DRC_Larry Beck

Larry Beck

“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” Trump declared following the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. You weren’t alone if this came across as insincere. It’s hard to believe someone who sows division and bigotry with nearly every tweet and at each campaign rally, reveling in the acrimonious chants he incites from the crowd, will genuinely attempt to lessen our nation’s worst nightmare.

The recent carnage in El Paso and Dayton have brought out the usual suspects of what leads an individual to kill large numbers of innocent strangers. They’re usually about anything but the real “common denominator” as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested with violent video games.

Japan and South Korea have a violent video games culture much larger than ours without the closest resemblance to the mass murder epidemic this country experiences.

And Gov. Abbott is one of the many voices that assures us it’s all about mental health issues. No doubt it plays a part, but there is no credible evidence to support that contention as a standalone causal factor.

According to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century, about 65% of mass killers exhibited no evidence of a severe mental disorder; 22% likely had psychosis. “[T]he majority of [mass] killers”, Dr. Stone said, “were disgruntled workers or jilted lovers who were acting on a deep sense of injustice,” not mental illness.

Their deadly handiwork is made easier with the absence of something here in America that other developed nations have — stricter gun laws that make it harder to purchase the weapon of choice of those who want to inflict the quickest and surest damage to life and limb. Guns and evil are their deadliest when countries do little to prevent the purchase of weaponry that’s suited for police SWAT teams and military operations.

Shouts imploring their political leaders to “do something” emanated from Dayton crowds who held vigils to honor the nine killed in their city. It was a sentiment expressed by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah during a serious moment on the Monday following these deadly shootings.

“We’re not saying get rid of guns,” Noah said. “We’re just trying to minimize the chances of this happening. Try to make it as hard as possible for people to own a gun because you only want people who are willing to work hard to own a gun, to own a gun. You only want people who respect a gun to own a gun.”

The NRA of course will turn this into a fearmongering campaign that claims such efforts are more of the same from those who want to “take your Second Amendment rights away.”

But as Mr. Noah concluded, a close look at what the Second Amendment was written for “was fundamentally about protecting human beings, not protecting guns.”

It is not only the lack of political will by our elected officials who either share or cave to the fears generated by gun lobbyists, but it is the electorate who put them there and fails to demand the kind of sane gun control that every other developed nation has implemented.

Until enough people have the courage to silence the racial and hate rhetoric along with calling out the NRA leadership for its unequivocal support for the gun industry, the deaths of those in El Paso and Dayton will fade into the obscurity of other mass shootings that now amount to at least one a day into a purely American gun culture that’s become so pervasive in this country.

LARRY BECK is a longtime Denton resident, native Texan and political activist.

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