Guns Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns don’t kill people; crazy people kill people. Guns don’t kill people; transsexual leftist illegal aliens kill people. Guns don’t kill people; not enough guns kill people. Guns don’t kill people; too many doors kill people.

Or maybe try this one for a while: The only thing that stops a crazy guy with a gun is a less crazy guy with a gun.

“We need to drastically change our approach to mental health. There are always so many warning signs. Almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile,” said Trump to the NRA throng shortly after the Uvaldo murders. “And clearly we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,” he added.

Yeah, that’s the ticket; crazy people without guns on the inside, sane people with 400 million guns on the outside.

So, what is that commonly shared profile of the disfigured mind? What are some of the many warning signs? How about starting with this: It’s a male (98%). It’s a young male (66% of school shooters are less than 18 years old). With that knowledge, if you’re trying to spot likely school shooters, you can pretty much eliminate females and men with grey hair. That leaves just about all males below the age of about 22 as potential mass-murderers. But it still presents a large search base; what if you added this to the profile: It’s a male who has acquired, or is attempting to acquire an assault weapon. Wouldn’t that shrink the threat pool appreciably? And if you wished to widen the scope to include mass-murder threats to the community at large, you could simply expand the age range to include the grey hairs (Stephan Paddock was 64).

To borrow from an old political slogan, “It’s the guns, stupid!” What bigger or more meaningful warning sign could there be? Assault weapons are designed to assault (kill) a large number of human beings in a short amount of time. What’s the likely mind-set of a person (regardless of age) who is fascinated with that potential? Are they healthy and well adjusted? If you purchase a car (like a BMW M8) that can travel 150 mph, you are surely fascinated with the prospect of traveling at unlawful speeds. If you purchase a gun that can kill 58 people in 10 minutes, you are surely fascinated with the prospect of having the power to kill a lot of people in a very short time. Doesn’t the mere desire to possess such a weapon already indicate that you probably shouldn’t have one? Could there be a clearer warning sign that a “disfigured mind” is on the prowl?

“Harden the schools,” seems to be this episode’s NRA backed deflectional talking point. On cue, Texas Senator Ted Cruz suggested eliminating all school doors except one, replacing all window panes with bullet proof glass, and installing metal detectors with armed surveillance at each school’s one remaining door. So, picture it, every academic school, high school, junior high school, middle school, elementary school, and pre-school in the U.S. overhauled and hardened accordingly. Now picture a thousand high school kids lined up every morning (rain or shine) with belts, coins, phones, etc. removed (like at the airport) waiting patiently to enter the one and only door to pass through a metal detector. Can you also picture that “disfigured mind” inside his car in the school parking lot, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, viewing that line? Or, can you imagine all the students now inside, and a gunman (or more than one) breeching security at the only door and then barricading (and perhaps guarding) it from the inside? How many lives could be taken while the local police force desperately seeks entrance through bullet proof glass and that one barricaded door? Just a few? More than a few? Does it even matter how many?

How about football, baseball, soccer games, etc.? Will they now take place inside the safely hardened schools? And will our schools just be first in line for the great hardening? Will other institutions be incrementally added as we play whack-a-mole with the “disfigured minds” that are just sane enough to seek out the weak spots?

It’s such a crazy, stupid, and idiotic proposal for even Ted Cruz to make. How can he, the NRA, or rational congress members make it with a straight face – millions or billions of dollars spent to futilely “harden” schools rather than addressing the real issue? “It’s the guns, stupid!” It’s the endless proliferation of assault weapons and handguns. Addressing anything other than that is pretense of action, and it doesn’t matter how many prayers or moments of silence are offered up with it.

“Confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,” the former president suggested. Perhaps we already have. Perhaps we are in it! Doesn’t our country now resemble a mental institution – one whose inmates have taken over the asylum? Loosen the laws; harden the schools; put more guns on the street; lock up the crazy people. Do the Trump’s, the Abbot’s, or the Cruz’s sound like our healthy therapists, or do they sound like us, the deranged inmates? We are there, on the inside with them. Aren’t we now living-out that famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? After every shooting we’re shocked and demoralized, offering up and accepting the same platitudes while fervently demanding change. Then we elect another Cruz, or another Abbot, or another Greene, or another whoever with the same affiliations, the same ties to the arms community. Nothing will change until we stop doing the same thing over and over again.

He’s taken a lot of flak. Pete Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvaldo School District has received a lot of scrutiny and a lot of blame for decisions made as the Uvaldo School shooting unfolded. In retrospect, it seems clear that his judgment was questionable. It seems clear that he didn’t follow current advised protocol. Here’s the thing, though: Arredondo was acting in real time as events unfolded. He may have responded poorly, but he didn’t know ahead of time the repercussions of his response. Governor Abbot, on the other hand, knew what the repercussions would be when he championed and signed into law the many bills that either eased or eliminated gun restrictions in Texas. He knew in advance that his actions would result in more gun related deaths for children and adults. He knew that blood and brain tissue would be splattered on school floors and neighborhood sidewalks. It was a conscious and deliberate decision; more deaths in schools and on the streets were deemed a tolerable trade-off to maintain political power. Unlike Pete Arredondo, Governor Abbot knew exactly what the repercussions would be, and he did it anyway. And here’s the other thing: we voted for Governor Abbot and others like him. We knew exactly what the repercussions would be, and we did anyway. We’ve done it over and over again, all across the nation.

Is the one who pulls the trigger crazier, guiltier, or more murderous than one who knowingly puts the gun in his hands? When our former president says that the shooter “will be eternally damned to burn in the fires of Hell,” will he and all of us who knowingly put the gun in a shooter’s hands be damned to burn in Hell with him? Does Hell have that much room?

It’s not just the mentally deranged shooters, and it’s not just the mentally deranged politicians, and it’s not just the mentally deranged arms merchants. It’s also us, the mentally deranged public. We’re all guilty because we make it happen. It couldn’t happen without the consent of us, the wishfully sane people. We like our guns and the feeling they give us. We’ve bought into the hype that the purveyors put out and we won’t let it go. We like the feeling of power, the feeling of safety, the feeling of purpose that our guns provide. We like that feeling so much that we’re willing to allow the death and mutilation of our neighbor’s children just to feel it again. It’s us; we are the murderers, over and over again. We have met the murderers and they are us.

Nothing meaningful will change, until we change meaningfully.

Vern Loomis lives in the Detroit area and occasionally likes to comment on news and events that interest him in whatever capacity available. Besides Dissident Voice, his other musings can be found at Transcend Media Service, ZNetwork, CounterPunch, The Humanist, and The Apathetic Agnostic. Read other articles by Vern.