Everyone is wrong about guns.
Except possibly Default Friend and Paul Harrell
There’s an old saw about essays being best when like a lady’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to sustain interest. Given my penchant for benign, playful male chauvinism and the modern world’s patience for long-form:
The degree of unjustified militarism is immature, even childish.
There is overlap with and backwash into mass shooter praxis.
Liberals are right that a lot of it is masculinity compensation.
They’ve helped create most of America’s ‘gun violence’ (homicides).
Their regulatory preferences are about punishing conservatives.
The media/activist/hysterical liberal complex is beyond reason.
There are foreign places with more guns that have less violence.
Chaotic, random violence will only increase in the coming years.
Violent, obscene, gluttonous excess is a hallmark of our country.
Long time readers and personal acquaintances will know that I own many guns.
I’m in it for the culture. It’s fun and rewarding to have a tactile piece of history that is a product of technical craft, looks beautiful on a wall, and goes BANG! if you bother buying the obsolete ammo for it, still made by only one factory.
You know that classic Žižek bit where he talks about seeing ‘ideology in toilets’?
Guns are like that, too. If you hold an AK-47 (or a civilian semi-auto copy of an AKM) vs. an M16 (or some civilian copy of an M4) you hold a rifle—but you hold much more than a rifle—you hold the product of an age’s industrial capacity; their military bureaucracies, the genius of their designers and machinists, the outcome of trials, memories of triumph over and humiliation at the hands of the Other—you hold the physical manifestation of a people’s ideas and their ability to bring those ideas into fruition. And not just any ideas; ideas about hunting and killing men in defense of, or against, the State. Every animal knows combat and violence in the Struggle of life, but Man alone knows of weaponry, and in this way he has altered one of the evolutionary primitives and set himself apart.
You see something of the Soviet soul in the AK’s kludged, bent metal receiver, cheap wooden furniture, tangent sights and a magazine lockup which recall bolt action rifles of the 19th century—Communism did not build a comfortable gun, but its children are found all over the world. Meanwhile the M16 was built with 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum, carved to spec with millimeter precision by CNC machines, clothed in space-age polymers. When it debuted, Americans thought it looked like a toy. It was sold to the general public as the SP-1, the Colt Sporter, five full years before the Army would get around to adopting it. Perhaps these rifles’ growing irrelevance in the face of potential nuclear conflict and mass mechanization of infantry warfare has forced them and others to converge over time, but their respective starting points reflect minds alien to one another.
And they’re not just artifacts of humanity’s best and worst natures. They’re quite practical. Long ago, in 2013, perhaps open-mindedly, the Obama administration asked the National Academy of Medicine/National Research Council to study, among other things, the use of firearms in self-defense.
You can read the report yourself but it admits albeit briefly, awkwardly:
A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gun-wielding crime victim. Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies (Kleck, 1988; Kleck and DeLone, 1993; Southwick, 2000; Tark and Kleck, 2004).
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18319.
It’s thankfully rare someone will try to rape, rob, or murder you in this country. America has problems with crime—and they’re getting worse in certain cities—but it is not Brazil. Even Brazil is not Brazil. Things are simply not that bad, but when they are bad, they’re horrible, and you should have a gun (or two) just in case. I recommend getting a Glock 19 (a used Gen 4 is fine) and an AR-15 (anything ‘mil-spec’ is fine), to take some classes, and shoot consistently. It’s an adult responsibility to learn how to clean, securely store, load, and if needed, shoot a gun—people are capable of learning most of what it takes to drive at 16.
But what I’ve described so far is not the full picture of gun culture in America.
It has gone down a new path, far beyond academic, hobbyist, or practical interests. Its tendencies now are straddling a line between the narcissist fantasist’s urge to make their life more interesting and significant than it is, and the fermenting stew of self-propelled radicalization that leads to mass violence.
Coming into full swing during the Clinton Era, with its antecedents in Cold War era reactionary politics, the US saw an explosion of the ‘Militia Movement’, in broad strokes; highly patriotic, anti-government, militarist groups which sometimes broke the law. This binder full of contradictions was embodied by men like Gordon Kahl and Timothy McVeigh, who bookended the zeitgeist.
