The Gun Fight (Part 2): Re-Actions


After the mass-media has fully exploited a mass-shooting, the echo chambers are quiet and the rhetoric is packed away until the next “opportunity.”   All the while, acts of mass-violence prevented by legal gun carriers—in law enforcement, in public venues and in private homes—do not make the news.  Maybe it’s because these events lack enough “production value” for the image-based “show” business we still call the “news.”   When guns stop gun-violence—there are not enough crying mothers or grieving friends or candlelight vigils or curbside shrines to justify a news team—just a bunch of people standing around talking about what might have happened if guns had not controlled the situation before it got out of hand [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9].   Or maybe when force is quickly met with force (and the body count is low), there is nothing of service to the “correct” political purpose.   I have always found it odd that when guns control the situation, no one talks about gun-control.

Though small children have been killed in mass violence in America before [10] [11], the recent horrific killing of small children at Sandy Hook School has provided an opportunity for politicians to “use it as an opportunity to do things they could not do before, because they never want a serious crisis to go to waste. [12]”  The Sandy Hook Shooting, and the rapid succession of mass killings [13] [14] [15] [16] immediately preceding it, has precipitated a series of government hearings designed to consider what can be done to reduce gun violence.  Afterward, the White House produced a document outlining the President’s executive “actions” (I suppose the old term “executive orders” sounded too bossy)[17] [18].   This document is entitled: “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.”   In this post, I will attempt to summarize and evaluate if these executive actions (or re-actions) will indeed reduce gun violence and thus protect our children and communities.  (Most readers familiar with my other post may expect that this will be polemical.  However, you should know up front that I thought that many of the actions, were common sense and worth doing… if we will actually do them.)

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EXECUTIVE ACTION 1: CLOSING BACKGROUND CHECK LOOPHOLES

Increase the efficiency of background checks and sharing information, not just criminal but mental health information, before gun purchases are finalized…

Now is not the “time” for this measure.  The time for this measure, in my opinion, was many years ago.  When I hear that the shooters who have killed innocent people had been acting strangely, and threatening, and even confessing what they were going to do, for months or years before the shooting; and that there was a paper trail of disciplinary actions and descriptions of their threats and violent behavior from the organizations in which they were engaged—when I hear these things, I have thought the same thing as the president, “Why in the world are we not centralizing this information, making it available to local and federal authorities so that these “persons of interest” could be watched in order to anticipate and intercept their violent intentions.”

For this executive action to be effective, mental health information will need to be collected and shared, which is not being done in any meaningful way because of the enthusiasm for civil and privacy rights as of late.   I expect that this executive action (if it ever becomes more than a reaction) will be opposed at every turn by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which has worked to restrict the collection of information on mental illness, arguing that it will jeopardize privacy rights and further stigmatize the mentally ill and keep them away from the help they need.

Extending the requirement for background checks to gun sales between individuals and unlicensed gun sellers not only at gun shows but all sales…

In terms of cost/benefit, it might be worth the extra “red-tape” of requiring background checks on unlicensed transfers (such as private selling and gifts of guns) just to make it more difficult for guns to find their way into the hands of those who should not have them according to our law—persons such as felons and the mentally unstable and those convicted of domestic violence.  (I will have more to say on the efficiency of background checks later in the post.)

Passing laws to prosecute gun-traffickers such as “straw purchasers” (those who buy guns and pass the background check just to sell them to criminals for a profit); and also requiring the tracing of all guns used in crime to the dealer who sold it and its first purchaser…   

Some may see these actions as a restriction of personal rights.  Though an individual has the right to buy and sell a gun, a person does not have the right to buy guns just to sell them to persons they know are going to use them for criminal acts.  As might be expected, such actions are difficult to discover, especially considering that all records of background checks are destroyed within 24 hours after the background check takes place.  So it is difficult to even know when someone is buying a truck-load of guns in a short period of time.

