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Mass shootings in the United States: 2009 - 2016
Here's «an analysis of mass shootings that took place between January 2009 and December 2016.» Some highlights:

* «there have been 156 mass shootings,»
* «1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured,»
* «54 percent of cases — were related to domestic or family violence,»
* «25 percent of mass shooting fatalities (211) were children,»
* «42 percent of cases — the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shooting,»
* and «34 percent — involved a shooter who was prohibited from possessing firearms.»

While the stats are very interesting, their shallow analysis of why we have these stats, and consequent conclusion, leaves much to be desired. This happens a lot with gun crime. Political charlatans distil it to fodder for the gun control debate. In my view, gun control is a red herring. I don't mean to say that wibbling gun laws is entirely ineffective — but it is definitely treating symptoms, when we should be fighting the root cause.

It isn't entirely clear what the root cause actually is, but I think alienation, isolation, and hopelessness, are all important keys to unlocking the mass shooting mystery.

Possibly my favourite quote of all time is by Fredy Perlman: «Men who were much but had little now have much but are little.» And when you have little, and have nowhere to go, what can we honestly expect? Adam Lanza called Anarchy Radio and talked about "Travis the chimp," who ripped the face of their caretaker, and how there's a parallel to mass shooters there.; caged and domesticated animals lash out unpredictably.
This is a topic I am interested in and have been working on for a bit. Definitely agree that most coverage of this problem doesn't get too deep into the real causes.

Want to say that I support people having gun rights, understand it's culturally a little different in various regions of the country, mostly normal people protecting their homes etc. And I think the general population would want to be armed if trying to overthrow the government, capitalism, civilization etc. and so we wouldn't want to advocate losing that access to weaponry.
I also want to make a note that liberals (not radical left, not post-left crowd, etc.) are often wrong about guns. Silly things, like the phrasing of what an assault rifle is or is not. But it makes them look ignorant and helps conservatives ignore a very real issue. Saw a photo of an eight year old who was killed in the elementary school shooting the other day; very depressing, not an abstract statistic. Gun critics shouldn't lose this argument because of strawman-style semantics about how the stupid gun functions.

But this is clearly a ridiculous problem in America -- and yet seems to occur mainly in the U.S.? So why is that? I think Alexander is correct that "alienation, isolation, and hopelessness" are all involved, as well as how "caged and domesticated animals lash out unpredictably." Of course.
But then that again makes me wonder why this is so particular to the U.S.? We all can articulate the basic reasons for the constant alienation within modern (now global) industrialism, but this doesn't happen constantly in other societies. So what makes it unique here?

Seems like we have to dig through a few threads:
Civilization's (but, in particular, America's) obsession with technology and progress
The point when a technology becomes weaponry
The way that violence can be communicative -- and, by extension, a model for future behavior
The cultural, historical, etc. influences that exacerbate all of these things (ranging from unquestioned assumptions one is propagandized into believing, literal politicians enacting shit policies etc.)
And the way that these threads all tangle and intensify each other.

For example, the school shooting I mentioned earlier was related to a domestic violence problem. So we are already getting into these other social issues of patriarchy, abusive relationships, etc. But note the language of the shooter: "they found a handwritten note of Anderson’s discussing his feeling 'disrespected'" -- notions of honor/respect are often involved in American violence. []

The U.S.'s Christian heritage and strong individualist bent has led to a society based on shame. People internalize and dwell on their failures -- which are structural issues: You're not poor because you're lazy, you're poor because of capitalism -- and this is the sort-of place where one runs into the rising opioid rates among whites. But not everyone simply harms themselves or commits suicide. Others project this violence onto those they perceive as having harmed them -- often doing so with these projectile weapons. That idea of revenge seems to stem from the historical culture of the South (people doing things like having duels to settle disputes) combined with the heritage of the West (frontier/pioneer types were somewhat on their own, rules settled their own way on the fringes of civilization).
I think for many mass shooters, they want to view themselves as historical actors, modeling their behavior on the glorified violence celebrated throughout American history. Then they may also be remembered as having been someone important. Especially in cases where someone like Elliot Rodgers wanted to start a movement against women or whatnot; like their shooting will the the catalyst to stop all the SJWs, begin the race war, whatever stupid goal they have.

