Here at Bearing Arms, we give the mainstream media a lot of scorn. I’m not likely to change that anytime soon, either. After all, they’re extremely biased against anything perceived as being on the right of the political spectrum, and that includes guns.
As a result, they use that bias to work against gun rights with everything they do.
However, I’m about to share with you all something of a theory of mine. It’s something I’ve been considering for a little while now, and that’s how the media may actually be at least partially to blame for the surge in mass shootings. The other part of the blame may rest with politicians themselves, and not in the way so many anti-gunners like to think.
You see, while mass shootings aren’t exactly new, there does appear to be a noticeable uptick in their frequency.
Over at National Affairs, they took a look at mass shootings in a fairly long piece. What I want to direct your attention to is a graphic a little more than a third of the way down. It lists the presidents and the number of mass shootings during each’s time in the Oval Office. This was published last year, so it’s missing a number of mass shootings during President Trump’s tenure, but it still provides some interesting points.
In particular, we see the number of mass shootings as trickled up over time. Whereas President Johnson only had the University of Texas to worry about, Reagan had three, followed by George H.W. Bush having four, Clinton and George W. Bush having eight each, then Obama with a whopping 24 mass shootings during his time in office.
Trump is shown as having four, but this is as of last year and appears to include Parkland as the most recent. We’ve had far too many since then, to be sure.
What we see is a gradual increase in mass shootings until Obama took office, and then things get ridiculous.
Gun control advocates would argue that the problem is insufficient gun laws, but looking at this era, I’m finding very little evidence to support that. After all, just what major efforts toward the liberalization of gun laws took place during that time? About the only real effort that comes to mind was concealed carry. However, even anti-gun activists will have a difficult time finding evidence that concealed carry leads to mass shooting to any degree.
Besides, the concealed carry effort began long before the Obama administration. The timelines just don’t add up.
Neither do claims that the problem stems from our mental health system. That system hasn’t really changed all that much. Granted, that’s part of the problem. Today, having a mental health issue doesn’t carry the stigma it once did, which means people are willing to seek help than they were in the past. That does create some interesting trouble for the system, but we’re not seeing cases where shooters were seeking help and simply being turned away by an overburdened mental health system.
So what was taking place?
Well, let’s also remember that prior to the Obama administration, politics could be contentious, but it was rarely as divisive as it is today. Democrats and Republicans could still work together on some issues and not automatically face a defeat in their primaries. It was clear that they were opposition, not enemies, for the most part.
Oh, there were exceptions, of course, but by and large, people could still get along despite political differences.
During the Obama administration, that changed. Opposition to Obama’s policies was termed as being racist. Anyone who disagreed with the president was racist or at least racially motivated. We saw the rise of the social justice warrior, people who routinely would weaponize terms like “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” or “transphobic” in an effort to bludgeon people into compliance with their wishes. They strove to shut down conversation and debate, pushing for silence if they could get capitulation.
The media advanced these ideas. The talking head spouted claims of racism. They called opposition to the president “unamerican” and ramped up the animosity with every step. Eventually, Republicans stopped trying to play the loyal opposition and start fighting back. They didn’t really have much of a choice, to be fair. It was either fight back or get trampled on.
Even people who generally didn’t follow politics were feeling the impact. Social media, once a fantastic thing, only spurred this divisiveness and made it more personal. Friendships shattered. Jobs were lost over off-hand comments.
The political fighting created a sense of anxiety that seems to hover over the American people.
Unfortunately, anxiety isn’t good for anyone. Anxiety, as a mental health disorder, can lead to other things.
“[Anger] is rooted in fear, and fear is just another word for anxiety,” says therapist Kayce Hodos, LPC over email. “When we feel threatened, we react with our natural stress response — fight or flight. Those of us who end up fighting often get angry when things don’t go our way. To figure out how to manage your anger, you need to be able to name your fear and learn to take control of what’s lying beneath: anxiety.”
The truth is, a lot of people have good reason to feel threatened at the moment. Still others are feeling it despite not actually being part of the discussion.
Yet we have a quote from the Gilroy shooter that’s telling.
He heard someone shout: “Why are you doing this?” and the reply: “Because I’m really angry.”
Now, I’m not a mental health expert. I know a bit more about the subject than most people due to various reasons, but I’m not remotely an expert. However, I think there’s a point to be made.
One thing we tend to find with mass shooters is that they tend to be domestic abusers. They’re angry people who lash out at even the people they say they love.
Yet what I’m suggesting is that at least part the reason they’re angry is that our society is filled with anxiety due to the media and politicians making every single issue into an existential crisis for the American public. The media, and not just the mainstream media but even yours truly, routinely beats the war drums over almost every issue and now we are at a complete impasse as a society, which only heightens the anxiety as no one is interested in trying to work things out anymore.
Couple that with the media also turning mass shooters into celebrities and you create a recipe for disaster.
Of course, this is just something I’ve come up with based on what I do and what I see and feel. For this to be definitive, it would require actual studies by real experts in the field, something I’m not. The problem is, I’m not sure I actually trust anyone will bother to even look and think about the causes of mass shootings.
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