[There are various ways of trying to trap straw purchasers.  From what I understand, this is one of the main objectives of the infamous “Fast and Furious Gunwalking Program” by the Department of Justice (DOJ).   Tracking devices were placed in a few guns in a lot sold to suspected straw purchases to discover if they were being sold into a criminal element.  The problem was that rather than arresting the “straw purchasers” when they were discovered, the DOJ allowed the guns to make their way through the criminal element in hopes of finding the head of the drug cartels.  Tragically these guns were lost in the process and used to kill innocent people, including a U.S. official. [19]]

Records of background checks are destroyed soon after they are made because to keep a permanent record as well as a permanent record of tracing guns through owners to the dealer, as defined in the executive order, would essentially constitute a federal gun registry.  (This is a key point in that it is not a “slippery slope argument,” it is a natural consequence of the actions as they are proposed.)   It is also true that some states already require gun registries which connect guns to gun owners allowing authorities to monitor multiple gun purchases in a short period of time and thus spotting straw purchasers.  However the registry is also designed to allow authorities to confiscate guns from owners prohibited from having them… and that’s the rub, it is feared that such a federal gun registry, would make it easy for the government to confiscate guns from all its citizens (or at least the law abiding ones).  Gun owners are skeptical of any action, or reaction, that makes it easier for the government to disarm them… as were the founding fathers.  However such fears are becoming somewhat quaint to more recent political sensibilities, at least at the moment.  It may be possible that a constitution that was designed by people who did not trust giving power to government has created five generations of security which has lulled people into trusting the government with powers beyond the constitution.   But do we really think that government (or people in general) can be trusted with power?

[It is commonly believed that guns purchased at gun shows do not require background checks—that anyone can buy a gun at a gun show with no questions asked.  Here is a quote from a Huffington Post article that strongly suggests this:  “Today, checks are only mandatory on sales by federally licensed gun dealers, not transactions at gun shows or other private sales.[20]”  Although this sentence seems to be saying background checks are not required at gun shows, the person who wrote this sentence probably knows this is not true; that is why they added the word “other” in this sentence.  Adding this word allows this propagandist to say, if anyone asks, that he is only talking about the private selling that is done between individuals who have brought a gun to the gun show, not the guns sold at the tables.  The dealers at gun shows are federally licensed gun dealers.  They are required by federal law to do background checks on all the guns they sell.  As a matter of fact there are many such federal laws about gun-selling that the mainstream media never seem to mention, such as:

  • It is a felony to engage in the business of buying and selling guns and ammunition without a federal fire arms license and all licensed federal fire arms dealers (everyone in the business of selling guns) is committing a federal crime if they sell any firearm without first performing a background check, this includes gun shows, flea markets and any retail stores such as Wal-Mart or any other location, including transactions across the kitchen table.
  • It is a felony to sell, trade, give, lend or rent a gun to someone known (or should be known) as legally disallowed to possess a firearm (the criminal, the mentally incompetent, or a drug abuser.[21])
  • It is a felony to submit false information on a background check form for the purpose of purchasing a firearm.  The DOJ rarely pursues this source for identifying the criminal element in the background check process.  [This raises a question that has appeared in many other contexts of the government recently:  Why do we need more laws when we are not already enforcing the laws on the books?]

The oft quoted statistic that 40% of all gun transactions do not involve a background check is based on a 20 year-old study with a very small and unrepresentative sample .[22]  The true figure is probably between 10-15% and many of these are transfers between family members.   It is also important to consider that, as it currently stands, requiring universal background checks would depend on the honor system and would be impossible to enforce without a gun registry (and even with a gun registry if gun owners wanted to be “off the grid.”  It is also worth noting that even if the government could enforce universal background checks, it would not make much difference in the case of mass-shootings.  When considering the data collected by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City on purchase of guns used in mass shootings over the last 30 years (30 events)[23], only one event involved straw purchases and only one event involved the purchase at a gun store without a background check.  Most were clearly legal purchases with background checks.

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EXECUTIVE ACTION 3: MAKING SCHOOLS SAFER

The Executive Actions would put mental health professionals (“counselors”) in schools to detect and help the mentally unstable before they become violent; and it would also hire police officers (“resource officers”) to shoot them if they do become violent [I added the “shoot them” part.  The document doesn’t say they would actually shoot anybody (or even carry a gun) it simply says they “can deter crime with their presence and advance community policing objectives”].

I believe that all of these actions will work to reduce gun violence, especially in cases where school shootings involved mentally unstable students from that particular school.  I am assuming that the “resource officers” will have a gun so they will be able to return fire (or rather “advance community policing objectives”) when the shooting begins and not allow the shooter to walk around shooting people at will, which does happen in cases where schools are advertising that they are gun-free zones.   However, if it is a large school and there is only one “resource officer,” many children could be killed before the officer could respond.  And if these resource officers are uniformed or carrying their guns openly (if they are allowed to carry guns) then a potential shooter could identify them and take them out first.

