In 1968, LBJ’s National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence claimed in its report that “half of the nation’s 60 million households possess at least one gun, and the number of guns owned by private citizens is rising rapidly.”
The Gun Control Act of 1968, a supposed response to the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK by, respectively, a Communist, a ‘Palestinian’ terrorist and a white racist, failed to head off a decade of leftist political violence during the 1970s.
Next year, in 1969, black nationalists took over a high school and college campus in Greensboro, North Carolina and opened fire on police officers and the National Guard in what became an extensive armed siege and the largest battle fought on a U.S. college campus.
Gun control was already working wonders.
By 1972, an estimated 43% of American households owned firearms. The only two mass shootings that year were by an angry unemployed security guard and Mark Essex
Essex, a black nationalist terrorist, opened fire on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans killing, among others, a honeymooning couple. Betty Steagall was shot in the back of her head while embracing her murdered husband. Essex left a Black Liberation flag lying near the corpses of the doctor and his wife. Black nationalists and leftists still view him as a hero.
Today, 45% of American households own a gun. The number of mass shootings is far greater than was the case in the 1960s and 1970s. Not only have the various gun control measures failed to stop shootings, the overall number of shootings and the otherwise unusual phenomenon of individual mass shootings have increased to a staggering degree.
The issue is not, as Democrats, leftists and their media insist, “gun culture”. America had far more of a gun culture in the 1950s than it does today. A visceral hatred of gun ownership pervades the entertainment industry even as it glorifies all sorts of physical violence. Cultural elites decry the existence of firearms as a senseless evil and dream of a world without them.
And thus far there’s been a record number of mass shootings in 2023.
The perpetrators of these mass shootings are often politically inconvenient. Even beyond the urban minority gangs responsible for the vast majority of shooting deaths so far this year there have been transgender mass shooters like Audrey Hale, illegal alien mass shooters like Francisco Oropeza, and black mass shooters like Anthony Dwayne McRae, who opened fire at Michigan State University in a story that would have otherwise dominated the headlines.
Media coverage of mass shootings instantly seizes on the similarity of the weapon to an AR-15 before cutting to an interview with one of a legion of gun control advocates demanding that the government do what it had been trying to do since the 1930s with no success whatsoever.
But why should a mere century of failure discredit a leftist policy when socialism is still a fad?
Conservative religious people offer thoughts and prayers in the wake of a shooting because they understand that life is not just a set of policies but a spiritual struggle. The secular frame tends to dumb this down to policy points like “mental illness”, but call it what you will, there is no denying the reality that people don’t kill because guns exist, guns exist because people kill.
A mass shooting doesn’t begin in a gun store, but inside the heart, the mind and the soul.
Mass shootings became much more frequent because our culture lost the moral guardrails that defined acceptable and unacceptable forms of violence. Unsocialized teenage boys, angry loners with a grudge against everyone, crazies, racists and radicals going down their very own online rabbit holes stopped being an aberration a long time ago: they’re becoming the norm.
America’s violence is not a matter of ‘gun culture’, but of a broken society whose symptoms, suicides, overdoses, random crime, political extremism, despair, and free-floating rage, are all around us. Short tempers lead to confrontations and then violence in a society where many people mistrust others and view them as a threat. Some of this is lubricated by the bigotry incubated by the Left in the form of critical race theory and wokeness, but others are a secondary effect of a society where people no longer have any confidence in the future, and no faith in much of anything, including country, religion, family or even human decency.
‘Thoughts and prayers’ address these root causes far better than gun control. The Democrat solution of blaming inanimate objects and the Republican solution of blaming mental illness are both shortsighted. The latter leads to battles over ‘red flag laws’ and more of the medical interventions whose drug protocols in some cases seem to trigger outbursts of violence.
There are people with genuine mental problems that require medical treatment, but millions of people are being treated with medications for conditions that essentially boil down to generalized unhappiness, a lack of fulfillment, a seeming inability to enjoy life and no sense of purpose. These are not individual medical problems, they’re the ills of a society that has lost its reason to exist and invents new forms of madness, like the transgender craze, to compensate.
Call it a spiritual problem, a crisis of purpose, a national ennui, but from whatever angle, religious or secular, national or cultural, familial and interpersonal, policy is not an answer.
