email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Yet Another Mass Shooting

I want to recognize the shooting tragedy in Orlando Florida US.  50 people died and 53 others were wounded.  Some of them may not live.  There is some uncertainty (as I write this) about the motive.  It was at a popular evening club for members of the LBGT community.  I haven't seen evidence yet about whether the club was a target because of the LBGT  audience of just the large audience.  Regardless, my thoughts go out to all the friends, family, and residents.

This level of hatred just astounds me.  I assume it is good that I can't comprehend the level of anger that drives some people to such violence.  But comprehending it might help to find ways to reduce the prevalence of such terrible acts.  We need to capture, not kill, such shooters in order to understand their motives through prolonged psychiatric evaluation.

Part of the problem is the gun culture in the US.  We have way too many guns.  Something like 350 million of them; more than one person man/woman/child.  I heard one commentator say that stopping all gun sales today would not have much effect because the existing guns (and available parts for repairs) would would last 500 years.  I suspect that person was correct.

I know the National Rifle Association claims that "if more people were armed, the shooter would have been killed".  That is quite possibly correct.  The problem is that if that many people were carrying arms around with them everyday, more people than the 50 would be killed around the US for other reasons of personal passion or suicide.

Too many people want easy solutions.  One side says "arm everyone".  The other side says "confiscate all weapons".  Neither would work. 

The first would have us all carrying handguns.  Handguns are notoriously inaccurate.  There are videos of trained police shooting at criminals only yards away and not hitting them.  Or maybe we should all carry AK-47s.  So we would shoot the shooters; and everyone to the sides of them.  Too many people couldn't shoot a barn wall from inside the barn.

The second would have us ban and confiscate all guns.  A wonderful idea that will not work.  You would never find most of them.  If I wanted to, I could buy a dozen serious guns this week and hide them all for decades.  And as the non-NRA guy said, they last for centuries.

One solution is obviously identifying the potential shooters.  But that won't work either.  What are you going to do?  Identify all angry people and lock them up "pre-crime"?  That's science fiction dystopia. 

The real solution is to solve the causes of such virulent anger.  But that will probably not happen because it is too difficult, would require massive governmental interference in our personal lives, and create a Police State that would be the envy of dictators everywhere.

So what do we do?  Well, we try to solve the causes of hatred and anger.  That's hard, and we aren't used to that KIND of massive effort.  It could be done.  And there is some comfort in the fact that we (worldwide) have been learning to avoid mass war for scores of years. 

We used to just routinely kill each other in wars over local politics, power, and greed (medieval Europe for example.  Then we "advanced" to  wars for international influence and territory (exploration and colonialism).  That culminated in WWII and faded slowly as colonial empires collapsed and subjugated population freed themselves (Vietnam, Africa, Former Soviet Union territories).

Today, we are facing the leftover hatreds of religious differences.  And they are numerous.  No religion is free of the guilt.  The primary murderous contention today is between Moslems and Jews and Moslems and Christians, but there is mass murder between Hindus and Moslems and Buddhists in Asia and minority religions are attacked by other majority religions all over the world.

The majority of mass murders are religiously-oriented these days.  And someday, that will pass too.  As standards of living slowly rise (an assumption I accept), economic and political reasons to commit mass murder will decline.  Hopefully religious causes will will also diminish. 

As tragic as the Orlando and other mass murders are, it is worth putting the numbers into perspective.  103 killed and wounded is serious and terrible.  But so many more people die every day.

The US population was 324 million in 2013.  Of that, 2.6 million people died.  Of those, the vast majority died from diseases.   136.000 died from accidents.  43,000 committed suicide.  15,000 people were murdered.  137 were killed in mass murders.

Mass murders are horrific.  They are cruel, terrible, evil, and unnecessary.  They do not accomplish the goals of the mass murderers.  But they are also a negligible minor footnote on the world population.  We can survive this insane strategy until the impetus wears out.

Meanwhile, we will properly mourn the accidental victims, try to discover the causes, and move on.

And, BTW, it is not a "War On Terrorism", it is a "War On TerrorISTS"...


Megan said...

Well written, Mark, but I'm voting to do SOMETHING about limiting access to guns. It would be a long haul, but you start with a public education campaign. The number of gun crimes in America is bizarre and that it they are apparently just accepted as part of life even more so. Come Down Under and see how the other half live - quite successfully - without many guns at all.

Sydney, Australia

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

I agree, but how do you get rid of 350 million guns? It is like putting the genie back in the bottle.

There are too many crazed people who insist that they must have guns in order to protect themselves from other people with guns. The fact that more people die from guns than are saved by guns does not matter to them. They are "belief-proofed" in their assumptions.

The gun culture is almost like poison ivy. If you don't have it around, that's great. But when it is everywhere, it is nearly impossible to get rid of.

Can you get rid of all the rabbits in Australia? There are about 200 m8llion of them, best count I found. There are some problems with a tipping point beyond which is unstoppable. Australian rabbits, US guns. And the rabbits are probably easier to eliminate. I doubt there is a NRA "National Rabbit Association" in Australia.

Megan said...

Yes - I'm not suggesting for one moment that it would be easy. But ... in times past, non-white people were slaves and it was impossible to imagine plantations running successfully without them. More recently, women stayed at home and had babies while men went to work and earned money. Homosexuality was a crime. Smoking was good for your health. Public education campaigns do make a difference. The campaign to educate people about the health risks of smoking have taken several generations to really become embedded; with guns, it may be even longer. But you've gotta start somewhere.

Sydney, Australia