No matter their motivations, I won’t condone the actions of Kahl and McVeigh. But I won’t condone the actions of the US Government in murdering tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, over three decades of ceaseless elective wars, while its own peoples’ living standards and hopes for their childrens’ future crumbled, either.
If you want to intone deep condemnations of McVeigh for blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but don’t also consider the US morally bankrupt for slaughtering, say, innocent Afghan kids, you’ve got an odd moral calculus, one that McVeigh himself pointed out to a nation still kind of shocked by Waco, TX. But does the on-going evil-doing of the US Government change how you live?
Even people who are parents are capable of appropriately modulating their emotional response to kids murdered for no reason, with no justice done. An entire family butchered by the US Government, the latest in a string of several thousands of such casualties, admitted to, publicized, widely reported on—but that’s Afghanistan for you. None of us meaningfully alter our lives in any way when it turns out our government kills innocents, including children, basically at a random. It’s been going on for decades but it’s far away, and what can we do?
This doesn’t work for right-wing terrorists, who want to Do Something.
And do something they do, whether it’s too much illegal immigration, too many foreign wars, too many onerous taxes (the same issue schools still teach an ever more diverse US’s youth was the just casus belli of the American Revolution, by the way), right-wing terrorists do manage to cause some mayhem. What they don’t manage to do, no matter how many lives they take, is effect any kind of political change in the direction they want—just the opposite in fact.
Political American gun ownership, which likes to puff its chest and remind you that the Second Amendment it really about killing enemies of the People, even when they are the State, is a LARP at best. Because the result of the LARP being made real is something like Anders Breivik in Norway, or Patrick Crusius in El Paso, or the Christchurch Shooter, or the recent (May 14th, 2022) Buffalo Shooter at worst.
From Curtis Yarvin’s excellent essay on Right-Wing Terrorism as Folk Activism:
Whose terrorism is more morally legitimate? The right-wing terrorism of [Anders Breivik'], or the left-wing terrorism of [Osama bin Laden]? ABB is worse than OBL.
Why? Because the law of war is that all war’s carnage, whether it affects “soldiers” or “civilians” (a completely arbitrary distinction) is legitimate if and only if it serves a military purpose. What is a military purpose? Since the purpose of all war is the transfer of political power, a military purpose is a political purpose.
Slaughter that serves no purpose is sadistic, insane, terrible. Slaughter for purpose is the very nature of war, and cannot be separated from it. Since right-wing terrorism does not work, it is illegitimate as a tactic of war. Since left-wing terrorism does work, it is perfectly legitimate. Thus, OBL is legitimate and ABB is not.
Islamic terrorism (which is in every case left-wing—as you can see every time Osama quotes Chomsky) is legitimate because it’s effective. It’s effective because its political result is to expand the political power and privilege of Muslims and their progressive sponsors. Right-wing terrorism is illegitimate because it’s ineffective. It’s ineffective because its political result is to contract the political freedom and influence of conservatives (extremist or moderate).
Maybe this isn’t the way you view the moral legitimacy of guerilla-warfare vs. terrorism. Yet in the fullness of time, this is exactly why the US is not considered an illegal country by anyone who matters, in the way the Confederacy still is.
But the peak of planned, considered, ideological right-wing terrorism is over. Literally zero mainstream conservatives invoking the Second Amendment as a reason gun ownership is justified are ever going to lie in a ditch waiting for a police car to pass so they can machinegun the occupants. They are not going to assassinate the family members of politicians at their places of work, they are not going to storm legislative assemblies—they will not kill uniformed US troops. The entire premise being thrown about is a total political impossibility.
When Twitter bluecheck-having DC commentators say stuff like this:
They don’t mean it. Conservatives LARP about this sort of stuff all the time. Revelations the FBI improperly worked with the Clinton campaign to subvert the electoral process? Nothing. Transgender surgery and hormones forced on kids? A whimper. The red line where CPAC attendees start killing cops? There isn’t one, and they never will (and that’s a good thing), but there’s a cost to LARPing.
