So it turns out that the Oregon shooter, Christopher Mercer, got into gun s the old-fashioned way – he learned to enjoy the shooting sports from his mother. And his mother, according to an article in today’s New York Times, was no shrinking violet when it came to exclaiming on the virtues and values of gun ownership, posting for example the following statement on the internet: “I keep two full mags in my Glock case and the ARs and AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be ‘dropping’ by my house uninvited without acknowledgement.” Sweet.
Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook, was similarly enabled and supported by his mother when it came to guns. Momma and son visited gun shops together, they shot at the range together, they probably sat and cleaned the guns together. Adam had access to all the guns in the house, which made it easy for him to drop a cap on the old lady before going over to the elementary school where he made his feelings really known.
What’s really scary in this tale of two massacres is that along with building warm and loving relationships with their sons over guns, both mothers were also keenly aware that neither boy would have qualified for the mental stability award of the year. Lanza’s mother dragged him from one mental health professional to another; Mercer’s mother posted that he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and she encouraged other parents of troubled children to contact her for advice.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not even hinting at the idea that children (or adults) who demonstrate any kind of mental disorder should, ipso facto, be considered risks to themselves or anyone else. I’m also not saying that the fact that these two boys were encouraged to use and shoot guns means, ipso facto, that they would be more disposed to commit horrendous gun assaults. But in all of the post-Oregon chatter what we hear from a certain group of public officials who want to become the 45th president of the United States, is that the Umpqua CC massacre “proves” that no amount of gun control will make any difference because people like Adam Lanza and Christopher Mercer will always ‘fall through the cracks.’
I don’t really blame Trump, Fiorina, Bush, et. al., for saying something as stupid as that. After all, it’s a tight race and pro-gun voters could be decisive in primary states like Iowa and South Carolina. What’s the old saying? You do what you gotta do? And let’s not forget that the idea that we can’t do anything about mass shootings until we ‘fix’ the mental health system didn’t emerge full-blown from Trump’s Twitter account. It was announced with unrestrained finality by Wayne LaPierre after Sandy Hook.
Truth to tell, it probably isn’t possible to do anything that would allow us to predict with any degree of accuracy who might be the next person to walk into a school, a movie theater, or some other public venue and see how many people could be mowed down before flipping to the next mag. Which is why the whole point about ‘fixing the mental health system’ to deal with gun violence is nothing more than an argument that has been invented to avoid talking about gun violence at all.
Because the truth is that mass shootings are pretty hard to pull off if you are carrying a bolt-action hunting rifle which, loaded to full capacity, only holds five rounds. And the idea that anyone would take an AR-15 with a 30-shot mag into the woods to look for Bambi is nothing but pure crap. But when sport shooting and hunting are replaced with the safety afforded by the ‘armed citizen’ versus the dangers of ‘gun-free’ zones, the result is a debasement of language to the point that no substantive discussion can ever take place. Which pretty much sums up the strategy of the pro-gun movement when it comes to gun violence.