Friday, July 06, 2007

Sad? Angry? Bored? Shoot Someone!

In one of those ironic life moments you just can't script, I was sitting here with my iPod on shuffle when Johnny Cash's "Hardin Wouldn't Run" came on. What an awesome tune. It starts off with telling a story about John Wesley Hardin losing his money shooting dice in a saloon, then pulling a gun and demanding his money back. As I was enjoying Mr. Cash's sad song, I pulled up the Rocky Mountain News on my 'puter and saw this headline:

Lone gunman opens fire in Vegas casino; 3 wounded

My first thought (well, second thought after, "How ironic") was how amazing it was that no one was killed. What a failure that guy was!

In all seriousness, how exactly did it become fashionable to get a gun and shoot at random people because you're not happy with your life? I just can't fathom it. I can grasp wanting to take out someone who had a direct impact on your life. I can grasp getting so distraught that you decide to take your own life. (though, of course, I neither condone nor recommend either of those things) But I can't for the life of me grasp the desire to take out completely anonymous strangers.

What is it about the world... about the United States... that poisons people so much? Yes, this happens in other places, but nothing like here. It's akin to terrorism, of course, but it's not the same. Terrorists are part of a larger machine; they believe that what they're doing is serving some greater purpose. For all intents and purposes, they've been brainwashed.

These shooters here are loners. There may be a couple working together, like the Columbine kids, but they're not part of anything. They're on the outside looking in. And at some point, their hatred of those on the inside grows so great, their whole view turns red with blood.

And then they start shooting.

Kids. Adults. Upper-class. Middle-class. Lower-class. Educated. Uneducated. Family men. Drifters.

That's a pretty wide range there. About the only constants are that they're men, and they're pissed.

I gotta tell you, while I'm certainly conscious of the threat of terrorism, I'm not nearly as fearful of it directly affecting my life as I am one of these psychopaths opening fire somewhere my family happens to be.

Shit, whether you agree with the policies and methodologies or not, there are at least governments out there trying to keep terrorists from attacking us. There are lots and lots of people studying and planning and counter-planning, all to end the threat of terrorism.

Who's studying and planning and counter-planning to end the threat of the angry fucker with a gun?

13 comments:

Joe the Troll said...

Whenever this happens and we find out more about the person, it always seems to be people who felt they had no control over anything in their lives, and they blame others for that. The shootings always seem to be a pathetic way to say "Ha ha, now I have some control over what happens to OTHERS for a change."

Don said...

Yes, that helplessness is expressed in a lot of ways, not just this but I dunno, doing lots of hookers, or driving like an asshole, or trolling blogs, whatever. But it's the gunmen who really hurt people. I think our society is (too slowly) developing a better understanding of mental health, and a lot of pathologies are being addressed, but I don't know the specifics. It's harder to get guns than it used to be yet the incidents seem not to be slowing down, so your characterizing it as a fashion is appropriate. As disconnected as these people feel, they are part of their society, and they will do what that society has suggested they do, even if only implicitly as by showing pictures of that idiot down in Virginia.

I haven't answered your question, but I do believe we're better off than we used to be. Even small things, like a therapist asking a new client if they've ever thought of harming anyone, something they never used to be required to do, has the effect of occasionally catching someone who's otherwise about to go over the edge.

Mark said...

"Who's studying and planning and counter-planning to end the threat of the angry fucker with a gun?"

Plenty of folks, apparently...

O' Tim said...

I was nearly shocked when a local fire officer told me that it was not until recent years that the law enforcement community has begun building the counseling infrastructure needed for public safety workers who deal with trauma on a frequent basis.

Forgive the finer point of example. I didn't answer your question either, my first thought was toward the cleanup for these things.

Cheezy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheezy said...

Thoughtful post, Kos. I don't have the answer to 'solve' the problem either, but I think that, as Joe says, some people see arming themselves as some sort of 'shortcut' to becoming someone to be reckoned with, so they finally see themselves as a person of consequence. There are other valid reasons why people arm themselves of course (e.g. legitimate self-defence, plus, I used to go target shooting myself, which is a fun sport) but within some people who do so (i.e. dangerous losers like the guy in the casino), I suspect there may be some deeper psychological 'issues' that may not be identified by the standard procedures firearm owners have to pass.

The Wench said...

Honestly, it's how our society is today. People have been conditioned to think that they "deserve" something or their lives are supposed to be perfect or whatever. Like the Walgreen's ad. When they realize that life isn't perfect and crap doesn't always go their way, they snap.

We've created the beast with our, "it's all about me," society.

jennyjinx said...

Firefighter in Cleveland lost his mind and killed three people. Just because his neighbor's wouldn't quiet down.

I gotta tell you, while I'm certainly conscious of the threat of terrorism, I'm not nearly as fearful of it directly affecting my life as I am one of these psychopaths opening fire somewhere my family happens to be.

[...]

Who's studying and planning and counter-planning to end the threat of the angry fucker with a gun?


A-men.

I'm definitely more worried about crazy neighbor's and hotheads in cars ("No, don't flip him the bird! He might have a gun!") than I am of an impending terrorist attack.

PJ said...

Wench says: "We've created the beast with our, "it's all about me," society."

I couldn't agree more, and I especially notice it with so many young people who are catered to because their parents, teachers, and everyone else is so afraid that discipline, limitations, or even normal life disappointment, will harm their precious self-esteem. Makes me want to puke my guts out.

Mark said...

Of course, it's good to know we can always count on our stellar public school system to send the right message about the perils of over-reacting to a given situation...

O' Tim said...

Sounds about right for the state where No Child Left Behind evolved from. Sorry, I mean "was created." Maybe the parents could ask their ex-guv to commute their daughter's sentence.

Lucyp said...

I am not a psychologist but there does seem to be an element of these men (and as you say, is always does seem to be men) who see themselves as downtrodden and who life has dealt a rough hand and they arm themselves with a gun. Maybe the gun makes them feel powerful and gives them a feeling of superiority as they hold the decision of who lives and who dies. A brief moment of the ultimate power before there own death.
Could be the reason why nobody seems to go on a kiling spree armed with a knife.

Don said...

Could be the reason why nobody seems to go on a killing spree armed with a knife.

Ah, but they do. Not as newsworthy though, and usually not as deadly. Also more risk to the perp, who wants to BE in control, not risk LOSING control. But it happens.

I dunno about the "all about me" society thing, though, I mean these guys aren't usually going off cause they can't afford an Escalade, it's cause they're social outcasts and have lost touch with humanity.