What’ll happen instead is more like Patrick Crusius or Payton Gendron—lonely angry young men with paranoid delusional psychologies who are often accidentally egged-on, slowly worked up into a frenzy of violence by irresponsible rhetoric. That’s not to say that the left is innocent of this either. If anything, it’s significantly more responsible because it espouses “direct action” so blatantly whereas the right at least understands it must speak in code and jokes. A genuinely leftwing terrorist egged-on by leftwing rhetoric tried to murder scores of Republican Congressman, and it was more or less memory-holed by a complicit mainstream media. But the left’s position in-the-limit is that guns are bad and civilians shouldn’t have them. The right’s (stated, not serious) position is that guns are cool and civilians should have them in case they need to shoot at politicians. So at least Hodgkinson had some balls.
And it’s pretty clear that absent easy access to guns, most of these kinds of paranoid schizo losers couldn’t kill a lot of people. Consider this guy—who by dint of being black and living in NYC didn’t really have access to a culture of regular legal access to and familiarity with firearms that Elliot Rodger had.
The conservative ecosystem and the gun culture plays kissy-face with all of it.
But you can’t fault them too much - it is fun. Like meme-ing about Pinochet’s helicopters when trans-activists do vile stuff around kids, it’s not even entirely unwarranted; when so much of the political left is so deranged and so weird, why not menace them with talk about which side has guns? Well, again, because besides being obviously a bluff (notice how powerless and lame Ben Shapiro sounds trying to talk tough about his guns) it creates Crusiuses and Gendrons when it does ‘take’. Genuine, legitimate grievances reasonable people might organize around are made fringe and socially unacceptable ideas.
Why does it persist? Because I think, the political right has a ‘penis envy’ of the political left. They see BLM/Hodgkinson/antifa types doing what they wish they could, like a dark mirror of would-be Freikorps.
Like pre-op FtM transitioners, conservatives are packing, but rather than roll up a sock to fill out their boy-shorts, their political impotence manifesting in transgression with phallus substitutes into public spaces just happens in State capitol buildings instead of public bathrooms.
But don’t get too smug, L*beral. Because where the conservative impulse might be stupid, the unexamined moderate and left wing position on guns is retarded.
It manages somehow to have even less merit, on technical and moral premises.
Almost all US firearms murders happen in a few cities, perpetrated by young black men with lengthy prior criminal histories, using illegally obtained handguns, and next to no one is killed with ‘assault weapons’.
i.e. laws about long guns are irrelevant to homicides in the US, the caricature of an angry white guy with a gun is only that, a caricature, and laws which materially penalize the criminals causing America’s gun problems will be laws which disproportionately incarcerate blacks (specifically young black men), and more laws restricting legal gun ownership, particularly in jurisdictions with both lots of gun laws and lots of young black men, are not going to help at all.
You have a few options:
you can take my word for the facts that I’ve stated above:
buy my top subscription tier and receive reams of data about it, if you want
I will also accept crypto (USDC, BTC, or ETH)
you could do what most Bien-Pensants do; take offense and ignore it
And the popularity of option three is really the core problem because a huge amount of dissembling in the debate on guns in the US, as it rages between sets of more or less educated, well-to-do white people, is that the left conflates two different issues—the schoolyard spree shooter and the street criminal of the city.
This happens because in polite company it feels a whole lot more acceptable to complain about white men with AR-15s than the typical person who murders other people with a gun; a young black kid with a pistol aged about 17, in a city.
Here’s an exercise you could try:
With this FBI UCR data in hand, calculate the percentage of people in the US murdered with a rifle of any kind, and those killed by hands, fists, and feet.
American gun violence becomes acute and high pitched in the summer, going back to a tanpura-style drone in the rest of the year. Predominately black neighborhoods suffer, as almost exclusively black teenagers are initiated into gangs with shootings, settle their trivial beefs over girls, drugs, and ‘respect’, and engage in a cadence of anti-social criminality, using guns they strictly never purchase or own legally, circumventing all kinds of local, State and Federal laws.
Consider this piece by Mother Jones: US Mass Shootings, 1982–2022. They claim there have been…128 mass shootings since 1982, with 1,036 deaths, or something like 0.2% of all homicide deaths in the United States over the past forty years.
But that’s quite strange, because EveryTown says that “there have been 277 mass shootings in the United States, …1565 people shot and killed.” since 2009.
