“Kamala Harris calls for assault weapons ban.”

Democrats are going to get the crap beaten out of them in congress. It won’t pass, but if it did, I would not expect the supreme court to uphold it.

“Never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake” said Talleyrand. And that’s what this is. We’ve all been yelling “do something do something!” and the democrats have just launched an effort they know won’t get past congress, and they know it wouldn’t do anything anyway – this is Putin-level strategic brilliance.

I appear to have a strategy that might actually work but I dont think I have the GAF to write it up. It’s also possibly just my brain is scrambled. Watching these events is painful in terms of the pointless deaths and trauma, as well as the strategic stupidity that is on display. We truly are a decadent and evil failed state. “Evil” is a word I don’t use very often, but it’s the right word in this situation. I want to scream into my pillow.

Oddly, the difficulty of organizing my thoughts seems to make me happier with them. There is a whole domain of questions about how our minds assess the quality of our own thought. What if my (temporary?) scatter-brainedness makes me overrate a mediocre idea that normal Marcus would have consigned to the waste-bin? What if I’m not even making sense?

Anyhow, it does not seem possible that an incredibly wealthy superpower can’t do anything to reduce (not prevent! If we demand prevention we’ll overspend on pre-emptive violence) this problem. It seems to me that the problem – and why we’re failing – is because we are asking the wrong questions. Why are we talking about the guns? There are more guns in the US than Americans – they are a permanent factor in our reality, thanks to our super brilliant founding fathers, who turned out to be hypocritical, incompetent, evil, monsters. So “good job, guys!” Lets move on.

What we need to understand is not “what is an assault rifle?” but rather “what makes mass shooters decide to do this?” And, we actually know most of the answers. For example, there is an 80% comorbidity with domestic violence. Since domestic violence is generally under-reported, the comorbidity will be more than 80%. “Merde alors!” as they say in the civilized world.

Here is another thing: after it’s way too late, there are always people who come forward and say “yeah, we thought he was going to snap.”

Other comorbidity: it’s men. Being a spree-shooter is entirely a male problem. And, since most guns in the US are owned by white guys, we can start to see some clusters aound the problem.

Most of these shootings involve a school, and the shooter has a relationship with the school. The shooters are not honors students or glee club members, they’ve got problems with their relationship to the school and their classmates and usually their parents. Many shooting sprees start with the shooter killing parents. That’s a seriously significant comorbidity.

Also, since we’re trying to look at mass shootings scientifically, lets put the cops on the table. If you look at cops that wind up killing people you find: white guys, domestic violence. Female cops have been trained to spray bullets (that is, literally, how they are trained) but it’s the male cops that are the main problem.

Why then are we trying to define and ban “assault rifles” when we already know that the problem is domestic violence victims or perpetrators, generally males? Why are we spending money on more violence – teach teachers to kill – instead of spending money figuring out what these domestic violence situations are, and trying to keep people from deciding to shoot people. It doesn’t help anyone, and even they know it. So what is it? A gesture of despair, maybe. A bullied kid thinking “It’s a perfect day to throw back your head, and kiss it all goodbye?” How do we interrupt the triggering event that results in the decision?

Lastly, it turns out, always (or nearly) after the fact that there are social media nodes in which the shooting is discussed before it happens and there are people who say “oh, yah, we all knew he was gonna snap.” The FBI spent billions backdooring facebook and everyone’s comms and they are watching for “allah akbar” and are left holding their dicks after the shooting because they even checked the shooter out, but didn’t want to trample his rights, or something like that.

That, my friends, is really sick: they’re worried about trampling the mass shooter’s rights while they’ve established a remarkable surveillance regime that also monitors the prospective victims. Isn’t the most evil, weird, thing? We keep hearing about how the FBI investigated a shooter but they didn’t do anything. What the fuck is the FBI FOR?!

Triggers: the shooters get on social media and start pumping themselves up to do it. There are people on social media chat rooms that listen to some jackass work himself up to shoot a bunch of jews. Those people need to be in a hospital. But the triggers are there – if some racist can be watching a potential shooter’s live-stream why is there no mechanism to call the FBI and have a chat with the shooter, while the tactical team deploys at the target site so they have a nice crossfire?

Alright. Pile up the comorbidities and our problem is not AR-15s its white males that are victims of bullying or domestic violence. Then there are triggering events – not a wide variety. And monitor for the spin up. And actually go talk to these people and give them a bit of “hey buddy can we talk?”

We just threw $60bn at Ukraine, a trillion $ at Afghanistan, billions destroying Yemen and we can’t do something as obvious and basic as wiping our ass?!

Get me out of here.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Glad to see you posting today, Marcus. I am sure you didn’t have the most restful night of sleep, but, one day at a time.
    “There are more guns in the US than Americans – they are a permanent factor in our reality, ”
    Weeeell, maybe not forever. Cops in Sacramento had a gun surrender where you could get a $50 gas card in exchange for a handgun or an AR. Their supply of cards that was supposed to last all day ran out in 50 minutes. And just because Dad spent his retirement fund on a mega-arsenal doesn’t mean his kids will want to keep it after Daddy is packed off to the nursing home, especially if the government could give them something of value for it.

