With the Democrats and liberal media all crashing the boards after a mass school shooting to push gun control, it sucks a lot of air out of the discussion and the ability to look at real causes and solutions.
To gun control people, it seems simple. Do something! Ban the AR-15, those weapons of war! Ban assault weapons.
Yet none of that would have stopped the Santa Fe shooter. And most mass shootings are done with handguns, not AR-15s. AR-15s and ‘assault weapons’ are not deadlier than other guns. And it wouldn’t remove any of the guns currently in circulation anyway.
So how do you address the cause? And more, why does this keep happening?
National Review writes about the hypothesis by Malcolm Gladwell.
At the risk of oversimplifying a complex argument, essentially he argues that each mass shooting lowers the threshold for the next. He argues, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with the Columbine shooting in many ways the key triggering event. Relying on the work of Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter, Gladwell notes that it’s a mistake to look at each incident independently:
But Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyone around him was grabbing cameras from the electronics store.
Gladwell believes that Columbine changed and lowered the thresholds for major modern mass school shootings.
The sociologist Ralph Larkin argues that Harris and Klebold laid down the “cultural script” for the next generation of shooters. They had a Web site. They made home movies starring themselves as hit men. They wrote lengthy manifestos. They recorded their “basement tapes.” Their motivations were spelled out with grandiose specificity: Harris said he wanted to “kick-start a revolution.” Larkin looked at the twelve major school shootings in the United States in the eight years after Columbine, and he found that in eight of those subsequent cases the shooters made explicit reference to Harris and Klebold. Of the eleven school shootings outside the United States between 1999 and 2007, Larkin says six were plainly versions of Columbine; of the eleven cases of thwarted shootings in the same period, Larkin says all were Columbine-inspired.
And the Santa Fe shooter appears to have hints of the Columbine influence with the shotgun, the trenchcoat and the reference to Baphomet, although it’s still in the early stages of finding out the facts.
But most chilling part of the Gladwell thesis is that it takes less to trigger the low threshold shooters.
In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.
In other contexts, he’s elaborated further. The preparations for massacres are often extremely detailed. Shooters (and wannabe shooters) will often film videos, mimic the dress and poses of the Columbine killers, and otherwise copy the shooters who came before. Gladwell is hardly an NRA conservative — and he believes gun control “has its place” — but he also shares this grim warning: “Let’s not kid ourselves that if we passed the strictest gun control in the world that we would end this particular kind of behavior.”
And that’s truly the most chilling thing.