Manifestos are a dime a dozen but the deaths they cause are real–and tragic

The thugs who commit mass shootings often back up their murders with a manifesto that purports to (a) gain converts and (b) show that their actions were justified.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The attack in Buffalo is the direct result of white nationalist propaganda, specifically the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, being promoted and now mainstreamed by major public figures. While this false notion that white people are being systematically replaced by Blacks, immigrants, and Jews has deep historical roots, it has gained traction in recent years.  And with that traction has come violence, both physical and political.”

Such theories, ideas, and notions are not only arrogant but abhorrent. Some people argue that the killers in mass shootings are not insane but have been radicalized by white supremacy propaganda of one stripe or another. My view is that “being radicalized” in this way IS an example of insanity, but splitting hairs about definitions won’t fix the problem. Neither will be banning freedom of speech.

I would like to see more forums, books, articles, TED talks, and other initiatives that promote a dialogue about the inflammatory issues that divide us rather than leaving the entire discussion to Facebook and other threads where is no civility or enlightened attempt to explore what is polarizing us and why such things frighten people to the extent that they take others’ lives and are killed in the process.

We need to develop new ways of looking at the world rather than perpetuating fear and distrust that, if not addressed, will turn our country into an armed camp of competing insanities.


I don’t understand mass shootings

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty basics, I don’t want to understand mass shootings. But, as a country, I think we need to figure them out. So far, (through March) there have been 146 mass shootings this year, with a death toll of 148 along with 485 wounded. The latest one occurred in South Carolina yesterday when five people, including a doctor, his wife, two grandchildren, and another individual were killed by a shooter who apparently took his own life. No motive has been established.

Do you really need this for self defense? Wikipedia photo.

Many people believe these shootings occur due to easy access to guns, with the emphasis to “access” usually meaning military-style weapons. When I was in high school and junior high school, almost everyone I knew owned guns, as did my family. They were for hunting and target practice. That was 50 years ago, so how we felt about hunting for food is so different from today’s culture, that it would be inaccurate to say, we had easy access to guns and yet there were no mass shootings.

Some people hunted deer, though we never did. These folks used 30-30 and 30-06 rounds in a variety of rifles. Many were bolt action. Some held 3-5 rounds. We owned shotguns for hunting ducks. My grandfather in Illinois hunted pheasants, my wife’s father hunted deer and quail. Almost all of us went fishing. The purpose was always food that wasn’t available at the grocery store.

I cannot compare our access to guns in the 1950s and 1960s with today’s access to guns or with the kinds of guns people are buying, much less the rationale for buying them. So I’m perplexed about the motivation for buying semi-automatic weapons with large magazines. One doesn’t hunt with these. One doesn’t really need them for self-defense.

According to the New Yorker, “The late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said, in 1991, that the idea that the Second Amendment conferred a right for individuals to bear arms was ‘a fraud on the American public.’ Burger was no liberal, and his view simply reflected the overwhelming consensus on the issue at the time.” This interpretation matches mine, that being that we cannot overlook the part of the Second Amendment that mentions the militia–in today’s terms, the national guard.

The default interpretation today is to overlook the militia component of the amendment and say we all have the right to own all the military-style guns we want. That’s absurd on the face of it. Yet, when solving this problem of mass shootings, I think we need to look more at our culture than simply on access to firearms. Why would anyone bust into that doctor’s house and kill everyone? I’m not sure we know. Perhaps we will never know. If it comes down to, “The doctor pissed me off,” then we’re really not at the core issue of motivation. If you’re the shooter, knowing you will probably end up dead, being pissed off seems very lame as a rationale.

The “why” illudes us. Is it news reporting: copycats who say, “yeah, I want to die like that.” Is it the guns? Is it the fact many people don’t believe in the sanctity of life?

We’re not looking hard enough or deep enough at this problem.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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We’re all at risk

There are so many shootings we can hardly keep track of them. They seem random, and perhaps they are. If they are, any one of us could have been a victim. Or might still become one.

Wikipedia photo

On the morning of March 22 in Boulder, Colorado, the following people got up and began attending to the chores of the day that included a trip to the grocery store on Table Mesa Drive: Boulder police Officer Eric Talley, 51; King Soopers store manager Rikki Olds, 25; store employee Denny Stong, 20; store employee Teri Leiker, 51; Neven Stanisic, 23; Tralona “Lonna” Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

They died at 2:30 p.m. because Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa killed them. His defense attorney says he might be crazy.

Where will some crazy guy strike next? We don’t know. Since we don’t know, any one of us might be “there” buying a pack of hotdogs, dancing, eating our first meal out in months, attending a concert. . .

Most of us assume the next shooting will happen somewhere else. I’m sure the victims at the King Soopers store on Table Mesa Drive thought that–until they were gone.

We continue to debate whether these shootings are caused by rampant hate, rampant insanity, or bored people with a lot of guns. As long as we do nothing but debate the “why” of all this, the answers will continue blowing in the wind.