Some school districts are beginning to allow combat-trained teachers to carry secured concealed weapons in the classroom.  This dramatically reduces response time and, as concealed carry, it keeps the shooter from being able to identify potential security personnel.   It is interesting that such a possibility is not mentioned in the President’s plan, especially considering that the title is “Now Is the Time…”  Almost all of the actions ordered by President Obama might eventually make students safer, but concealed carry would make them safer “now,” not later.  Those involved in concealed carry should be combat trained, which would include training on how to secure their weapons on their person to keep them out of the hands of students (security guards and police officers carry weapons with them and are able to keep them away from kids).

This Executive Action will also help train law enforcement, first responders and school officials how to deal with active shooter situations and assure that every school has a plan and performs active drills to teach students the plan. 

This also is common sense.  If we are generating a culture of violence for our children, then we should train them how to survive in such a culture.  The implication seems to be that these active shooter plans would make our schools safer because schools are not practicing them.  However, the Sandy Hook School had actually practiced just such a drill a few weeks before the shooting occurred.  As a matter of fact, the shooter by-passed one of the rooms because there was black construction paper still in the door window to make the room look dark… the teacher had forgotten to take it down after the drill.  The Sandy Hook School plan was strict and well thought out… except that it did not include the possibility that a shooter with a gun would just shoot through the glass to gain entrance to a locked-down school… maybe bullet-proof glass would be money well spent, but then the shooter probably would have just driven his car through the entrance.

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EXECUTIVE ACTION 4: IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

This executive action will set up programs to diagnose and begin treating mental health issues before the age of 24 by trained teachers and others in contact with young people to detect and respond to mental instability and know and practice ways of encouraging their parents to seek treatment for them.  This executive action will also set up school based programs on conflict-resolution, reduced bullying, and other school-based violence prevention strategies…

When reading about the executive actions that will make background checks more efficient in keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable, I wondered if this would really make our communities safer without a more proactive approach; so this executive action, which improves mental health services, is certainly something that is needed.  And if this executive action is ever put into action, it will also be unbelievably expensive.

Beginning in the 1960s and throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s several events occurred simultaneously which led to a major shift in mental health policy.  Advances in medications, especially “tranquilizers” such as Thorazine, allowed for an overly optimistic belief that these drugs could medicate serious chronic mental disorders.  It was also a time when politicians were all too happy to remove the tremendous financial burden, and public-relations nightmare, of running state mental hospitals (they were considered by many to be “snake pits” of abuse and vice, as showcased in the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).  And all of this was occurring as a part of the political inertia of the civil rights movement.  Government officials began the process of deinstitutionalization, believing that serious chronic mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression and personality disorders, could be treated in community mental health clinics or half-way houses.   When deinstitutionalization occurred, money for the community mental health clinics quickly dried up and the mentally ill were cared for by family members who were not trained to provide the care needed.   Today many of the mentally ill in our communities end up on the streets or in our prison system.   It is now estimated that up to 20% of our prison population is suffering from a serious mental illness.   It may be true that most mentally ill people don’t commit crimes.  But it is also true that about 10% of homicides are committed by the mentally ill [24].   And, in the case of mass shootings, it is also true that the vast majority of shooters have a clear history of mental instability.

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EXECUTIVE ACTION 2: COMMON-SENSE STEPS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

Give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) a director; collect and share information on lost and stolen guns; Attorney General to work with other attorneys to reduce gun violence; tell health care providers that they can gather info on mentally ill patients (such as if they have guns in their homes) and then let authorities know if one of their patients may be capable of gun violence…  

I agree with the title—these are certainly “common-sense” steps; but, as I said at the beginning of the post, these are things that should have been done already.  It is strange that it is only “now” that our government is getting around to bringing it up.  The fact that we would need executive actions to do them is simply admitting that government officials and politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are not doing their jobs.

Require specific research and data collection on gun violence; study the links between gun-violence and movies, video games and media images…

While I’m not sure this executive action will be well received in Hollywood, I think that it will be of value in understanding the impact of the “culture of violence” in all kinds of American media, especially on unstable minds.  It is clear when considering mass shootings that at least some involve copy-cat actions because of the celebrity status of shooters produced by all the media hype.  The findings of such research could begin moving us beyond just treating the symptoms and move closer to finding the real sickness.