~130 mass shootings over forty years, or over 270 in the last thirteen. This is quite the discrepancy. In a country of 340 million people, we have maybe three “mass shootings” a year or more than twenty? What’s going on? The answer of course, is EveryTown included America’s long running low-intensity warfare between usually black, sometimes Latino, gang members killing each other (and bystanders), and Mother Jones didn’t. When you look at America’s violent crime rates with an honest racial lens, you get a different picture of the country’s safety.
You may expect a link to Stormfront, but you’ll have to settle for The Economist:
White America sits comfortably below the OECD average; Latvia is more violent.
And it’s not a poverty thing, either. When mainstream media does try to talk about poor White Americans (who outnumber the poor of any other racial group combined, by the way, and whose poor occupy the poorest counties in America, by the way), they are begrudgingly forced to admit that in “Appalachia: The big white ghetto”, “the overall crime rate throughout Appalachia is about two thirds the national average, and the rate of violent crime is half the national average.”
White America is absolutely awash in guns, and has been since the country’s founding. Its Revolution was fought with the hunting arms of its rebels, its bloody Civil War and World Wars and later conflicts were fought, and still are fought overwhelmingly, by White American Men from the poor places in America where guns are part of manhood, brawling is common, but crime is rare.
There’s really no reason anymore to suspect that more gun laws are going to make a difference in America’s genuinely bad inner-cities because there’s just no way to enforce them without offending the sensibilities of most progressives.
It’s been tried, you know — it was called Stop and Frisk. It worked. It was tossed.
And it’s not as though progressive demands stop at making American cities more dangerous indirectly via failures to adopt good policies which may be insensitive. Thanks to everyone’s favorite Esperanto speaker, George Soros, America’s cities are filled with DAs, prosecutors, and police chiefs who think criminals are good and cops are bad, and that arresting criminals for murder is racist, etc. Perhaps the worst case is one Larry Krasner, the DA of Philadelphia, whose campaign was bankrolled by Soros to pursue criminal justice reform.
What does criminal justice reform look like?
It looks like this, from Heritage:
Let’s put it bluntly: Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the Department, would likely be alive today if Krasner had done his job. Instead, Hassan Elliott, a career felon, parole violator, and wanted murderer, gunned down and killed O’Connor on March 13.
The United States attorney in Philadelphia, William McSwain, laid it all out this past March in a press statement, saying, “The murder was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies.” The press release outlines how Krasner’s office, following Krasner’s policy guidance, allowed Elliott to roam the streets and kill O’Connor, and includes disturbing facts such as:
Krasner’s office gave Elliott a sweetheart deal on a gun charge.
Elliott violated his parole on the gun charge by being arrested for possession of cocaine.
Krasner’s office took no action on Elliott’s parole violation.
Krasner’s office, following Krasner’s lax bail policies, allowed Elliott to be released on his own recognizance despite his 2018 firearms conviction.
Elliott then murdered Tyree Tyrone after he violated his parole while out on bail.
Krasner’s office withdrew the cocaine charges against Elliott, after the Tyrone murder, despite the fact that Elliott failed to appear for his court appearance on the cocaine charges.
Krasner’s office failed to detain Elliott, allowing him to prey on more victims, and ultimately to gun down O’Connor.
Wanna guess in which direction Philadelphia’s crime rate gone, especially regarding murders committed with guns, under District Attorney Krasner?
Hint: here’s Mr. Krasner in his own words:
“We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.”
How can one accept further legal restrictions when a literal crackhead murderer also being black means getting prosecutorial deference, i.e. getting away with it?
The reality is almost everything the left, liberals — whatever you want to call them or call yourself — propose ultimately resembles something calibrated to rub Middle America’s nose in the carpet more than solve any kind of problem. Here’s a rifle banned in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and one that wasn’t:
It’s true, of course, that bayonet lugs and flash hiders are features found on military rifles for the purpose of greater combat efficacy. Flash hiders do conceal shooters so that return fire isn’t a simple matter of looking for a soldier’s literal rifle muzzle. Only after decades of holdover in designs and doctrine, has the Army’s planned M4 replacement, the MCX Spear, done away with the bayonet.
But are these, or bans on magazines which hold 30 rounds instead of 10 (meaning nothing to a spree killer, like the Virginia Tech shooter who used restricted magazines), or ‘barrel shrouds’ really something that confers safety?
Of course not.
That the Assault Weapons Ban did zilch is known even to the New York Times.
