to actually work together and/or vigorously implement threat assessment and targeting would be... extremely challenging. (Law enforcement is one of the professions that seems to be associated with an elevated risk for engaging in domestic abuse.) However, it would likely be quite effective in reducing mass shooting fatalities (although again, it might not have much impact on other gun-related fatalities.)

Path Three: Develop a robust system to prevent, identify, and treat TWMI nationwide
Personally, I think this one is least likely to be successful as a dedicated effort on any timeline short enough to significantly reduce the death toll. But in the long run it could effectively be brought about as a side effect of numerous other social and political changes potentiated by demographic and cultural trends. Reversing income inequity, strong and substantial investments in quality public education and environmental sustainability, massive infrastructure investments, could provide the younger population cohorts with hopes for meaningful human connection, quality of life, and fulfilling work.

Combining that with the aging and natural death of the older population cohorts, and the improvement of social conditions generally, would diminish the death toll-- particularly if one of the other paths was also implemented to reduce mass shootings and their attendant anxiety, paranoia, division, and social disruption. Without that additional intervention, consistent and expensive effort might achieve the result, but not for several decades or even a century.

How much passion, how many resources, how much political will can we commit to ending mass shooting deaths?

Personally, I don't think we can do all three. But it's an option. Which (if any) do you think offers the likeliest hope? Respond in the poll below.


It is With a Heavy Heart That I Sit Down to Write this Post

Not least, because I've written it in so many ways, so many times before.

From 2012: Gun sanity: "It won't work because..." <---This is BULLSHIT

From 2014: Why Can't Doctors Identify Killers?

From 2016: IT'S. THE. GUNS.

From 2017: Obligatory Reminder That "Sickeningly Evil" Does NOT Equate to "Mentally Ill"

I've been here on DU since 2001. Back then I used to engage in a good many discussions on how to reconcile the freedom from having your kids shot at school (the Columbine massacre was just a couple of years before DU came online) with the freedom from any restrictions on gun ownership. It was passionate then, too.

Over the years, I've heard pretty much all the arguments on both sides, all the refutations of all the arguments, all the rebuttals to the refutations, ad infinitum.

And people kept dying from bullets, propelled by firearms, in ever-increasing numbers.

I used to think, "If we can just ignite sufficient passion for keeping people from having to fear their fellow-citizens, we can overcome the money and the hype and come up with some sensible ways to allow hunters and target shooters to enjoy their activities and keep the schools and malls and concert venues safe, and maybe reduce the number of rage killings and suicides using firearms, too..."

That was about a hundred million gun sales ago, or thereabouts, I guess.

For a while, with each new horror... Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, Aurora... I kept thinking "Maybe this will finally tip the balance. Maybe this will be the one that lights up the American conscience to the point of finally outweighing the money, the hype, the fearmongering..."

And then came Sandy Hook. And I was sure then, that if there was any truth, any sense of decency remaining in America, that would be the catalyst, and change WOULD finally happen.

And since Sandy Hook we've had Orlando, and Sutherland Springs, and Las Vegas, and I've-lost-count-of-how-many-more tragedies.

And I am still trying to find words to put in this post that don't seem utterly futile.

I'm sick.

I'm weary.

I'm heartbroken.

When I was a kid, we did "duck and cover" drills in case the commies decided to kill us all, and that was scary, but it was a cold, second-hand, antiseptic kind of scary. We never had to walk past the dead bodies of our schoolmates on our way out of the shelter. Our parents never had to think, seriously think, on a daily basis, about kissing us and telling us they loved us when they sent us off to school because it might be the last time...

I honestly don't know why every parent with a child in an American school doesn't rise up and march on Washington and park themselves on the Mall with tents and energy bars and refuse to move until this goddamned do-nothing batch of pusillanimous weasels in Congress finally slam-dunk the thrice-cursed NRA into the dustbin of history.

I would personally bring crates-- hell, truckloads-- of energy bars.

But it won't happen.

And in a few weeks, maybe months if we're lucky, I'll be doing this again, sitting at my keyboard, trying to parse some sense into the pain and rage and despair resonating from yet another horror.


10 Suggestions to REALLY Honor Our Servicemembers

1. Fully fund ALL veterans benefits for ALL veterans, including educational, health care, insurance, etc. That means funding the agencies and personnel to DELIVER the services, timely and with a minimum of bureaucratic paper shuffling.

2. Raise the base pay for enlisted E-1 through E-3 by a minimum of fifteen percent, for E-4 through E-6 by 10 percent, and remaining enlisted by five percent, for all warrant ranks by five percent, and adjust special allowances up by at least 3%.

3. Decommission outdated and nonfunctional protective gear, armor, and personal field equipment and replace it all with new gear that's both functional and mission-appropriate.

4. Replace that godawful toilet paper with abundant packets of wipes and absorbent, smooth toilet paper.

5. Upgrade all base housing with insulation, climate control, sufficient power outlets, really functional showers, wi-fi boosters, and room-darkening blinds.

6. Increase housing and living allowances for deployments where no base living facilities are available.

7. Upgrade, shield, and security-protect high-bandwidth communications for personnel on deployment to communicate with family and friends at home, and increase the number of available media stations by somewhere around three times current availability.

8. Improve in-field mental health and substance abuse evaluation, treatment and support services in all combat duty stations.

9. Invest a BUTTLOAD of cash in researching treatment for blast-related injury, and begin immediate triage and treatment in all field and evac base medical facilities the minute any promising treatments emerge.

10. Replace Cadet Bone Spurs with someone who actually gives a shit about soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and coast guards.

Some, maybe even MOST of these suggestions would probably be less expensive than a stupid-ass mass troops plus ordinance parade in DC, especially if you include the cost of replacing all those roads torn up by the Bradleys, etc.

I'm just guessing here, but military personnel past and present can correct me if I'm wrong when I say that pretty much all of them would be more welcome to "the troops" than said parade.

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