Support innovative gun safety technology and promote commonsense gun safety measures…

“Commonsense” is the operative word here.  In the past some politicians have tried to use safety measures to make guns unusable; for instance, there were laws passed stating that guns had to be kept disassembled or with trigger locks.  The Supreme Court ruled [25] that this did not allow them to be used for self-defense, which is true. If someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night you don’t want to have to put your gun back together before you can use it.

I also believe it is a great idea to teach gun safety to everyone, not just those who own guns.  When I was a kid my dad taught me gun safety.  He told me “Don’t put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot…  always check the safety to make sure it’s on and never point the barrel at someone, always keep it pointed to the ground or to the sky.”  He told me that I should do all these things, even when I am absolutely positive that the gun is unloaded.  Just recently I have seen several pictures and video clips of politicians holding assault rifles and their fingers are on the trigger and, in about half of the cases, they are pointing them in the direction of others.  Maybe politicians should take the gun safety course first.

Reinstitute the ban on military-style assault weapons and strengthen it; also place a ban on high-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds.

You probably noticed that I have taken these executive actions out of order.  I did this so as to save this one for last.  I saved it for the end because I really believe that this (and universal background checks) is the real ideological “meat” and the others are just “potatoes.”  The main problem for President Obama and Senator Diane Feinstein, who are the key players behind such a ban, is that this ban is not popular in the states and in congress (more critically democratic senators from Red States); so much so, that the Senate is not even going to vote on it.  This is in direct contradiction to President Obama’s State of the Union mantra that his gun control “deserves a vote.”[26] It appears there will not be a vote because there is not enough support for the vote to be meaningful for anything other than just appearances (and those democrat senators in Red States don’t want to have to make an appearance on the vote—it’s a no win situation for them.).   What is not known by most is that the main reasons why the president’s plan that “deserves a vote” is so unpopular as not to get a vote was actually circulated by a researcher in the president’s own Department of Justice weeks before the president published his executive actions.  Here is my summary of the cursory findings of this Department of Justice (DOJ) researcher [27] [28]:

  • Although mass shootings precipitate calls      for gun control, out of the 11,000 annual gun homicides, only about 35 of      these deaths are from mass shootings, defined as more than 3 victims shot      at one time in one place.  (That’s      not 35%, that is 35 total or 0.003%.)       A far greater impact can be made addressing more significant causes      of firearm homicide (such as suicide and drug culture) beyond the much      more rare mass shootings; and an even smaller number of these mass      shootings actually involve assault weapons.
  • Gun buybacks are ineffective because too few guns are offered      for buyback and these can easily be replaced.  Also, the guns that are bought back are      from law abiding citizens and at very low risk of being used in a      crime.  Gun buybacks can work to      reduce mass shootings, as seems to have happened in Australia, if combined      with bans on certain weapons and nationwide gun registration.  However, the homicide rate in Australia      was already declining before the ban, and the ban does not seem to have      increased the rate of decline.  Also,      there was no reduction in the crime rate (I have heard there was actually      an increase in the crime rate as the guns were taken from law abiding      citizens so they could no longer defend themselves from criminals with      guns).
  • Assault weapon and large capacity magazine bans will be ineffective      because they apply only to manufacturing and not possession.  As both the weapons and the magazines      are durable goods (especially when not being used), lasting for a generation      or more, there are literally million upon millions of them in circulation.  As was learned with the decade long      assault weapons ban beginning in 1994, the ban made weapons and high      capacity magazines more valuable and made money for the seller.  (As a matter of fact, every time      politicians begin to talk about gun-control, the manufacture and demand for      these very weapons increased dramatically in anticipation of the coming ban.  So publicizing a gun ban actually      increases the number of the very weapons gun control advocates wish to ban.)  Statistics tend to show there was no reduction      in the use of large capacity magazines in crime resulting from the 1994      ban and thus does not account for any of the nations’ recent drop in gun      violence.  In order to have an      impact, not just manufacture but possession must be banned.  With simply a ban on manufacturing and      import, it would take many decades for the banned weapons to degrade into      uselessness.
  • Even with the total elimination of assault weapons      there would be very little overall effect on gun homicide as the guns to      be banned account for just 2-8% of gun homicides (more people are clubbed      to death than are killed with all rifles, including assault weapons).
  • Even a perfect universal background check system      would not address the fact that the largest source (approx. 70%) of guns      used in gun crimes are from straw purchasers and theft.  And even if straw purchases are curbed      through universal background checks and a gun registry, gun theft would      become much more common to make up for the difference.