That’s not the point. The point is transparently to disarm, bit by bit, the great majority of gun owning Americans—people whose stock of guns is huge, yet whose criminality is materially lower than several European countries. To what end? Who knows — maybe Klaus Schwab, Yuval Harari, and George Soros want to blender you into Soylent. Maybe the US wants to become like Anglo-Japan. It’s hard to say. What’s not hard to say is that we already know it wouldn’t work.
The laws of the country don’t even allow for the stated objectives of gun control:
This is just flatly impossible, even pre-Heller, pre-Caetano. We are post-Heller. No one is going to pack the Supreme Court. Once again, we have political LARPs.
Everyone involved knows this, but no one will stop being hysterical about it. The fundraising you can do after a tragedy is just too good to pass up, you get to call the other side evil baby killers, and who doesn’t like to get to do that in politics? If there’s anything to notice about the general tendency on the left about this, it’s that they share the same “we gotta DO SOMETHING!” fixation that foments in the impotent rage of (occasional) mass shooters on the right—they do stuff. It doesn’t help. They’re trying to fix problems by any means other than what would work.
All that’s left in this paradigm is trying to route around the Constitution, which, torn and tattered as it is, we could at least try to pretend still matters, to ban things materially valuable as self-defense tools and recreational equipment, while doing squat about progressives’ Sacred Cows, who sometimes kill people.
Where does this leave us? Sometime next month, a shooting happens. The shooter is an angry young man who may have tendencies that could be described as ‘right-wing’—in any case he used the Toyota Corolla-tier AR-15 rifle millions of other Americans own without ever harming anyone. The shooting happens during a month where a dozen or so largely black criminals with guns they didn’t legally possess kill several scores more people in America’s cities.
An audience of pretend-exasperated white people who don’t give any thought to how many brown kids they’ve endorsed the mass murder of because they were foreign make some angry noises, especially ones about how very much they care about blacks being killed by ‘guns’, ignoring that it’s black people doing that. A chorus of white suburbanite pretend-guerillas whose glacially impacted deep visceral fat means they crush their organs when bending over just to tier their shoes then all waggle their overly accessorized rifles in a petulant response.
There may be interesting developments at the Supreme Court — whose Justices routinely get death threats from the left, most recently nearly carried out against Justice Kavanaugh — we might get some amusing debate performances out of whoever is running in 2024, but they will fail to answer why these events keep happening. The political fight is a fake one, where almost no one on the side of restrictions is motivated in any way by actual facts, and plenty are motivated, more or less by tribal contempt for “MAGA Chuds” and their penis substitutes.
Take a look at these charts from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the CDC, and this pharmaceutical market research/consulting/outsourcing? company which is publicly traded and that I’d never heard of before:
I would then like to direct your attention to these graphs:
And then, the pièce de résistance:
Now, I don’t think Stanford’s data and definitions are hugely better than Mother Jones’s or whatever, but directionally it’s clear that something really weird is happening in the US. It’s important to bear in mind that firearms technology has hardly changed since the early 1900s. Some of the very same guns being sold then are still popular now. While ownership of M16-pattern rifles has increased, the actual ease of access to firearms to the general populace in the United States has significantly decreased with regulations passed every decade. The sort of firepower once available for direct to door shipping is hard to imagine today.
(Recall our earlier glimpse of the charmingly absurd degree to which White America arms itself, and how it largely only ever commits suicide, not homicide)
There are some other wrinkles which are germane. First, there are countries with far worse security situations and regularized homicides including by guns, which do not suffer American style spree killings, especially not in schools.
By almost all measures, Brazil and Mexico are third-world horror shows where drug cartels and street gangs regularly get in shootouts with the authorities, and routinely kill and dismember rival gang members, journalists, and police. They are terrible places to live where thousands have been killed in an on-going drug war whose intensity has in the past threatened the stability of the governments, and likely corrupts them even now. Brazil and Mexico, despite being flooded with guns, despite having lots of violence, don’t seem to have a spate of young men shooting up their schools. Weird, huh?