  2. says

    By the way: I did that to see how I write, and also you are welcome to compare it to my normal flow; I’m curious.

    To me, that does not read like me. (Wail) my brain may be borked

  3. lochaber says

    I feel like some sort of reduction in firearms, both absolute numbers and accessibility, would lessen the frequency and magnitude of mass shootings like this. However, due to the political climate, I can’t see any way legislation achieving that reduction would happen in the next couple decades.

    I haven’t seen it since it was released, and am wondering how it holds up, but I’m reminded of Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine”. what I remember is him looking at the general attitudes, fear, and paranoia of so many U.S. firearm owners.

    And also of Chris Hedge’s “Empire of Illusion”, where he tries to point out that none of us are Hollywood Action Heroes, revenge fantasies are stupid and bad, etc.

    There’s a lot tied up with toxic masculinity, and firearms being a status symbol and identity marker. And I feel there is a certain amount of anti-left contrarianism, where if the left supports something, those on the right must necessarily oppose it, so that in a less stupid world, people who may be pretty neutral, uninterested in firearms, and only mildly sexist, are loudly embracing racism, misogyny, and violence.

    I have a lot of thoughts about this whole tangled mess of a topic, but I don’t really have them well organized, or even fully understand how they connect to each other. This most recent event, I’m most angry at the cops, both for their inaction, and for preventing others from taking action.

  4. Tethys says

    Ugh, I too agree with the basic idea, but Dems are really awful at messaging and driving the narrative.

    Instead of putting the focus on banning the guns that clearly need banning, they should be talking about gun safety and protecting innocent American babies. Wave a damn flag and eat some pie, whatever! Just avoid getting into yet another endless debate with the gun lobby people who claim they need that much firepower.

    Most of the population is in favor of regulating the murder weapons. Dems should stop playing nice, and start using the term Baby-killers for the entire gun lobby. It’s merely a coincidence that most of the baby killers happen to be republicans.

  5. Tethys says

    To me, that does not read like me. (Wail) my brain may be borked

    It is slightly more stream of consciousness, and less tightly edited, but clearly you.

    You need to allow your brain some time to recover. It may well be busy repairing itself, and your processing might take longer simply because you only have so much metabolic energy.

    I experience ‘cannot brain’ any time I let my blood sugar get too low. My brain simply stops being able to remember or focus, because it’s out of fuel.

  6. Dunc says

    It’s a classic screening problem – sure, you’ve identified some indicators which are very reliable in retrospect, but those indicators are really quite common, and it’s only a tiny proportion (I would guess substantially less than 1%) of the individuals exhibiting the full set who actually go on to become mass shooters. Your indicators aren’t sufficiently predictive.

    It’s a bit like screening for prostate cancer – almost everybody who gets prostate cancer will exhibit elevated PSA levels, but only a small minority of people with elevated PSA actually develop cancer, so if you try use it to do population-level screening, the overwhelming majority of positives are false, and all the biopsies you end up doing to investigate them risk causing more problems than they prevent.

    Which is not to say that it wouldn’t perhaps be a good idea to try and mount some kind of intervention for people exhibiting all of those indicators you identify, but modern American society being what it is, I think you’re going to have some logistical problems…

  7. Jazzlet says

    I agress with Tethys, a little more stream of consciouness than your usual posts, but still recognisably you – give your brain some time.

    To pick up on Dunc’s point there are a couple of related indictors that you should add in, abuse of animals, and abuse of female relatives. If (a huge if) you screened for those men and treated them you would also have the win of reducing animal and domestic violence – you would in fact win bigger in treating all of those men as there would be fewer domestic violence deaths. While the mass shootings hit the headlines in outright numbers more people are killed as a result of domestic violence than in mass shootings. Especially as domestic violence includes some events that would otherwise be classed as mass shootings.

  8. says

    No, Dunc’s right.
    Geeze, and I used to build intrusion detection systems.

    Shoot. Looking at it as a public health problem makes it extra fun if republicans oppose it – they’d have to stand up and say “no mental health for DV kids! No mental health for PTSD veterans!” The electorate might wake up and vaporize them

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    … mass shooters … there is an 80% comorbidity with domestic violence.

    As Dunc points out @ # 6 & Marcus Ranum concurs @ # 8, the correlation runs one way: 80% of mass shooters may have committed domestic violence, but I doubt even .08% go on to mass shootings (we have a lot of DV going down).

    But … take away guns and gun rights from DV perps, and I predict both stats will decline steeply.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    Good to see you posting.