Conventional law enforcement is a useful tool against terrorists and gangs, against repeat criminal offenders, but is largely useless against a man with no criminal record who decides to open fire in a mall or ram his car through a public street. Passing more laws does little good against someone who is willing to end his life and those of others in a bloody ruin. Walk into a federal government building and you will see signs warning potential offenders that killing federal employees will lead to a stiff sentence. City buses have signs cautioning about the heightened penalties for attacking bus drivers. Does any of this actually work?
After Deion Patterson shot up an Atlanta hospital facility, killing one woman and wounding four others, a federal bill is pending to boost penalties for those who attack medical staffers.
Will that stop the next Deion Patterson?
‘Thoughts and prayers’ appear impotent to progressives, but their preferred policies, passing pointless laws, are more so. They’re also ‘thoughts and prayers’, not directed to any higher power above this world, but to the governments in whose power they place their absolute trust.
55 years after LBJ’s gun control commission argued that, “the heart of any effective national firearms policy for the United States must be to reduce the availability of the firearm that contributes the most to violence”, these efforts have failed to achieve anything, not because of the NRA or “gun culture”, but because the issue is people, not the tools that they use.
The Democrat obsession with tools was typical of a materialistic party already losing its religion and incapable of grappling with the deeper crisis of the national soul. Republicans struggle to articulate their conviction that gun violence is an internal, not an external crisis, but as the party loses its moral sensibilities, it becomes unable to speak in moral terms and it has never been particularly good at speaking in policy terms. And so the same repetitive drama plays out.
As a society, we could do with more ‘thoughts and prayers’, not just after a school, a mall or a bus station is shot up, but on a constant daily basis. Moral people, religious or secular, take stock of themselves, question their behavior and seek to become better than they are today. They don’t melt into puddles of selfish self-pity, nurture endless grudges, become convinced that everyone is out to get them, dehumanize those around them or fantasize about damaging the world so hard that it finally notices that they exist. These are moral skills of humility that parents, teachers, religious and political leaders cultivate in the members of a healthy society.
The average mass shooter and, for that matter, career criminal, lacks any of them and is infested with the self-pity, resentment, hatred and grandiosity that he bloodily acts out.
Unlike an armed gun owner or police officer in the right time and place, gun control won’t save any lives, but what is especially misguided about gun control is that its proponents misrepresent it as a solution to ‘root causes’ when it mistakes an object for a root cause of human behavior.
No government policy is a substitute for a functioning society. In pursuit of its paradise, the Left has smashed our society and continues to hammer away at it every day. And then it occasionally looks up from the carnage to notice the mass shootings, the overdoses, the suicides, the battles in the streets and blames the destruction on its political opponents.
‘Thoughts and prayers’ are a way back to a healthier society. They are the road to a reckoning and a return to healthy families and communities, to an individual sense of purpose and to the conviction, once so common among Americans, that the world is not a meaningless place.
No past decade or a century was free of crime and violence, but we had the tools to resist it and to overcome it. Those tools are mostly gone. All we have is a bipartisan police state and an extended argument over where to direct it and whom to criminalize to fix our crises.
‘Thoughts and prayers’ are humbling. They remind us of our limitations and our strengths. They tell us what political extremists resist, but that great men and women have always understood, which is that our greatest power to change others comes from changing ourselves.
Gun control doesn’t work. Self-control does. And it begins with thoughts and prayers.
About 99% of households had guns from the Pilgrims through the Civil war. Absent fathers = 90% of mass shootings. I blame leftist policies.
Mic Lawler says
Yes and true prayer puts on in touch with the One True God. Not only does that humble and refine one’s character but God Himself hears and answers prayer
>>God Himself hears and answers prayer
Like he did at the Carmelite Nunnery at Auschwitz? Do you KNOW what went on in there during the Holocaust?
Gary Hope says
Bullshit. Dream on. Mass shootings are a mental illness and insanity problem. They’re a left wing fruitcake problem.
I told myself I’d start observing Shabbat, but with no more skin in the game, I changed my mind. So…
Broken and dysfunctional families–more than 90% of which have no male authority figure present–are not merely correlated with psychological illness, they are causative.
Algorithmic Analyst says
Thanks Daniel! The spiritual is an essential part of the curious outside/inside world duality. Good to see an article defending the spiritual.
