I think today was the breaking point for my stance on allowing firearm possession. It’s become too tragic to defend.

The pace of these things just seems to be accelerating. It’s frustrating to me and I honestly can’t understand it.

My dad and his classmates used to bring guns to school and keep them in their lockers to hunt squirrels on the way home. But that just isn’t the nation we live in anymore, as much as I wish it was. There were no incidences like this in his time. It’s a damning indictment of us as a society and how far we’ve fallen within a single generation, stooping to a point where we’re amused and content to allow ourselves to be defined by mindless cultural phenomenon like Honey Boo Boo and the Jersey Shore. Sadly, it’s possible to make the argument that today’s 30 year old “man” lacks the responsibility and decency of a 13 year old a generation ago.

I’d like to hear some intelligent commentary from someone as to why this keeps happening. The media reaction is always about how tragic these events are (and they are very tragic) and then the gunman / gunmen are immediately vilified and assumed to be insane, deranged, etc.

So either:

  1. There are a lot of insane and deranged people capable of getting access to firearms. That may be true, but have guns become easier to access in the last 10+ years since these type of shootings began? Or have people become more deranged in the last 10+ years?


  1. The killers are not as insane or deranged as people believe and these shootings are a symptom of some much larger problem in our society (a problem that has apparently intensified somehow in the last 10+ years).

Either way, it would be interesting to hear some constructive commentary on why the incidence of school shootings has gone from basically a non-event 10+ years ago to a multi-shooting-per-year phenomenon today. What changed?

As a parent of a kid in elementary school I’m disgusted, literally nauseated by this. Shootings have, obviously, bothered me before. This is different.

Scum of the earth.

You and me both bro. Is Blake and armchair psychologist of deranged criminal minds too?

I think media has something to do with it, which is not to blame the media necessarily, but simply to acknowledge how the social environment has changed. My argument is that violence starts needs to escalate to higher and higher levels for it to be “shocking,” and that the internet and 24 hour news cycle makes the entire world the base of comparison.

If this shooter had shot fewer people than at Columbine, would still be tragic and outrageous, but would not be quite as shocking, and so any time that someone goes insane or is extremely angry, it makes them think - “I/We gotta kill more people than X in a bloodier way, etc.” I mean, if these people are about to kill and be killed, why settle for “he was almost as bad as the Columbine killers,” when one can try to find a way to be worse.

This still doesn’t speak to the increased frequency of events. I’m not sure if these events have picked up in frequency or simply in magnitude. The frequency of events like this at this magnitude or greater seems to have picked up, however, and that may make these kinds of people seem like they are more commonly around. Population has gone up too, as well as population density, so it may well be that our exposure to these types of people has increased with population density.

I can state without qualification that guns are more difficult to access, although they are still relatively easy to obtain. Really, I’d say they’re probably about the same level of access, but a few more rules.

I tend to think it’s a combination of 1&2. I blame a large part of it on societal issues. But I also think as our gene pool progresses we’re seeing increased dispersion. Smart people seem to be getting smarter, athletes are getting stronger and faster, and people are maturing earlier in life. Similarly, the mental issues may be growing as well. I don’t want to completely whitewash the past, they had the texas tower sniper and terrorists in the 60’s. But those were definitely much more isolated occurances.

I don’t get it. Anyhow, it’s been a long week, I’m exhausted, and I’m at a loss trying to understand or explain this right now. Maybe my thoughts will solidify more over the weekend.

I also agree with much of what Bchad is saying.

There is probably a multiplier effect also. That is, the more public shootings occur (and the more they are publicized), the more people will be inspired to do the same thing. Deranged people must choose to do this, instead of something else, after all.

But are people really becoming more violent, or do we just have access to instant news, so incidences of violence become more apparent? Other kinds of violence… like say, lynch mobs, don’t seem to happen any more.

It would be interesting if there was an article outlining the ages of random public shootings. The VT school shooter was 23, Batman theater 24, and now this guy was 20. The recent Oregon mall shooter was also 20. I wonder if theres a trend of males between ages 20-25. I guess this is an age where males give up on life or something goes seriously wrong.

It’s probably correlated with the state of the economy or other macro factors also. This year, unemployment is high, and politics are polarized. Many people are angry that the country is “going in the wrong direction”. This leads to frustration and maybe violence for some. Many youths aged 20-25 have no career prospects, which results in lack of purpose in life and the desire to lash out at society. So maybe 2012 is just a bad year due to a combination of factors. It’s not clear that this is actually a long term trend.

i bet you can guess what i think are the reasons. there are many many people out there who do not value human life because they do not value themselves. it’s a symptom of the philosophy of (or lack of) the average person. children grow up never being taught what is required of them to be a member of a free society. ask 1,000 18 year olds what human happiness entails and i bet you’ll be disgusted by the statistics.

more control over guns only treats the symptom (inadequately and at a cost that feeds the beast), not the disease. unfortunately a free society can only be enjoyed by a moral people. real morality has been under attack by collectivism’s counterfeit morality for a century.