    Most of these shootings involve a school

    If by “these shootings” you mean school shooting, that scores a “duh”. If by “these shootings” you mean MASS shootings, then that’s just false. Most mass shootings DON’T happen at schools, it’s just that quite a few of the REALLY BIG ones, and really newsworthy ones (only in America is there such a thing as a non-newsworthy mass shooting…) are in schools.

    Improving mental health provision FOR MEN would go a long way to help this sort of thing. Good luck getting a male-gender-specific health-improving measure past either the right OR the left in the US.

  11. Tethys says

    It is a public health crisis when the #1 cause of death for toddlers and children in the USA is guns. That’s simply horrific, and the Dems need to laser focus on that reality.

  12. billseymour says

    Glad to see you’re back. I agree with others that it basically sounds like you, except that you’re usually more restrained.  Go with it though…I think it was a good read.

    I agree that we need to identify the potential mass shooters; and if they usually begin with rants on social media as is claimed, then identifying them shouldn’t be hard.  There was a story on today’s NBC Nightly News to the effect that there could be some compromise in Congress that allows passing a law that identifies “psychological problems”.  It can’t directly mention white males with histories of domestic violence since Republicans would certainly vote against that, so it would have to be more general, but it could still require specific action when a potential culprit is identified.  OTOH, Republicans will likely vote against anything proposed by Democrats regardless of content; but we can hope.

    But it’s not an either-or…I think it would be a good idea to ban specific weapons that have no use for, e.g., hunting.  Unfortunately, that’s not gonna happen.

    (FYI, on rereading this, I think your thoughts were better organized than mine.)

  13. lanir says

    I wouldn’t worry too much about this post in particular sounding like you normally do. You’re not normally stressed out worrying about your situation. And most of the topics you post about don’t have the same frustration, anger, and terror wrapped up in them that gun control does.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve only met one couple I know was involved with domestic violence. They were both white and not married. I think he hit her or grabbed her or something along those lines. I wasn’t there. She thought it was really serious and she was scared. He thought it wasn’t a big deal and she was exaggerating how much he was threatening her. Later, he talked about wanting to use a gun to resolve the issue. He mentioned this around a few people. Everyone told him no, that was not the answer. It would never be the answer. Nothing like it would ever possibly in any strange twist of fate be an okay option. It was a terrible idea with life-shattering consequences even if he didn’t fire a shot. And a lot more along those lines.

    It seemed to work. He stopped talking about guns and some years later they got together again. Except for possibly that last part, I guess that means we were good friends, maybe to both of them. Last I knew he had gone through a quite surprising amount of character growth and was acting like a responsible adult. And she seemed happy to be with him.

    Seems odd to think about it now but that wasn’t the only time I talked someone down while they were trying to psyche themselves up to shoot someone or blow something up. I am so fucking glad I’m not dirt poor and stuck in the middle of nowhere with no good prospects. Living that life sucked and it stressed everyone out because everyone around me was stuck in the same situation.

  14. says

    Beau’s been saying the same thing.

    He’s awesome. His analysis is consistently brilliant, his delivery is clear and tight and he even throws in some humor to help win his audience. I’m not fond of his “aw, shucks” routine – the man is brilliant – but he’s got the strategic sense to adapt to American anti-intellectualism.

    He puts a huge amount of effort into his channel, but it looks like “just some guy.” A real gem.

  15. seachange says

    Measure twice, cut once. Always have the right tool for the job, if you can get it. Adapt safely if you can’t. Words: they are tools.

    For whatever reason you usually attempt to hide your moral anarchism. You also as part of your maker and crafter style attempt to mark with words what you are doing as rational and also to use words to mark what you are doing as logical. You do this knowing full well most people hold a particular moral view, even if it isn’t true and you don’t believe this.

    For whatever reason you do your military posts (this is not one) with the idea that most people willingly accept that all that wasted money and hegemonic adventurism is what is needed to defend us, even though it isn’t true and you don’t believe this.

    Measure twice, cut once… … … does a cynic say this?

    You took what would have been a very very long post or two to three posts and chopped all of that usual stuff out. So yeah it reads like it’s still you really you the marcus, but it is not in your posting style.
    I had a friend who had one of those raspberry cancers in his brain. Talking to him after he lost chunks of function, still him. It was like looking in a shattered mirror sometimes though.

  16. says

    I think there’s also a deep current in American culture that says your problems are yours, deal with them yourself. You don’t like black people? Don’t like jews? You think the schools are indoctrinating kids? Pick up a gun.

    In other cultures, community or political action is a possibility, but when you have to fix all of the shit yourself, what are you going to do except pick up the biggest, most dangerous firearm you can lay your hands on and go to work?

    Of course, since most of these people are cowards they rarely decide to go hog wild anyplace there’s likely to be anyone shooting back. Rarely hear of a mass shooting at a police station or an army base, though they do happen.

    As far as your brain is concerned, I think you are always and only you. Change is inevitable, and there’s no sense holding on to an ideal version of yourself which may have never existed.

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