Guns and mass murder

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It is deeply tragic that yet again our world has seen mass murder, this time in Orlando, Florida resulting in the senseless death of 49 innocent people and the wounding of dozens more. As is so predictable the instant that news broke so did the never-ending demand for tougher gun control laws. Let’s take a deep breath and examine this rationally without the raging emotion.

Let’s begin with extremism itself. We are overwhelmed with undeniable evidence that extremism in all things has negative consequences. It doesn’t matter what the specifics of the extremism happen to be, only that whenever the situation becomes extreme it always yields very bad results.

In one personal case my beautiful wife decided she needed to lose weight and get in better physical condition. That is a very positive goal and I totally supported her. But as she moved along the path of physical fitness she fell into a common trap, she became super competitive and she became extreme in her efforts. She began participating in competitive cross fit training on a daily basis without exception, sometimes two or even three times a day. I began to suggest that she moderate her exercises at least somewhat but she wouldn’t have it.

Mass murderer Omar Mateen from his Facebook page.
Mass murderer Omar Mateen from his Facebook page.

Then she injured her shoulder, so much so that her doctor told to stand down, maybe forever. Oh she will eventually recover but only after deep disappointment and a whole lot of pain caused primarily by her extreme approach to physical fitness.

In the bigger picture we have millions of people in our world who take very extreme positions with respect to their religious beliefs. Sometimes their views become so extreme they develop the idea that anyone who disagrees with their view must be exterminated. Personally I believe that in general, religion is a good thing because it does instill a moral compass. But again when extremism takes over good becomes not just bad but truly evil. Need I say it: ISIS is clearly a deeply evil manifestation of a corruption of Islam.

So the culprit is extremism and not exercise nor religion. Now let’s look specifically at the gun issue.

Guns are neither all good nor all evil. In fact guns are merely inanimate objects and do absolutely nothing without human intervention. But I confess that guns are indeed very powerful and potentially extremely lethal tools as are cars, airplanes and sledge hammers. So what then is the solution? The solution is a combination of real knowledge and discipline.

From 1966 through 1967 I was a Marine stationed in Chu Lai, Vietnam. I was with about 2,000 fellow Marines, mostly young and all male and all with raging testosterone. Each of us was incredibly well armed not only with one or more firearms, but typically with at least six hand grenades. Talk about a recipe for disaster, it doesn’t get any scarier. Yet not once did I see or hear about any Marine using or even threatening to use any of his weapons on another Marine.

Yes anxious young men in a nasty environment can and did get angry and sometimes they would fight. When that happened what they did was remove all of the weaponry, punch each other a few times, then shake hands and move on. Can you picture a typical gangbanger taking that approach? No me neither. So what is the difference?

Discipline coupled with knowledge. Marines are well known for instilled discipline and it was clearly evident in Vietnam. Marines also had abundant firearms training and knew extremely well all of the critical aspects of their use. So the mere notion of using a firearm to resolve a grievance with any fellow Marine was simply washed out our minds instantly.

Of course not everyone wants or gets Marine Corps training but you don’t need that level of training to get the basics right and getting it right can go a very long way towards reducing mass murders. Consider this: in my book Mass Murders in America I examine in detail what until the Orlando massacre had been the top thirty mass murders in America of all time.

What I learned from that experience and what I share with my readers is that it has absolutely nothing to do with guns and even religion plays only a small roll and then only when taken to a dangerous and absurd extreme. The number one factor in every mass murder is a severe mental disorder within the murderer – period.

MurderCover3Also of note is the fact that in every case the murderer chose targets that were what we would call soft targets, meaning those targets where the likelihood of an opposing force was minimal. Schools soon became a favorite location for mass murders. And yes it is true that on one case involving an Army Major actually occurred on a U.S. Military base. However, those who have served in the military know that overwhelmingly in the United States guns on a military base are securely kept in an armory; it is not place with dozens of armed men and women strolling around, so it too is a soft target.

But where the presence of firearms in the hands of those trained in their proper and effective use, mass murders simply do not occur. There has never been any mass murder perpetrated for example at a police station. And even at public events when a heightened level of real and armed security is evident mass murders don’t take place. So what is the message here?

First and foremost sadly mass murders will never completely end. There will always be people who succumb to extremism and are driven through that and other forms of mental disease to go out and murder other innocent people. Given that we need not only to allow but to encourage those who wish to responsibly carry a firearm to do so.

Yes, indeed background checks are appropriate and most likely should be improved. Also there is absolutely a need not only for technical training but for proper use training as well. But there are many, even if not most, but nonetheless many of us who have received such training and would even receive more training if it gave us what should be our unrestricted right to keep and bear arms.

If you are put off by firearms than by all means don’t buy one. But do consider this; if any of those people at the Pulse Nightclub had been armed there is an excellent chance that many of those who were killed would still be alive today. That is not gun whacko rhetoric that is simply the fact and so is this. When a society collectively seeks to deny its people the ability and dare I say it — responsibility — to protect itself, increasingly its people will be slaughtered.

Top photo from YouTube video