I worked out over 40 years a mathematical theory showing stop and frisk in crime ridden inner cities is the first and most effective police tactic needed. Curiously theory and practice seem to agree, as the police often say stop and frisk is effective.
I hate being stopped and frisked so I do understand that side of the argument 🙂
Strangely, I don’t know yet of anyone who understands the math theory, despite my 40 years of pontificating.
Jason P says
Dems like more laws but not more law enforcement. During 20 years of Republican rule in NYC gun violence dropped 75% as stop-and-frisk got the guns and criminals off the street. As we point out, without law enforcement only the innocent will voluntarily get rid of their guns.
The media ads to our problem today. It adds gun-violence porn in every news cast. Every attack is exploited for political purposes to invoke exaggerated fear that this could happen to you or your child tomorrow. Mass shooting are about 1% of shooting. But the urgency to do something about the 1% even as NYC history provides a proven policy of reducing most of that 99% while the proposed policies to reduce the 1% are a pipe dream.
THX 1138 says
Thoughts and prayers? But what kinds of thoughts and what kinds of prayers? There are rational thoughts and prayers and irrational thoughts and prayers.
A prayer is a wish, a desire, but what are you wishing for, what are you desiring, what are your wishful thoughts seeking? Rational values consonant with the facts of reality or are you praying for destruction and nihilism.
There are people who pray to Allah or the devil for evil things to come true. There are religious nihilists and there are secular nihilists. Although religion is fundamentally based in unreason there are more rational, benign, forms of unreason, and there are secular forms of abject, nihilist, irrationality. Secularism is not synonymous with rationality just as religion is not necessarily synonymous with complete and abject unreason, a complete break with reality.
When religious or secular men abandon reason and reality altogether that’s when you get helplessness, hopelessness, nihilism, pessimism, cynicism, self-pity, you get a culture of hatred and futility, seeking a messiah like Mohammed or Hitler to rule over them and tell them what to do….
THX 1138 says
Meaning, purpose, progress, pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, benevolence, personal happiness, personal achievement, and liberty all depend on a rational mind thinking rationally about reality and accepting the facts of reality.
By the grace of reality and reason values are possible to man, that’s a fact of reality.
Crazy and destructive people, religious or secular, are out of touch with reality, or reject reason and reality altogether. The more in touch with reality you are, in other words the more rational you are, the more sane and healthy you will be.
How would you know? You haven’t been in touch with reality for a very long time.
THX 1139 says
It’s okay I was trying to justify my Randian theory but you have me beaten Daniel.
You could never justify Randian anything as it is not a legitimate philosophy
You are absolutely correct.
Lets have a culture, instead, of autocratic “rational selfishness”, with Ayn Rand and Lenny peikaboo as our twin messiahs, with you ruling over us, lecturing us, hectoring us, and telling us how to think and what to do.
What a wonderful world this could be 🎶🎶 (apologies to Sam Cooke)
Algorithmic Analyst says
“Don’t know much about history,
Don’t know much Trigonometry …”
Great song. It was featured in the film Witness, but you probably knew that 🙂
A prayer is not a “wish” ??? Prayer is worship / connecting with the one true GOD -The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. If Americans would again embrace our Judeo/Christian roots a lot of this insanity would not be happening.
J.J. Sefton says
What started in the late 50’s and brought us to where we are as a nation today?
The counterculture, the sexual revolution, feminism, and all that went with it that destroyed the family, morality, ethics and sanity itself.
I.E. – Marxism. Destroy God and family and you get what we have today.
Materialism accounts for much of that. The 60’s “counterculture” was mindless, fantasy “mother nature earth” worship. As a Christian, I believe that from here on out, Christianity will be the next and final counterculture – as promised almost 2000 year ago.
Steven Brizel says
A society where people have no respect for life’ either at the beginning or end of human life will raise children snd adults who have no respect for life when they are confronted with difficulties in their own lives
Jason P says
As you note, gun violence is but the tip of the iceberg of a general malady … call it spiritual, psychological, emotion, character degradation, or whatever … it is a cultural disintegration. Notice the rise of bullying in schools as anti-bullying policies increase. Suicide rates in teens, especially girls, are increasing as efforts to focus on and help girls increase.
