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The American Mind

No one single cause

William Hillman

(7/2016) We continue to mourn the victims in Orlando. What a horrible tragedy and my prayers go out to the families, friends, and community. No one should go through that.

Almost as quick as the horrors happened, my social media was filled with posts blaming the event on our gun laws (we either have too many guns or not enough guns, your choice). Also blamed were Muslims, immigration, the FBI, and the President. When tragedies like this happen, there is no simple singular narrative, like the media would like you to believe. There is no one single cause. Itís a recipe that includes mental illness, violent tendencies, economic despair, a dash of outside radical influence, and access to the means to do it. Guns are the last ingredients, and if all the other elements have come together, the gun can be easily substituted with something else.

There was a ban on assault style weapons from 1994 to 2004. The rate of mass shootings started to spike in 1998, four years after the ban.

When someone wants to kill, they can always find a way, be it box-cutters, pressure cookers, or other IEDs. Iím reminded of an old Irishman I knew who once told me that in Northern Ireland, they did not have assault weapons, and guns were hard to get, so they didnít do a lot of shooting, they just blew up cars and buildings.

Banning guns will not solve premeditated terrorist attacks. September 11th, the Boston bombing, Timothy McVeigh, Paris, and almost all the large terrorist attacks did not happen with guns. Guns are just one of many weapons they have.

Our current defense against these terrorist attacks is to put up roadblocks where ever whenever we can. Metal detectors at all the sporting events, old ladies taking off their shoes at airports, babies being frisked for explosives. This gambit just serves to push the terrorists and mass murderers to other venues. The terrorists just keep prodding and poking until they find a weak point and then they exploit it.

The terrorist plots that have ever been foiled were foiled by intelligence. The only hope to stop a mass killing attack is to spoil it well before the attack happens. This is tough to do when citizens are protected by the fourth amendment. If we really want to put an end to these mass shootings and we are willing to give up rights, maybe we should look at changing the fourth amendment? If the FBI had suspicions about Omar Mateen, then why were they not listening to his phone conversations, reading his emails and placing listening devices in his house? Maybe we should make it easy for the government to listen to anyoneís phone conversations. Facial recognition cameras on every corner, tracking chips on everyone, (just like they do to dogs).

We could almost eliminate all crime if you we know that every email we sent, web page we visited, phone call, and conversation was monitored by the State. We can turn our country into a safe, well-heeled dystopian society. I am sorry but if that is what you want, try North Korea on for size. Changing the defined rights that are the foundation to our society is not the answer and never will be. The sad, ugly truth is freedom and liberty come at a cost. All liberties have a dark side. Just remember the bright side is bigger than the dark.

Donít get me wrong, I am not a defender of guns. If all guns magically disappeared tomorrow, I would stand and applaud. But they wonít. And I think there are much deeper causes to the violence than just guns. In these cases, guns are just an easy target for the chartering class and allow them to ignore and distract the public from the real problems.

Everyone is focused on assault weapons. Here are some numbers:

In 2014, according to the latest numbers from the FBI crime report, there were 11,961 murders: 8,124 by firearms, 248 by rifle (this would include assault rifles), 262 by shotgun, and 5,562 by hand gun.

If the chattering class in Washington wants to end gun violence, then why arenít they talking about handguns. They never talk about the death rate from handguns because these guns are used by people to kill each other as well as themselves. Death by handgun is a long, slow burn of one victim at a time. Itís boring, and has none of the excitement of a mass shooting. Plus, it plays into my theory that the ruling class could give a shit about the under classes.

I do have a solution for both the homegrown terrorists and the average street criminal. Letís get the economy back up and running. The areas with the highest gun crime and violence, in general, have highest unemployment and lowest average wages.

According to a Mother Jones analyst, between 1966 and 2006 there were only two years that had more than 60 people killed in mass shootings. Between 2007 and 2015 there were five years that saw more the 60 people killed in mass shootings. The Great Recession started in 2007.

Most of the recent terrorists are second-generation immigrants. With the notable exception of Asians, the opportunities for second-generation immigrants are miserable at best.

Give people jobs, hope, and the chance of a bright future, and they are unlikely to be radicalized or willing to throw their lives away.

Mother Jones magazine published a chart showing mass shootings going back to 1960. What is interesting is the dramatic rise of these events starting in the late 1990s and continuing to escalate to today. They correlate to the stagnation of family income, the continuing decrease of labor participation, and the dramatic rise in disability. People like myself attribute this economic downturn to be late Clinton, Bush, and Obama economic policies, which placed the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interest of the American workers. All of these administrations have pursued foreign trade policies and record regulations that have continued to chew the middle class and has all but destroyed any hope for the poor.

Read other articles by Bill Hillman