Mass Shootings and American Carnage


W.J. Astore

What can you say about mass shootings in America that hasn’t already been said?  El Paso and Dayton (not Toledo, Mr. Trump) are the most recent in a seemingly unending series of shootings in America.  A grim statistic:

“Dayton was the 22nd mass killing in America this year, according to an AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database, which tracks all attacks involving four or more people killed.”

Or, alternatively: “The shooting in Ohio marked the 31st deadly mass shooting in America this year, defined as those where at least three people are killed by gun violence in a single episode.”

Or, alternatively:

“As of today (Aug. 4), we are 216 days into 2019. In the US over that time, more than 1,300 people have been injured or killed in mass shootings, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.

Injuries and deaths related to mass shootings.

The nonprofit organization, which is based in Washington, DC, defines a mass shooting as an event in which at least four people were shot. By its calculations, that means there have been some 292 mass shootings in the US since the year began.”

In a prepared statement this morning, President Trump came out against white supremacy, racism, and bigotry, but tragically this is a clear case of “Do what I say, not what I do” for Trump.  He compounded his hypocrisy by ignoring the ready availability of assault weapons, blaming instead mental illness and violent video games, among other factors.

Firstly, the mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.  Secondly, violent video games are a global phenomenon, but I’m not reading about dozens of mass shootings each year in Japan or Korea or Sweden.

Trump’s weak-willed words were thoroughly predictable; he’s closely aligned with the National Rifle Association and its total fixation on gun rights to the exclusion of all others.  He’s not alone in this.  When I taught in rural Pennsylvania, my students knew all about the Second Amendment.  But their knowledge of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments was far weaker.  Yes, for many Americans guns really do trump free speech, freedom of the press, and similar rights.

Predictably, Americans search for a magic bullet (pun intended) after these horrifying massacres to put a stop to them.  How about better background checks?  Eliminating extended magazines for the millions of assault rifles that are already in the hands of Americans?  Better databases to track the mentally ill and the criminally violent?  And so on.  And we should have better background checks before you can buy a gun; we should stop selling military-style hardware; we should keep better track of dangerous people.  But steps such as these will only stem the violence (if that).  They won’t put an end to it.

Our culture is suffused with violence.  At the same time, powerful forces are at play (stoked by our very own president) to divide us, to inflame our passions, to turn us against them, where “them” is some category of “other,” as with the El Paso shooter, who targeted immigrants “invading” America.

To stop mass shootings, we must change our culture of violence.  This is made much more difficult by men like Trump, who’ve embraced violent rhetoric for their own selfish purposes.  But we must change it nonetheless, else witness more carnage across America.

Note to readers: This is not the first time I’ve written about violence and guns in America.  Here are links to a few articles on this subject at Bracing Views:

God, Country, Guns

Guns and Grievances

“People Who Cherish the Second Amendment”

America: Submerged in a Violent Cesspool

Lockdown America and School Shootings

10 thoughts on “Mass Shootings and American Carnage



  2. WOW! But rants are not my thing. I dislike guns, yet I still respect the 2nd Amendment . It was put in to protect Americans from the British! Today we can’t let go of it. These shootings I’m very suspicious of – scare Americans into “gun control”. What does that mean? Only police officers are allowed guns to protect say, Trump, Billary, Biden?
    If that’s the case, which I think it is, then the Founding Fathers were even MORE right! Guns to protect us from our “leaders”! Lol


    How the world grieves for you!

    You have grown so big and so powerful so quickly. And somehow your childish clothes don’t look good on you any more.

    ‘Violence – look, we live in a violent world, man. This country was founded on violence. Who’s kidding who?’ So said die hard Bruce Willis, as though that makes it OK.

    In the film ‘Hearts and Minds’, General William Westmoreland famously stated: ‘The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is cheap in the Orient.’


    Pure projection. It is the American that does not value life, and the evidence is all around you.

