I’m very much about finding solutions to prevent mass shootings, preferably without the need for new laws. The truth is, new rules and regulations are likely to bring in a whole bunch of new problems. The Law of Unintended Consequences is a thing, after all.
However, over at Open Source Defense, they have a fascinating post about how other countries have dealt with “rashes” of violent acts not all that dissimilar from the recent spate of mass shootings.
It’s a long post and I can’t even begin to quote all of the relevant bits, but the gist of it is simple.
Contrary to popular belief, the people who commit mass murder aren’t necessarily mentally ill, at least not in the sense of having a diagnosable condition. Some do, but most don’t. So that’s not the common thread.
What is a common thread is that they are almost all frustrated losers. The anguished virgins. The disgruntled husbands who explode and kill the extended family. The racists killing the outgroup that he feels is threatening his ingroup. The religious zealots doing the same. And, for that matter, the impoverished high schooler who kills a classmate after school over some trivial slight, or the husband who kills his wife — both of which, awfully, happen hundreds of times more often than mass shootings.
The shape changes but the mass stays constant: a hopeless loser who feels like he or his group are losing, thinks he spots who’s to blame, and decides he’s going to show everyone that damn it, he’s not the loser that you (and, subconsciously, he) think he is.
The answer, the post suggests, isn’t in new laws but in framing these attackers as another type of loser. The prime example given? ISIS attacks in the United States and Europe.
At one time, ISIS-inspired attacks were a true problem throughout the Western world until, one day, they weren’t. Why? In part because ISIS was losing and no one wanted to be associated with a loser.
The ability to carry out these attacks hasn’t changed. They can still rent trucks and find crowds to plow into, after all. People just aren’t that motivated. Another example was how the Danish city of Arhaus dealt with the problem of young Muslims flocking to join ISIS. They got down to the roots of what was making them disaffected by recruiting community members and making them ambassadors who could reach out to those youths.
They looked for the cause of the problem and dealt with it.
Another example used is the Vienna subway suicides. There was a rash of people jumping in front of subway trains to commit suicide. To counter it, the press changed their phrasing. They avoided sensational headlines that actually encouraged people to see attention in their deaths. The media still reported on it, but they didn’t use certain language. Words are powerful, after all.
The truth is, what we’re dealing with in these mass shootings represents a serious issue, and while some can’t see any potential solution besides gun control, only the willfully blind could possibly believe that’s true. Even most who want to see gun control in place recognize that there are other things that can be done as well.
Maybe it’s time to start doing some of those. You know, just for the hell of it? After all, based on what we’ve seen in other situations, it works.