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Reflections on Mass Shootings in America
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2016-06-14 10:05:29
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“Yes, people pull the trigger - but guns are the instrument of death.
Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror”
                --Eliot Spitzer

The latest and most grievous mass shooting in America has just occurred in Orlando, Florida, less than 200 hundred miles from where I live, a bit too close for comfort, as the saying goes. But that is not what prompts me to put pen on paper. It’s that it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around this recurring event in American life. I mean mass shootings. As they jump to mind one can enumerate the Oklahoma mass bombing (perhaps the most grievous, together with  the Newton shooting, since so many children were involved, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Virginia Tech shooting, periodic High School shootings which since 1980 have claimed 302 victims), the Aurora Theater mass shooting, the San Bernardino shooting, etc. etc.   

This time around, fifty people are dead, and some fifty wounded in hospital. We have heard from the president of the country, the governor of the state, the senators, the congressmen, the press, the politicians, the pope, ISIS and other ideological radicals who are claiming credit in the name of religion and faith. We have heard it from Donald Trump who has taken advantage of the event to revive his racist anti-Muslims tirades. To his mind, it is the vicious Islamic theology which produces the likes of Omar Mateen who then goes into a gay club and kills 50 people. The fact that he was homophobic is a pure accident.

There is no shortage of pundits offering their precious advice to whomever will listen. But in fact we have heard it all before. Or have we? What remains strangely silent is the discussion or debate on gun regulations. Even the press will no longer touch the subject. They know what the NRA’s routine response will be: “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” or “the second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.” They don’t seem to be able to muster enough intellectual energy to respond to those outrageously idiotic statements.

The only politician who here in the US has courageously and correctly identified the real culprit for the Orlando massacre is Senator Bernie Sanders. The real culprit, he said, is the nation’s negligence in regulating guns and especially assault weapons who have only offensive and no defensive purpose as the NRA misguidedly proclaims. Just for that he deserves to be nominated for president. The republican governor of Florida Rick Scott, on the other hand has piously recommended more prayers for those who commit hate crimes. It’s those kind of recommendations that give a bad reputation to religion. And so it goes.


I have been chewing of all this. It occurs to me that when one reviews the above mentioned massacres they all have something in common. Most of them have been committed by American citizens, that is to say, people either born in America or naturalized as US citizens. One begins to wonder about the penchant to throw the blame on ideological or religious (more properly named cultish) fanatics thus reducing the whole issue to one of xenophobia. I suppose Jung would call that psychological phenomenon projection: one projects unto others one’s own faults.


Without beating the issue to death, let me end with one final reflection and it is this: the US is the only country in the world where the primary means of suicide is guns. Some 20,000 Americans kill themselves with guns every year. Moreover, the states with the weakest gun-control laws have substantially higher suicide rates than those with the strongest laws. The conclusion from those statistics should be obvious to anybody, even those of sub-average intelligence: someone who has to look for a gun has more time to think better of using it. On the other hand, one who has a gun readily available in a moment of passion (be it romantic or political) does not have the time to think better of his reaction. That explains while in England there are only 90 homicides per year while in the US there are 50,000. Adjusting for the two countries’ population that is a ratio of aproximately 100 to 1. But it appears that the IRA is unable to grasp those statistics and rationally arrive at a proper conclusion. It is more simple, or perhaps simple-minded is the better expression, to keep repeating the bizarre mantras of “guns are innocent” and “we need guns to defend ourselves.” Indeed, we all need assault weapons like a hole in our head.


But there is a final ominous thought to be derived from the sundry reflections above and it is this: before an individual commits mass murder he must have already lost the will to live. If we survey the millennial historical record we will soon discover that not only individuals but whole nations and groups of people end up committing suicide after they have lost a will to uphold the vital ideals on which they were founded. A sure sign of a proclivity toward suicide in a nation or political entity is the proliferation and the idolization of weapons of mass destructions of all kinds. It is the equivalent of substituting “In God we Trust” stamped on one’s currency with “In Guns we Trust.”    



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Jack2016-06-15 13:51:01

What a great article.
I concur with every vowel and syllable. We are the cause and solution of any problem, we just need to tap into ourselves with the proper intentions and we may have salvation...

Mirella Ionta2016-06-16 00:32:00
I am wondering if this event even occurred in real-life or if it is the product of a political conspirator's imagination collaborating with the writing skills of a journalist. Have we heard from the victims' families? Don't you think, if this tragedy did indeed take place, that the victims' families and friends would be outraged and would start contacting journalists to, at the very least, express their concerns? And what about the status of the club itself? Is it closed down? Have we heard from the owners of this club? What about the eye witness accounts of surviving club-goers who were present that night? How come we are not hearing from them?

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