Secondly, many countries liberals wouldn’t think have guns, have guns, and in fact may have more broad legal access to firearms than do many Americans. Consider France. You can own all kinds of guns in France so long as you pass examinations and store them safely. You can own AK & AR style rifles in Paris, but you can’t in New York City. European gun laws are only more liberal in countries like Switzerland or the Czech Republic, hardly known for violence. Italian gun ownership is almost Texan. Consider America’s great urbanization:
Los Angeles County, CA; Cook County, IL; San Diego County, CA; Orange County, CA; Kings County, NY; Queens County, NY; Riverside County, CA; San Bernardino County, CA; Santa Clara County, CA—i.e.New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.
In the metro area exurbs and suburbs of these most populous places, the Americans who live there (which probably includes some of you reading this), live with laws allowing materially less ownership of guns than in Paris, France.
So what gives?
If Brazil and Mexico are these favela-riddled shit-holes whose national pastimes are murder, yet they don’t have massacres in their schools, and France and Italy, whose menfolk are almost metrosexual as a rule also, or more often, let people own semi-automatic AK-47s and M4s and they don’t have massacres…
Maybe it’s corny to say it, but at some risk of sounding like a 90s ABC after school special, the issue is probably the morass of American culture, of our reigning Liberalism. Other countries have secularized, but they don’t seem to have developed quite the same bottoming-out the US has. Coming Apart is not a book you can write about Sweden. The level of disregard we have for one another is the most entertaining show on earth for the rest of the planet.
The US is massively drug addicted, with medical officialdom’s “prescription” regime excusing it, has a contradictory culture of individual resilience and public indifference coupled with ever more fraught economic and social competition for obtaining the basics of a decent life. It has almost wholly eliminated normal paths for individuals to rely on pro-social furnishing of resources and means they can’t produce themselves or find within family, and the media environment around all of this essentially a choice between zero acknowledgment of elite caprice and mismanagement or a non-stop flaming of the core institutions of the country—which are actually neglected or ‘politicized’.
Default Friend, in Pedro Gonzalez’s Contra writes:
In the decade between Sandy Hook and the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas—which left 22 dead, including the shooter—we seem to have learned nothing. We are as mystified today as we were then. That is why, sadly, more Uvaldes are likely to come unless we learn to reckon with reality and think beyond trite talking points.
The real reason for our mass shootings—hear me out—is that we have a nihilism problem….The perpetrators of mass shootings are simply the most visible and violent emblems and exponents of our nihilism. Not always, but often, they are the ones who cannot see the value of civilization or society or even life itself. They are suffocating under the weight of what they view as the purposelessness of it all.
It’s in the commingling of our leisure and anesthesia—we drink to escape, we exercise until we can’t feel anything, we propel ourselves into fantasy lives with fandom. It’s even, paradoxically, in our insistence on living “in the moment.” Nothing matters, so we may as well be happy with where we are. The darker side of “YOLO” is how it forecloses on the possibility that our lives matter in any grander sense, that we can be a part of a tradition that started long before we were born and will extend for ages after we die.
We had morphed from a universe of moral absolutes to broad social and communal forces to an all-consuming solipsism—a terrifying oneness, a “culture of narcissism,” as Christopher Lasch put it, where the self is central.
The debate over more guns or fewer guns completely misses the horrifying heart of the matter: the world built by modern liberalism, which took for its telos the maximization of individual autonomy, and thus guaranteed total alienation, breeds the nihilism behind these shootings.
Read again, the story of Tyrelle D. Shaw that I linked earlier, and recall what you know of Adam Lanza or Elliot Rodger:
If he had a gun, he would have been a mass shooter. That doesn’t imply regulation on guns. We could stop all legal manufacturing of guns tomorrow, but we keep turning out millions like Tyrell, and Adam, and Elliot.
Steve Coast observed years ago that the world is getting weirder and will only get more so; when you figure out all of the obvious ways that a jetliner crashes, and you checklist and quality control all of them out of existence, what you’re left with are the catastrophic long-tail events that no one thinks of like a pilot just being depressed enough to fly his plane and everyone on it into a mountain.
I’d guess that mass shootings are a little bit like that. Columbine and the phenomenon of “going postal” erupted during the pinnacle golden years of the great long Pax Americana won by a Greatest Generation which did way more shooting at much higher personal cost. We’ve ‘solved’ so many problems of meaning and made so much in life so cheap and so disposable, that it’s a wonder we don’t have even more mass shootings. We’re only halfway through the year.