Friday, February 16, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers (and STFU)

Gunfire Erupts At School. Leaders Offer Prayers. Children Are Buried. Repeat:

Once again a nation sends thoughts and prayers, because it has happened once again.
The flak-jacketed police storming an American school in lockdown. The anguished parents pressing against the police cordon, the morning’s hurried goodbyes suddenly precious. The assembled media unfolding camera tripods and chasing the same story angles as if for the first time.
Aerial footage of children filing out of the school, hands above heads in surrender to the tense moment. Then their frantic dash to safety, their young minds yet to process what they have just witnessed.
Then that moment when the local law enforcement official, face blanched by the sorrow of what must be imparted, appears before cameras. On Wednesday, it was Scott Israel, the sheriff of Florida’s Broward County, who stepped forward to announce the toll of a massacre inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: 17 children and adults dead, another 16 wounded.
The suspect in custody: Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student who was expelled from the school and who unnerved acquaintances with his obsession with violence and guns. After the slaughter, the police said, he dropped his legally purchased rifle — an AR-15 — ran out of the school, and bought a drink at a Subway.
“There are no words,” Sheriff Israel said.
Other than offers of thoughts and prayers. Or “prayers and condolences,” as President Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
Like literally from a script. Then the pro-gun 2A nuts (and their bought and paid for politicians) start in with the usual "ain't about guns" "too soon to talk about guns" "need more guns to stop 'em" dyslexia, and the cycle starts all over again.
“I spent four years dealing with these kinds of events after Sandy Hook,” said the former agent, Katherine W. Schweit, a co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States. “We are not going to be out of business very soon. When I retired in July, I left a whole team still doing this. It’s not shock — it’s sadness.”
This American ritual does not end with a sheriff’s announcement of the number of dead and wounded. Other parts are acted out in an ever-running play whose plot turns on the national paralysis over the Second Amendment.
An organization called Gun Owners of America complains that “another gunman was able to roam freely without any armed teacher or principal opposing him.” Gun control advocates and opponents criticize each other for not allowing the families of victims even one day to grieve. Pundits solemnly pontificate.
Pontificate by giving us their deep thoughts on the "search" for the "real reasons" why he did it (other than gun availability).
Later, in his televised address, Mr. Trump said he planned to work with state and local leaders to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
On Thursday night, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, a Republican, told CNN that he would “do everything I can to make sure this never happens again.”
Paul Gold, 45, said he lived next door to the Cruzes in 2009 and 2010 and stayed in touch with Lynda Cruz over the years.
“He had emotional problems and I believe he was diagnosed with autism,” Mr. Gold said of Nikolas Cruz. “He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards.”
He added: “He would sometimes be hitting his head and covering his ears. One time, I sent him home because he was misbehaving at our house and he took a golf club and smashed one of my trailers.”
Again, and for the umpteenth time on this blog over the years, school shootings and mass shooting have nothing to do with "mental illness." Nothing. It's not about Autism or Bi-Polar or the fact that he has "anger issues." The careful level of planning and execution of these shootings suggests a fully rational person who knows exactly what they're doing. A person mentally ill or in the throes of psychosis would literally be unable to carry out such a thing.

All the mental health rhetoric is simply designed to get the focus off the real culprit: the availability of semi-automatic weapons, which states like Florida make it easier to purchase than they do get a driver's license. In fact, in another cruel irony: you can buy an AR-15 at the age of 18 in Florida and go sweep your school, but you can't buy an alcoholic drink till three years later. 
There is still one more reason the weapons are so popular in states like Florida: They are very easy to buy — and for a 19-year-old like Nikolas Cruz, the shooting suspect, far easier to obtain than a handgun.
Florida has a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases. But anyone without a felony record, domestic abuse conviction, or a handful of other exceptions — such as a commitment to a mental institution — can walk into a gun store, wait a few minutes to clear a background check, and walk out with an AR-15 -style rifle, magazines and ammunition.
Under federal law, you also must be 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. But 18-year-olds can buy semiautomatic rifles.
Because in Florida, you're mature enough to lug a street sweeper around, but not a beer. Got it.

I'm not saying the other structural and environmental factors didn't play a role. I think the loss of both your parents before you're 19 years old creates anomie, and his already disconnected status from school fueled it as well. And sure, kids get angry, like really pissed, in adolescence. All of them do, and that's particularly tied up in toxic masculinity.
Studies have shown, for example, that in school shootings, the killers virtually always “leak” their intentions, leaving a trail of clues behind them. Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who the police said has confessed in the Parkland shooting, apparently was no exception: Students reportedly avoided him and joked that if anyone were going to shoot up the school, it would be him.
Researchers have also found that in many, if not most, cases of school violence, the perpetrator has done extensive research on previous school shootings, studying them in detail, often with special attention to the killings at Columbine High School in 1999. A study of nine school shootings in Europe conducted by J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist in San Diego who consults on threat assessment for schools and corporations, found that a third of the killers had “consciously imitated and emulated what had happened in Columbine.”
Finally, there is nascent, but increasing, evidence that violence begets violence, with one school shooting — especially if it receives a lot of publicity — leading to others, a phenomenon that researchers refer to as “contagion.” And some psychologists believe that news media reports of mass killings may propel people who are already at risk of violence into committing copycat crimes.
And before you know it, there will be "Parkland appreciation" websites lauding this dope and what he did on Valentine's Day, and soon more shootings using his methods, etc.

Sadly, there simply isn't the political will to move against these semiautomatic rifles and remove them from society. There isn't any kind of political will at all to do any kind of guns control because, as noted several times already on this blog, the reaction to these kinds mass carnage is more, not less, guns. 

That's right, more. This is how we get more campus carry, concealed carry, open carry (and the quantifiable leap in violence in those states which have passed them v. those who didn't), and pretty soon if we're all armed, every single person will be able to start shooting when a mass shooter enters the building, and when the cops show up, they won't know who the "good guy with the gun" is and who isn't, and believe me, all you Rambo/Deathwish/Dirty Harry mf's will end up dead too. 

Good luck with that. And Happy Belated Valentine's Day, America.

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