The fascinating thing about this cursory memo and its findings is not that it mentions a gun registry and gun confiscation as the best way to have a significant impact on gun violence. The most telling aspect of this research document produced by President Obama’s DOJ is that it was published weeks before President Obama announced his executive (re)actions and yet it had no impact on his decisions.  It reminds me of how President Obama set up the Simpson-Boles Commission but completely ignored it’s report [29]; or how Obama’s White House initiated the idea of the Sequester, but then disowned it and blamed it on the Republicans (does anyone really believe that the Republicans would come up with a plan which dramatically cuts the defense budget?)[30].  It seems that President Obama is interested in the perceptions and appearances (“optics”) of caring about the evidence rather than taking action upon it, especially when it is not useful to his ideological agenda.

Which brings me to my conclusion…

Intentional Prejudicial Decisions

The term “assault rifle,” as used by the military, refers to specific qualities of the weapon, such as a detachable magazine, firing range of at least 300 meters and the capability of “selective fire” with a switch that allowed the rifle to shoot semi-auto (1 round every time the trigger was pulled and released), fully-auto (continuous fire when the trigger is pulled until the trigger is released) and 3-round burst (three shots every time the trigger is pulled).  With this specific definition of assault rifles, none of the civilian military-style rifles being targeted as “assault weapons” would qualify because none of them have selective fire.  For political purposes this similar term of “assault weapon” is being stretched to fit whatever weapon a politician does not like.  Whereas the military term “assault rifle” focuses on aspects of the rifle which matter in battle, such as range, and rate of fire, and transportation of ammunition… the political term “assault weapon” (like many politicians themselves, as well as our culture of perceptions) focuses more on superficial considerations rather than realities.  For instance, the 1994 ban on “assault weapons” defined the banned weapons relative to such cosmetic considerations as the presence of a folding or telescoping stock, pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously, bayonet mount and flash suppressor (or a threaded barrel so a flash suppressor, silencer, grenade launcher or some other scary accessories could be added later).  My point is that these things have nothing to do with the ability of the gun to kill and everything to do with looking scary.  In other words, if you take off the telescoping stock, the pistol grip, the bayonet mount and flash suppressor, it still has the same ability to kill and to kill with exactly the same efficiency.

It is true that the Aurora Theatre Shooting and the Sandy Hook School Shootings involved military-style assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.  This is mentioned prominently in the White House Executive Action Document.  What is often not mentioned is that military-style assault weapons are very rarely used in gun crime.  It is estimated that about 1 out of every 100 gun crimes involves an assault weapon and only about 1 out of 1000 violent gun crimes involves this style of weapon.  Even after tripling these figures they still pale in comparison to the 1 out of 17 homicides committed with hands, fists and feet.[31]   Even considering just mass shootings, only about one out of three involves an assault weapon according to the 1994 ban specifications.  This raises an important question:  Why would politicians ban weapons which play such a small role in overall gun violence?   It may have to do with “optics.”  Like the difference between the negative terms “assault weapon” and the descriptive term “military-style rifle,” it is important to manage perceptions.  Military-style rifles are also more fear producing because we have a media culture which has shown these types of weapons assaulting people in thousands upon thousands of violent images—in movies, on TV, and in video games.  There is a built in prejudice that can be played upon.  The emotional pliability produced by fear can easily be used by a political ideology to play upon our perceptions (rather than facts) in order to focus on one particular variety of weapons which would then become a gateway to broader gun control.  Fear (and ignorance) certainly has a way of feeding upon themselves.  For instance, the banning of military-style rifles could eventually lead to the banning of toaster pastries shaped like firearms.  It is true…a school in Maryland banned Pop-Tarts nibbled into the shape of a gun, even expelling the gun “nibbler.” (Don’t worry, there is a potential law in the Maryland legislature to protect our right to “keep and nibble” our toaster pastry “firearms”).[32]  And another school has confiscated a batch of cupcakes with green plastic soldiers on top because they were carrying tiny plastic guns[33] (yes, they were assault weapons).

