This is in the Letters to the Future department. We recently had two more multiple killings in the US – one man killed two and wounded nine with a handgun in a Louisiana movie theater, another two young brothers stabbed five family members to death in their Oklahoma home (more here). This follows the murder of five military service members in Tennessee the week before. And it wasn’t that long ago before more multiple murders were committed, and before that even more. There definitely seems to be a correlated sequence of multiple killings from unexpected ambush going on in our land. And none of them are crimes of forceful takings; there was no robbery or confiscation of material things by the killers, they just wanted to kill as many people as possible before (usually) taking their own lives or being killed by police.
All of these killings receive extensive media attention. Regular programming is interrupted with detailed reports, more often than not containing very little additional information but repeating in great detail what was reported before. The media outlets seem to be in a frenzy to compete with each other as they broadcast live from the crime scenes the very latest developments no matter how insignificant, just to have another excuse to comfort their audiences so that they will not miss a jot or jiggle about the latest tragedy.
The killers seem to be of two distinct groups – the mentally weak/deranged and the ideologically driven. The Tennessee killings were definitely motivated by Islamic globalism, and was the latest of a long string of such inspired killings in America. The Louisiana killing had components of both a deranged ideology and a deranged psychology. The Oklahoma killings were committed for unknown reasons by two deranged sons of a larger family, and seem to have no greater motivation than some intra-family tensions. Yet they all have a common thread in that whatever the dissatisfaction was, it was best solved by multiple killings that would draw a known measure of national and international attention to the killers and their causes.
To me it becomes more clear with every episode that such killing sprees are triggered and, perhaps even motivated by the coverage that the previous occasions of murder and mayhem received. The common mentality of the killers seems to be that their final ‘moment in the sun’ is clearly worth the loss of their lives and/or lifelong freedom. The question quickly arises how would the frequency and magnitude of such killings be affected if they each did not receive the media circus that each has to date launched. Would they continue to be so attractive to the next potential killer if the ‘glory component’ were removed or greatly reduced?
When you consider the number of borderline deranged or ideologically primed people out there who are drawn and positively impacted by today’s lurid and drawn out coverage of these events, it staggers the imagination about what is yet to come. We can get a sense of the numbers when we consider poll results of our indigenous Muslim population. The results from a poll by the liberal Migration Policy Institute are reported here.
To arrive at an estimate of the deranged one need only to consult the ‘Mental Illness Facts and Numbers’ published by the National Institute of Mental Health (Download Mentalillness_factsheet). It would be extremely conservative to assume that in the US at least one person in 100,000 is in a mental state that a continuing reportage of single person carnage would trigger them to seriously consider perpetrating one such event themselves in order to bring their own condition to some state of conclusion or resolution. If we expand that into a population of 320 million, then there are at least 3,200 of such desperate individuals out there looking at the news and seeing their own vindication in a similar act. Out of such a population, it is not unreasonable to accept that two or three per year would commit to such a crime, and at least one would proceed undetected to execution. As the NIMH report indicates, the actual numbers are most likely higher.
So the question stands – do we entice our own mentally ill and religious zealots to commit mass murders by the exhaustive coverage of such events. I believe we do. But if that is the problem, then the cure is not clear in a liberal nation whose population is in the large stimulated by circuses rich in death and destruction. The state cannot readily shut off such reporting, the demand for which has become a cultural imperative for us.
[26jul15 update] As expected, our liberal commenters would rather not address the point of the above commentary, but immediately rewind and replay their sermons on ‘gun violence’. This relatively new term is used today by people given to socialism and central planning as a blanket pejorative in their unceasing efforts to disarm America’s civilian population. One typical approach is to cite the average number of people whose death is caused by firearms, the implied point for the light thinkers being that if we only removed guns from the law abiding population, then this many deaths would be avoided and lives saved.
Today public sentiment dictates that their approach to banning guns must be surreptitious and piecemeal, essentially proscribing the legal usage of guns, making their acquisition range from difficult to impossible, and reducing the availability of ammunition and other gun related equipments. But their fundamental tack is still to add more gun laws to the books to augment and complicate the unenforced laws already in place.
Apropos to that, Associated Press reports that almost all the recent mass shootings were committed by people whose possession and acquisition of guns was already prohibited by existing laws (more here). The killers obtained their murder weapons either because government did not enforce a law, or the law’s enforcement went awry through one or more bureaucratic mistakes. Nevertheless, our progressives’ eternal solution is to pass yet more laws which are guaranteed to suffer the same fate at the hands of criminals, crazies, and the dedicated combatants. And so goes our national gun debate in 2015.