    You Americans live in a culture of death, though you use euphemisms aplenty to disguise it. We don’t need to look at gun deaths: just witness road traffic accident deaths running at 30,000 to 50,000 per annum. And if that isn’t good enough, how about deaths by medical error at between 250,000 and 440,000 a year. And this in the country that boasts the most expensive medical services in the world! I can throw in a lot more if you wish – like drugs, alcohol, suicide, obesity …

    Mass shootings are the least of your worries.

    As they say, you can’t make this stuff up!

    And, not satisfied with killing yourselves and fellow Americans, you insist on spreading this abroad. It is called promoting American values. By one reckoning, the USA is responsible for 20,000,000 deaths by violence throughout the world (outside America) since the end of WWII. Living in SE Asia, which witnessed a goodly proportion of that 20 million, I can tell you that the rest of the world is heartily sick of it all and wishes that the USA would just stay home and focus on its own problems. That is not simply a personal opinion but is shared by many others whom international opinion polls say view the USA as the greatest threat to peace and security in the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “I’ve not come to bring peace but a sword” seems to be our favorite Bible passage. And we take it literally.


  4. Here is my take on the 2nd Amendment. We have people that think the 2nd Amendment cannot be altered by any restrictive laws. We can go back to the 1st Amendment and see that argument, that the 2nd Amendment cannot be restricted is fallacious.

    The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Seems pretty clear. However over the years freedom of speech, or the press has been restricted or limited. We have laws against libel and slander. We have laws like Truth in Lending, Truth in Advertising, Truth in Savings, etc. The FDA at least it supposed to force disclosure of ingredients.

    I have the Right to peacefully assemble. I cannot round up 200 followers and peacefully assemble and block an Interstate Highway with out having to face legal repercussions.

    At least in my mind the Second Amendment can be restricted.

    Think back to when the Second Amendment was written. The primary infantry firearms of that era were single shot muskets and pistols. By the end of the Civil War (1865), the single shot musket or rifle was still the primary infantry weapon of war.

    Fast forward to 1945, the machine gun, sub-machine gun, carbine and assault rifles had been invented for military use. These weapons had one purpose to kill enemy soldiers, i.e., fellow human beings more efficiently. Stepping back a bit to after WW1, during the 1920’s and 1930’s some how sub-machines and BAR’s found their way into the hands of criminals.

    The big aircraft companies after WW2, would continue to build military aircraft, demand was low. These companies compensated for the lack of military sales by developing commercial aircraft.

    The small arms manufacturers with a far smaller Army and Marine Corp after WW 2, found a lucrative market in arming civilians. It seems there were no controls over the type of weapons that could be sold. It was a bit of a scandal when it was revealed Oswald killed JFK with a mail order rifle.

    We have the Gun Control Act of 1968: In his remarks upon signing the act in October 1968,
    LBJ said,

    “Congress adopted most of our recommendations. But this bill—as big as this bill is—still falls short, because we just could not get the Congress to carry out the requests we made of them. I asked for the national registration of all guns and the licensing of those who carry those guns. For the fact of life is that there are over 160 million guns in this country—more firearms than families. If guns are to be kept out of the hands of the criminal, out of the hands of the insane, and out of the hands of the irresponsible, then we just must have licensing. If the criminal with a gun is to be tracked down quickly, then we must have registration in this country. The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful lobby, a gun lobby, that has prevailed for the moment in an election year.”


  5. Is all this symptomatic of these Bible Prophecies in the Revelation of Jesus Christ? The Revelation is when it can be seen unfolding in this Material World.

    And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
    Revelation 11:18

    It is increasingly evident the Nations are angry and getting angrier with wars and rumors of wars, both military and economic.
    We are being bombarded daily with the warning Humans are destroying earth’s environment and the earth which may be ready to cast us off.

    Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    Revelation 12:12

    The mass shootings may be the evidence of the last Bible verse happening, but who can discern which wrath is which from the 2 Bible verses?


Comments are closed.