In our cultural transformation where perception becomes reality, it is not so much what it is, but what it looks like…you have to constantly consider the “optics” of what you do.  What it looks like, not necessarily what it is—drawing people’s attention to images that will produce vehement emotional responses, distracting their higher order thinking skills in order to control them through their emotions and move them toward the action or reaction you desire.  I have seen it (or at least its attempt) recently in the context of gun-control. In a hearing, a senator asked another senator a question about the assault weapon ban by comparing the banning of certain popular weapons to banning certain popular books.  There is a rational answer to this question involving the fact that rights are not absolute.  The government often sets limits on our rights.  I have the right to yell “movie” in a firehouse; but I don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a movie house.  However, the senator who was asked this constitutional question about gun-control did not answer with reason but with emotion.  This person said that she did not appreciate the lecture (when to me the other senator was just setting up his question for the public).  The senator offended by the question said she was not a sixth grader.  Then the senator highlighted these facts: that she had seen people shot, seen bodies that had been shot, seen bullets that implode, and seen Sandy Hook youngsters that were dismembered.   These statements were obviously meant to take the discussion to an emotional level.  Eventually the offended senator did speak about the specifics of the ban (though they did not answer the question).  The senator said that the proposed assault weapons ban “exempts” two-thousand, two-hundred and seventy-one weapons and followed up with this reassuring conclusion: “Isn’t that enough for the people in the United States?”[34]    I would point out that using the word “exempt” implies that all guns had been banned and that the government had “exempted” a large portion.  This is exactly the kind of thinking most gun-owners fear.  However, what interested me the most is the form of the senator’s response.  To immediately escalate the discussion from a reasonable inquiry to an emotional appeal, then to simply assume the government has the right to “prohibit” and “exempt,” at will, expecting that the people of the United States should be grateful for the governments generosity—this is exactly the thing the Anti-Federalists feared and the very reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place.

In a later interview, the defensive (or offended) senator, in attempting to clarify her reaction, once again referenced gory images: “When you come from where I’ve come from and what you’ve seen, when you found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons.”[35]  Not sure why you would want to put your finger in the bullet holes of a dead body, but the over-the-top imagery reminded me of the recent call by a particular exploitation documentarian for the images of the dead children at Sandy Hook School to be made public for their emotional impact.[36] Do we really need to see these things or experience them to “realize the impact of weapons?”  Don’t we have vivid enough imaginations, as well as minds full of a multitude of images our culture of violence has fed us?

Even if we want the argument to focus on the carnage of a weapon, at the time the 2nd Amendment was written, the “assault” weapon of that day was the Brown Bess Musket firing a .69 caliber musket ball (a chunk of lead well over half an inch in diameter) and, at close range, this weapon could do much more damage than the 22 caliber military round used today in most military-style weapons on the market.   We could also mention the fact that an (unbanned) shotgun at close range with (unbanned) buckshot or an (unbanned) slug would do much more damage than a 22 caliber military round.

I certainly can understand the trauma and emotional impact of witnessing a shooting (or its aftermath) but that does not lead to clear-thinking actions, it leads to prejudicial emotional reactions.   Recounting the gory details (such as putting your fingers in bullet holes) is useful to bring up when trying to take the argument (if you can call it that) to an emotional level just to manipulate a person’s feelings of fear or empathy, to get them to act without reference to facts, stats or arguments.   I recognize that “scare tactics” work.  They are easy and useful.  They are not based upon facts of actions in the past or the efficiency of actions in the future; they are just a visceral reaction to get your way in the present.  Making decisions based upon a spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction usually indicates a weak argument (or a lazy “arguer”).   In short, it is a way of controlling someone through fear.  Our justice system has recognized such “prejudicial decisions (decisions made on pure emotion)” and has ruled against them, knowing that justice—true justice, not the media kind—requires facts and reason and evidence.  Let me take it one step further. Using fear to control through pure emotion is qualitatively similar to how terrorism functions.  It is not actually producing a fearful situation (or its threat) but rather simply using a fearful situation (or its threat) already produced.  However, it is only a matter of time until those dependent upon such fear tactics will begin to act in such a way to bring more pain and thus more fear, both through threats and other means, to get people to react the way they want.[37]

In Diane Feinstein’s interview with Wolfe Blitzer, she called the shooters in mass-shootings “Grievance Killers.”  I had never heard this term before.  However, I find it an interesting term in that it highlights that these mass shootings involve someone who feels so enraged about being bullied and patronized for some issue about which they are passionate that they no longer listen to reason but allow their emotions to control them and take whatever force of authority they have and attack someone to get retribution for a perceived humiliation they feel they had to endure… acting on outrage and not reason.  It is the reaction of retribution.  I fear it is more common than we know—at least in quality, if not quantity; and, if so, what we need is a different quality, a fundamental transformation from inside out, into someone that does not bear a record of wrongs, who endures, and hopes and forgives. We saw it on the first Good Friday.  It is the responsibility of Love.


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