Are there actually more of these things now than there were 20 years ago, or are we just more likely to hear about them because of 24/7 news, social media, etc.? There probably are, but wondering what kind of increase we’re looking at.

Brain studies suggest that although adolescent body development is basically complete by age 18-20, adolescent brain development continues until about 25. That seems to be when most peoples’ personalities and value systems tend to “settle” into their lifetime default settings (though they can still change in response to crisis events).

There may be something about late adolescense and early adulthood that makes it especially difficult to control one’s emotions. At 23, people may feel that if they haven’t foudn themselves on a successful track by then, it’s all over. (But actually, that feeling can happen at any age - it’s just that the ability to deal with that feeling generally gets stronger over time).

Certainly with suicides, there tend to be copycat effects that one suicide can make it more likely to see another. I wouldn’t be too surprised if this happens with homicides as well.

Interesting statistic: suicide rates are actually about 2x the homicide rate in the US. On top of that, many suicides are not classified as such, particularly if deaths occur from what appears as unnecessary recklessness.

I agree with you. But I don’t think the cause can be treated so in this case I’m more angling towards acceptance and treating the symptoms.

You make some good points about media and the internet, bchadwick. I was also thinking about it from this perspective. If you think about pre-internet media (which I can sort of vaguely remember), the distribution of content was much more tightly controlled. This sort of event would have made the evening news, but it wouldn’t have had the kind of distribution and shelf life that it has today with the internet. As you suggested, the killer would not be a sort of celebrity as they are now.

But I wonder if it’s more than that. Technologically, our society is more connected than ever before. But I wonder if there has been any serious study of the isolating impacts of the internet. Is it possible that certain already fringe personalities become even more isolated or fringe as a function of more widely available information that allows them to (unfavorably) compare themselves to societal ideals? Certainly, the internet has had an impact on how competitive life is. Before, if you were a loser in a small town (where many of these shootings seem to happen – maybe I’m wrong about that though) you could still remain fairly buffered from the world at large. Today, that is no longer possible. I’m not saying “teh internet” is to blame for this, but I have to wonder if some fringe personalities feel even more fringe on a relative basis to broader society than they have in the past because of the more widely available access to information.

In other words, people have been angry and isolated before, but perhaps media is accelerating or intensifying anger and isolation for some people.

Not an excuse by any means. But I agree with Black Swan that guns probably aren’t more widely available, so it has to be something else. It’s cultural and societal.

and i agree with you. this whole society has to capitulate before we can start over and try to get it right. that is why totalitarianism and a whole lotta human misery is in our future.

This is sort of what I was getting at too. I don’t know if this is a function of sort of struggle against the conspiracy of socialism or something, but I do think more widely available media devalues the average person. If you’re already below average, perhaps you would feel even more devalued. If it gets bad enough, maybe you do something crazy.

I agree that gun control would do nothing to stop these incidences from occurring.

So if collectivism has degraded the moral character of people and driven them to shooting up schools of children, why aren’t there more school shooters in socialist countries like the UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the like? The problem should be way worse over there. Even if it’s because of restrictions on personal liberties (i.e. gun control), surely there can be lots of school poisonings, knifings, etc. to show how bad it is over there with all that collectivism.

Turd argues that a free society can only be enjoyed by a moral people. If people are immoral, does that mean the state needs to force them to be moral, or just that a libertarian free society is a pipe dream? And if human beings are tempted to be immoral, how does a free society of moral people protect against the free choice of some members to be immoral without becoming an unfree society?

I don’t see the shoot-em-ups as being rooted in collectivism. It sounds like Turd is trying to say that someone was just so upset about Obamacare that he decided, “I’ll shoot up some kids, that’ll show 'em that I’m a free person!” I think colectivism has plenty of risks and downsides, but I think it’s reaching for straws to try to blame this on things like unemployment insurance.

i think you’re right on with the increased ability of average people to compare themselves to a broader set. when people derive their value in reference to other people, it’s not so bad when you can only compare yourself to Billy Joe, Bob, Darrell, Darrell and Darrell. But when you get to follow the life of KK on TV and then compare her lifestyle to your own, it’s easy to feel pretty worthless and possibly get angry. It’s also easy to think these lifestyles are normal, when in fact they are representative of a fraction of a percent of people’s lives. but you’re only vulnerable to this if you derive your value in reference to other people. i think this is the mold that an increasing number of people fall into. again it gets back to a lack of understanding of what real individualitic happiness entails.

This tragedy has brought BS and TF together.