In trying to decide who is guilty of a murder, investigators look for three factors that converge on the culprit: motive (a reason why the murder was committed), opportunity (the killer had to be in the place and time to carry out the plan and not have an alibi), and means (the killer needs to have access to whatever method was used for the murder). In the case of these mass murders in the US, the motives range all over the place including but not limited to racism, jealousy, anger, frustration, seeking fame, and mental breakdown. Opportunities are also plentiful, especially if you do not care about getting caught and your targets are not specific individuals. You can just wander into a mall, cinema, school, or anywhere large numbers of unsuspecting people are gathered.
But when it comes to means, a single common factor immediately jumps out and that is that these mass murders are possible because the killers had access to a powerful, military-grade assault weapons that enable the killing of large numbers of people in a very short time, so that however quickly the so-called ‘good guys with guns’ respond, it will not be quick enough to prevent a large number of casualties. We saw this in the two recent shootings where armed security were actually around and yet could not prevent the carnage.
Evidence for means as the main factor responsible for these tragedies is plentifully available. In the most recent case in Texas, the gunman legally purchased two rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition just last week, just days after his 18th birthday.
This article reviews just the large number of school shootings alone.
Mass shooters have killed hundreds of people throughout U.S. history in realms like stores, theaters and workplaces, but it is in schools and colleges where the carnage reverberates perhaps most keenly — places filled with children of tender ages, older students aspiring to new heights and the teachers planting the seeds of knowledge, their journeys all cut short.
If a mass shooting is defined as resulting in the death of four or more people, not including the perpetrator, 169 people have died in 14 such events connected to U.S. schools and colleges — from 1999′s Columbine High School massacre to Tuesday’s shooting in Texas. That’s according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, and to other AP reporting
This second article looks at the carnage in just Texas alone.
Once again, one of America’s deadliest mass shootings happened in Texas.
Past shootings targeted worshippers during a Sunday sermon, shoppers at a Walmart, students on a high school campus and drivers on a highway. Among the latest victims were 19 children and two teachers in the small town of Uvalde, west of San Antonio, where on Tuesday a gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in the nation’s deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade.
Each of those tragedies in Texas — which resulted in more than 85 dead in all — occurred in the last five years.
“I can’t wrap my head around it,” said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde. “It’s disturbing to me as a policymaker that we have been able to do little other than create greater access to these militarized weapons to just about anyone who would want them.”
And yet the gun lobby and their political enablers would rather have us focus on all the many varieties of motives, all of which are hard to identify, anticipate, and treat adequately at the best of times, and ignore the obvious problem about the means, a problem that can and should be solved and in fact has been done so by other countries.
At a press conference attended by Texas governor Greg Abbott and other Republican officials, they tried to claim, once again, that mental health was the root cause of the most recent tragedy. But then Beto O’Rourke stood up and told Abbot that this latest shooting is on him because he had done nothing after previous shootings. The people on the platform tried to shout him down.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 25, 2022
After security walked him out,. O’Rourke spoke outside the venue.
O’Rourke is challenging Abbott in the race for governor this year and the civility police are out in force saying that it was rude of him to crash the press conference, though it does not seem to bother them when right wingers behave similarly at school board and election board meetings spouting their crazy conspiracy theories. So what if his behavior was rude? As Tim Murphy writes:
We’re all familiar with this routine by now—the elected officials who descend on the scene in their best emergency-response earth tones to bask in their proximity to law enforcement and collectively absolve everyone with power of any responsibility. People like Abbott and Cruz and Ken Paxton and Dan Patrick—the state’s Republican attorney general and lieutenant governor—will emphasize the “tragedy” of what happened and the unpredictability of it all. There were no obvious signs, Abbott said on Wednesday, not long before O’Rourke’s interruption; law enforcement acted quickly, he said, and saved lives; the assault rifles he acquired shortly before the shootings were, of course, purchased legally. They’ll give a few days of defensive interviews about hiring veterans to stand guard at schools. Maybe, in a few weeks, we’ll get “Uvalde Strong” t-shirts.
Ultimately, the question of whether his intervention Wednesday was polite or not is less important than the fact that O’Rourke is right. The effect, if not the outright point, of events like the one he crashed is to ensure that the right time and the place to discuss gun control never comes—to indulge the delusion that the people who are truly doing nothing are actually doing something. The shooting was predictable, if not in the specific sense, then in the broader one: The state’s and the country’s gun laws enable outcomes such as this by design. If it wasn’t predictable, then why can we keep predicting it?
O’Rourke should not be alone in speaking out like this at public events. I would like to see ordinary people similarly challenging these politicians whenever they come out in public with their mealy-mouthed excuses for why they never do anything.
Reducing the means for such crimes is what we can do something about and until we do, we should treat all talk about motive and opportunity, although they always play a role, as secondary, mainly serving as distractions to shift focus away from the main culprit. After all, the number of potential motives is huge and there is no way that sufficient resources will ever be available to deal with all of them. Also we cannot significantly reduce opportunities. What are we going to do? Put metal detectors and armed guards at every school, church, temple, grocery store, theater, shopping mall, and the like? But the presence of armed guards has not prevented such massacres in the past.
During Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” was drilled into his staff to keep them focused on what was seen as the key issue and not get distracted by other things. In the attempt to reduce mass murders, the driving slogan should be “It’s the guns, stupid!”
Seth Meyers had a good segment on the bogus made up rationale for unlimited gun ownership and what needs to be done to reduce the amount of tragedy.
Jimmy Kimmel got very emotional.