Monday, October 7, 2013

Nobody Cares That 12 People Were Murdered In My Neighborhood 3 Weeks Ago

Oh, suck it up, you crybabies - nobody gives a shit about your murdered mom, dad,
brother, sister, or whoever it was. Get over it, already - the rest of us certainly have!

I just figured I should remind everyone out there that, three weeks ago today, 12 people were murdered in my neighborhood over at the Navy Yard.

You've probably forgotten, but a crazy dude who worked as a government security contractor used his security credentials to get into the building and started shooting people. A lot of people. Just a few blocks from my house.

I was in Toronto at the time, so I didn't live through all of the (astoundingly short-lived) insanity that followed. I have been rather shocked, however, at how quickly everyone seems to have forgotten about such a high-profile mass shooting in the nation's capital, less than 2 miles from the Capitol Building.

Have we really become so desensitized to the spectacle of mass shootings that we just don't care anymore? That we expect them to happen?

Perhaps we are - after all, depending on how one counts, the US might experience as many as one mass shooting PER DAY. Obviously, not all of those can make the national news - otherwise, there would be almost no time for anything but mass shootings on the news, and the news simply must make adequate room for celebrity gossip, mindlessly talking heads, and pointless back-and-forth between partisan hacks.

Furthermore, the US is alone in the number of mass shootings it experiences. 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the past 50 years have happened in the United States (although that list was before Navy Yard, so we're almost certainly up to at least 16 of 25); Finland is in second place with 2.

This blog has also been guilty of growing weary of mass shootings - I didn't even bother to write about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, CT, in which 20 children were killed. I was tired about writing about mass killings myself - after all, I blogged about the Tuscon shooting (twice), about the Batman movie massacre, and about the Sikh temple massacre - and I just didn't have it in me to write yet another "I told you so" post about mass shootings in 2012.

If 20 dead kids aren't enough to make the US get serious about decreasing the number of gun deaths, 12 murdered adult federal employees certainly won't move the needle of public or Congressional opinion.

There have been plenty of mass shootings in 2013 to write about, but I haven't written about any of those either. However, since this mass shooting happened just a few blocks away, I figured I'd break out my old explanation of why we will continue to see more and more mass shootings - it's inevitable, and it's just a matter of time.

Mass shootings like this are inevitable in the United States due to the combination of two simple facts:
  • the mental health system in this country sucks. The Navy Yard shooter was obviously seriously disturbed, but for some reason, he didn't get the help he needed - in fact, he even secured employment with a federal security contractor.
  • as a country, we have decided that citizens should have access to practically unlimited quantities of assault weapons and ammunition. We don't even regulate guns as seriously as we regulate toys.
If you combine those two facts, it is not hard to conclude that massacres like the Navy Yard shooting, the Sandy Hook massacre, the Batman Movie Massacre, Tuscon, etc. are inevitable. We are a big country with lots of people, and a tiny fraction of those people are batsh*t crazy. If you give batsh*t crazy people access to assault weapons, this country will occasionally face massacres like this one in the Navy Yard - it's a statistical inevitability. So, unless the U.S. wants to completely change its approach to mental health and/or assault weapons in the hands of citizens, we are just going to have to get used to paying the price of the semi-regular massacre. Since the U.S. is a pretty violent society, I'm guessing that we'll just stick with the status quo and act "shocked, shocked I tell you" when things like this happen, even though a quick statistical analysis demonstrates that massacres like this are inevitable.

The shooting in the Navy Yard, was a definitely a senseless tragedy, but I'm not shocked now, and I'm not going to be shocked when this happens again somewhere else in the U.S. None of these mass shooters are special or unique - I'm sure there are many (hundreds? thousands?) of people alarmingly similar to them out there. As mentioned above, mass shootings are becoming horrifically banal - the U.S. has averaged at least one high-profile mass shooting each year since 2005, while the US might experience as many as one mass shooting PER DAY - it's just that only one per year usually becomes a media sensation.

You heard it here first, folks - more mass shootings are coming. They're a statistical inevitability, unless the U.S. decides that it wants to do something about preventing its citizens from owning semiautomatic assault weapons and about providing effective mental health care to all its citizens. So, to all you future mass murders out there - you're not going to shock and surprise me, as sad as that sounds.

Oh, and we the public don't care about the mass shootings or mass shooting victims either - unless it happens to us or someone we know, of course. So suck it up and shut up, you friends and family of people killed in mass shootings, and you'd sure as hell not suggest that we need to change our approach to either mental health or gun control. That's just playing politics with a tragedy, don't you know? Just ask the Republicans - they'll explain it all to you.

Sigh ... I just hope that neither I nor anyone I know have the rotten luck to be caught in any of your upcoming massacres. What rotten luck that would be.


  1. TV news producers should end their shooting-scene reports with a clip from the campaign ads: "I'm John Boehner and I approve this message."

    1. Joe: Indeed. Or perhaps, along the lines of Sesame Street, "This mass shooting was brought to you by: the legacy of Ronald Reagan, the NRA, and the Republican Party."

      -The Angry Bureaucrat

  2. I'm English and only ever see America through TV lenses. I really enjoy this blog and have done for some time. I was honestly under the impression that all Americans were self serving nutcases, though I knew that couldn't be the case. I think your gun problem is less about the weapons and more about the standard of life. Guns are practically non-existent here, We've had 1 mass shooting that I can remember in my lifetime, and that was in Scotland, But we also suffer from mental health issues and the struggle to properly diagnose and protect these sick people (sick in the literal sense, not crazy). There are plenty of European countries with similarly loose gun laws, and it doesn't happen there? My question is why? or rather why not? The answer I'm pushed towards is that U.S have become obsessed with consumption and it's eroding moral fibre. That's my view from the outside looking in.

    1. IVIIX: My problem with your theory is that it is extremely difficult to trace causality from "consumption and it's eroding moral fibre" to mass shootings, while I think it's very easy to trace causality from poor mental health treatment and lots of guns to mass shootings.

      Having spent a good amount of time in Europe, I'm not sure Europeans engage in much less consumerism in America - for example, Europeans likely spend substantially more time window-shopping than Americans do.

      In the European countries with "similarly loose gun laws:"
      1. I doubt that they're "similarly loose" - are there any European countries where private citizens are allowed to own .50 caliber automatic weapons, as is allowed in the US?
      2. I'm sure those countries have much better mental heath systems than in the US.

      I don't mean to overly criticize your theory, I just don't see the causality of consumerism and morals nearly as strongly as I do mental heath care and loads of guns.

      -The Angry Bureaucrat

    2. LOL, Europe doesn't have gun laws anywhere *nearly* as loose as the US of fucking A.

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