Related to weaponry and abusive relations seems to be the notion of teaching a lesson. The violence is always rationalized, of course. "I didn't want to hit you, but you left me with no other choice." I mean, the reasons are usually dumb anyway, like stop the white women from having sex with nonwhites, or media praising Trump's Syria strikes last week or even the egregious Mother of All Bombs dropped earlier today. We see violence as communicative throughout history via lynchings too. But many lynchings also involved shootings and castrations. Not even to just nonwhites, they even did this to Everest in Centralia. Technology, sexuality, hierarchy, violence etc. -- all topics the anti-civ crowd is quite knowledgeable about.  
But even beyond outright acts of violence: I can't see how these conservatives carrying massive guns to the Starbucks, ordering a drink under the name "Trump," and then being like: "lol you fuckin' liberal snowflakes are so dumb, scared of a gun, idiots" is NOT supposed to communicate something. It's clearly intimidating. Actually harming people is the logical conclusion when resistance comes up the social hierarchy and they must maintain their privileged position.

Another issue is a generic ontogenetic crippling-style analysis of our society. It's run by a bunch of ManBoys. Their childish notions of masculinity likely also contribute to the guns-as-representing-my-penis type thing many gun-damentalists seem to suffer from. It's what you learn in this society! You play Cowboys & Indians, you play Cops & Robbers, etc. -- but what did you play with? The toy here was the gun. American obsession with technology (including violent technology) is also a factor -- those "beautiful" attacks on Syria that Williams spoke about the other day, the spectacle of Shock & Awe broadcast into everyone's homes etc.

The question of guns, for me, comes down to: Can a hierarchical society made up of completely paranoid, stressed, mentally-unhealthy, hate-filled constituents be trusted to outfit everyone with items that can do so much harm so easily? And why would they make that in the first place? What do you do once it is there? What happens when easy access to deadly technology proliferates in a society completely made up of sociopathic people?

Anyway, sorry for tl;dr post, which wasn't even super in-depth, but I have to go somewhere. Hope everyone finds these ideas useful for starting the discussion. We can still talk about the Wise Use/patriot types and how they are directly at war with the anti-civ types or whatever ya'll would like. Thanks for reading.
It always struck me as to how similar these cases were to the amok of Malay culture:
Great post, Rick.

When it comes to gun restriction laws, I'm of the opinion that if getting rid of, or restricting, guns saves lives, then that's what we should do at present. So it's just a very practical myopic attitude that I have. However, I am adamantly opposed to getting rid of guns in countries where actors of state violence (i.e., nearly always, the state monopoly on violence through a police force) have guns. If the cops have guns, the citizens should too. If the cops don't have guns (at least most of the time), well, then I'm more happy to entertain restrictions/education/other forms of gun law wibbling. But even if I think it's OK, and maybe even theoretically preferable, to take away guns in certain situations, I definitely believe this to be a red herring, as I mentioned earlier.

You are right on in pointing out that the problem is ridiculous in the US, and that the US problem really sticks out like a sore thumb. Would the problem be less obvious with gun law wibbles? Probably. Would it still be obvious? Probably.

When it comes to your point on shame, it is obvious that the US has nothing on e.g. Japan. Just look at the suicide rates per capita; they're telling. But I think the shame aspect in the US is very specifically tied to this great joke, the American Dream. (Like George Carlin said, «it's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.»)

In addition to the things you mentioned, I would like to mention that the US is founded upon genocide, and has a very blood-soaked founding history. It's also the only country that's used the atom bomb in a war. There's lots of things to talk about here. And while it would be difficult to observe independent variables in a way that would let us pinpoint reasons specific per se to the US, a qualitative survey would definitely find lots of peculiarities when they're all added up.

Another thing I'd like to mention is art and entertainment. There's got to be lots of people who've done research about this. I haven't, but, glancing from afar, there seems to be another set of peculiarities there. One is how dramatic Americans tend to be about sex, fantastical violence, and gore in entertainment (much more so than more realistic or nonchalant depictions of things like murder). Another is how obsessed lots of — rather mainstream — American entertainment is with this concept of vengeance. The former seems comical to me as a Norwegian, the latter morbid. Your point on domestic violence being rooted in the notion of teaching a lesson is connected to this "justice" fetishism that manifests as vengeance.

Lastly, I'd like to mention the media. Is the US media especially bad, compared to e.g. the UK media? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But there's no doubt that it's a contributing factor. Not only because of the obvious problem of turning death and decay into clicks and ad revenue, but also because of the extreme polarisation that I perceive in US media — which rubs off on ordinary citizens, which you talk about with your Starbucks example.

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