Why the Shootings in the United States?


    It is now routine for everyone in the United States who has access to a microphone or printed word to ask the question, Why the mass shootings?  The answers given always center on two reasons.  Either there is an attempt to explain the motive of the shooter or there are too many guns.  Politicians, particularly the two men running for President of the United States, substitute condoles censes for analysis. 

    This article discusses each of these explanations and then offers a third.

    First, a motive alleges to explain why a person intended to act in a specific manner.  But a motive is not a causal explanation of behavior. A casual relationship between the perpetrator and victim is complex, and very had to determine.  Often there are both biological and sociological factors that are interrelated.  In some instances the perpetrator lives an unsatisfied life, feels threatened, and seeks to direct their hatred of life and themselves toward perceived threats.  This was evident in the assault against the Wisconsin Sikh community in the mistaken belief that they were Muslims.  But in such cases of severe violence there is probably mental illness.

    An estimated one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.  This translates to about 60 million people.  About 6 percent suffer from a serious mental illness.  This provides a fertile ground for violent behavior. A related factor is the escalation of hate.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there has been a doubling of hate groups in a decade.  Hate is arguably more pervasive in the United States than     other industrial countries.  Hatred is also bred by the intense religiosity in the United States.

    Second, is the discussion about guns.  The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution is outdated and a justification for gun ownership, and gun violence. There are an estimated 270 million civilian guns in the United States, or a rate of 88.8 guns per 100 people!  With Federalism insuring each state their individual gun control law, effective gun control in the United States is impossible.  Particularly when every home can turn on the television and watch numerous programs where guns and shootings are routine. 

    But third, despite the fact that no country in the world has a mass shooting record that in any way approaches the United States, commentators are not prepared to recognize that the source of the problem is in the culture of the United States itself.  In no democratic country has violence been as pervasive and banal as the United States.  The country was founded on the genocide of the native people, pursued a course of religious puritan violence, and still retains blatant patterns of post slavery racist violence.  The United States pioneered the film and television industry in which violence has arguably been the most prevalent motif.  And then there are the large numbers of young males who are conditioned by watching/playing hours of violent video games a day.  President Eisenhower understood the threat when he described the military industrial complex. The United States has been the only country to use nuclear weapons not once, but twice, against civilians.  The United States has been engaged in more military actions in foreign countries, has more military bases abroad, and spends more on its military budget than all of the other countries of the world     combined.

    This gun violence will not improve regardless of who is elected President this year.  The Obama-Biden government has clearly demonstrated an utter lack of interest, or worse, political disdain, for helping the most disadvantaged United States communities where black on black violence occurs. The Romney-Ryan debt and deficient policies would directly worsen disadvantage in the United States. This, in turn, would intensity the mental disorders that lead to violent outbursts.  The unprecedented number of gun shootings in the United States are a product of a Culture of Violence unmatched anywhere in the world. 

August 13, 2012