More mass murder in the United States. Here’s a take that is seldom considered.
There are about 250 million Americans age 15 and older today. And Robert Hare, renowned scholar of pathological personalities, estimates that 1 percent of any population is pathological. He further speculates that about one-quarter of those are potentially violent and without conscience.
That means that any given day, over 600,000 violent psychopaths age 15 and up are on the loose in the United States, and waiting for the right trigger to set them off. These types of psychopaths can burst onto the scene because, by their natural ability to remain hidden, they are almost always “a quiet, helpful guy who never bothered anybody and rescued my cat from my tree.”
First, science needs to sort out the neurological mechanisms that inflame the violent tendencies of certain of these personalities, so that they can be identified. They do leave tells, and often these are deep-seated anger or disappointment manifested by domestic violence, hateful belief systems or religious, and political and racial bigotry. More mental health wisdom and resources must be delivered to identify and treat those with potentially aggressive, angry and unconscionable personality disorders. And yet, the current administration is cutting funding to health care across the board, including a 20 percent cut to mental health research.
Second, political activism must do something about this tinderbox of potential human volatility caused by the fact that Americans own more than one-third of all the guns possessed by individuals on the planet (irrespective of the fact that only three percent of the population owns 50 percent of the guns).
This laissez faire scrutiny of the pathological, together with ready, rapid-fire triggers, has been exacerbated by the current political climate of divisiveness, as well as the conceit among American males that associates gun ownership and use with masculinity and independence. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun advisories believe balls come with firearms and swagger, a trope portrayed regularly in American “action” movies.
Time’s Richard Lacayo explained in a 1990 feature about the group that “The NRA was founded in 1871 by a group of former Union Army officers dismayed that so many Northern soldiers, often poorly trained, had been scarcely capable of using their weapons.” This of course put their lives in danger as soldiers or members of a militia. Col. William C. Church, in an August 1871 issue of the Army and Navy Journal, cited the success of Britain’s National Rifle Association and Wimbledon riflery tournament range. He had originally proposed that the National Guard organize such a club, but he would ultimately turn to private enterprise, where expediency and entrepreneurship could realize the club more quickly. In the mid-20th century, the 2nd Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” wording would become an NRA rallying cry that amounted to a “pop in every chicken.” And it has perverted the 2nd Amendment’s original intent into something off the charts of common sense.
How could the brilliant Founding Fathers, products of the Enlightenment, men of learning and culture, country gentlemen, sages and scientists, have so casually conceived a declaration as broad and unqualified as the 2nd Amendment to the admired and often emulated federal constitution – a declaration giving everyone in the nation the right to own firearms and eventually shoot everything from game to anybody wearing hoodies?
It’s 1790, the War for Independence is over, and the Constitution is being amended with the addition of a Bill of Rights, which includes, as many put it, “the indiscriminate right to bear arms.” (Which it doesn’t.)
The 2nd Amendment was originally intended to authorize the arming of militias to fend off invaders and protect individual communities from enemies, given that governance up to that time under the British meant governing bodies could disarm you, which of course is the first thing the British did when colonial rebellion struck. In this context, the idea of local post-Revolutionary War militias never caught on with any degree of dedication or even organization, because militia membership was often a tedious, low-paying job that interfered with a man’s personal and family life and the time he could spend in the local tavern.
It was post war. Men were tired of fighting. And what do men do who are tired of fighting? They have babies, lots of babies. So there was a baby boom, and wives said, forget the rocking chairs, “Get ye posterior out there and feed this family!” So militia recruits were in rather short supply.
Muskets’ reputation for reliability was a common and universal joke. Muskets seldom hit anything beyond a few yards away, at least not intentionally. During the War for Independence, British soldiers were more likely to be killed during a pillow fight than by a musket ball. (Remember Alexander Dumas’s Musketeers? Dashing. Clever. You ever see them depicted with muskets? Possibly only if their enemy was sitting in his living room napping.
Given the useless musket, the idea of firearm proliferation seemed innocuous to our early political leadership for as long as 70 years after the “innocent” 2nd Amendment was conceived, when the first breach-loading Springfield rifle was invented.
What does this mean? It means the 2nd Amendment was conceived around the surety that nothing dangerous or insidious could come of the right to bear arms.
So the vote was in, an all-male vote, of course. Let everybody snap up a weapon, hang it over every hearth to look tough and prepared, and then if you really want to hunt and succeed, learn to use a bow and arrow.
What could go wrong!
Big money behind a big industry that pandered to small phalluses.