I’ll single out “social and emotional learning” as a typical school policy that heightens self-pity, hysteria over imagined grievances, and special privileges on “protected groups” that has all the failed subjectivist, envy, and self-loathing that is rotting the core of our culture. As a consequence, contempt for authority and acting out is the flip side of self-hatred. Schools are festering an emotional time-bomb.
Just like the emergence of a spectrum of gender with infinite points between male and female identity – like the shades of color on a painter’s palette -there has also emerged a spectrum of morality:
Its end points are divine morality and secular morality with everything empathetic, apathetic, sympathetic, pathetic and antipathetic in between.
THX 1139 says
Secular morality has been slow to emerge in practice.
THX 1138 says
Objectivism is secular but the crucial issue for man is not secular morality versus religious morality but IRRATIONAL morality versus a RATIONAL morality derived from the facts of reality — the reality of man’s rational nature and the reality of the requirements for his survival and flourishing on earth as a mortal, thinking, biological being. A mortal creature who is an indivisible combination of body and mind, matter and consciousness.
The crucial end points of morality are pro-self versus anti-self or in other words is man an end in himself or the means for the ends of other(s)?
“In essence, there are two opposite approaches to morality: the pro-self approach versus the anti-self approach, or the ethics of egoism versus the ethics of self-sacrifice.
Egoists hold that a man’s primary moral obligation is to achieve his own welfare (egoists do not necessarily agree on the nature of man’s welfare). Advocates of self-sacrifice hold that a man’s primary obligation is to serve some entity outside of himself. The first school holds that virtue consists of actions that benefit a man, which brings him a personal reward, a profit, a gain of some kind. The second school holds that the essence of virtue is unrewarded duty, the renunciation of gain, self-denial. The first esteems the self and advocates selfishness, maintaining that each man should be the beneficiary of his own actions. The second regards selfishness in any form as evil.” – Leonard Peikoff
What an incredible load of word salad + Peekaboo spam. Objectivism is irrational, no matter how much spam you throw on the wall.
I guess we won’t be seeing any self sacrifice from you anytime soon, huh?
Bottom line, you are simply an incredibly selfish person. Not something any clear thinking person would want to be.
It appears that THX 1138 has no belief in the concept of spirit. To pray is to reach-out to God in spirit, in thanks, petition or even grief. Jesus said it this way:
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.
There is a spiritual struggle at the the personal level, whether selfish or not. Prayer can touch the un-touchable.
Secular morality has always been around. It floats. Its definition of what’s morally right or wrong may vary, because, at the center of man’s secular morality, is man. It is corruptible because people can be corrupted.
Corrupt politicians make corrupt laws and corrupted people willingly embrace those laws from generation to generation. It is the foundational principles of divine law (i.e. the Noahide laws and the Ten Commandments) that has yet to make its way truly into the heart of civilization.
Algorithmic Analyst says
There was some research decades ago (maybe from Prisoner’s Dilemma) that showed that secular morality provides opportunity and rewards for betrayal at the end of the game.
Kynarion Hellenis says
That is fascinating.
Spurwing Plover says
Blaming Gun Owners Gun Stores and the Gun Lobby is just typical of liberal idiots espcialy with the M.S. Media and the Hollywood crowd of Nit-Wits always looking for Scapegoats to blame.
Great article. Thank you.
A few points. I see the mass shooters as embodying the left. They are a sort of a behavioral spike in “left-ness.” And that is why “white supremacist” is shouted by media every time anything happens. I think the lefties in charge know this too. If they shout “white supremacy” maybe we wont notice the root cause. And they are the root cause.
And another point. Psychiatric medications are not designed to treat mass shooting or violence or isolation or fatherlessness. There is no chemical medication for that.
It is a correlation that some who later commit violence brought their sorrow to a doctor who used the only tools he had. Its not the psychiatric medicine (just another tool) at fault but the person whose life is empty of goodness and so becomes a monster.
I agree that spiritual support, a sane society, a loving family is the medicine.
And that medicine needs to be delivered daily from birth. People do need prayer and a culture that has it as its foundation.
John Clark says
The vast majority of killings are done by younger men. Research by the National Father Initiative indicates that there is a direct correlation between this and 1 out of 4 young men growing up with no biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.
Spurwing Plover says
They replace the truth with false unproven ideas like Evolution and Climate Change