Don’t Wish Away Mass Shootings: On Grits, Guns And God

mass shooting oct 1 2015 oregon image jason dias gun righs nra
Written by Jason Dias

Stop just wishing for the mass shootings to end. It’s time you do something, anything. Don’t pray about it. Here’s what you ought to do, says Jason Dias. Commentary.

aNewDomainjason-dias-anewdomain-amazon-kindle — I know I’m always ranting about selfish Americans who are more concerned about their own individual liberties than with the safety, welfare or civil rights of all us other Americans. Case in point: Open-carry terrorists who insist it’s okay to bring AK-47s to Walmart. 

After the October 1 Oregon shooting, Obama said prayers are not enough to deal with such tragedies. 

I think they’re worse than not enough: I think they’re counterproductive. 

It isn’t enough to acknowledge our liberal guilt and feel bad. Those bad feelings have to lead to action. 

The problem with prayer is it might make you think like you’ve accomplished something.

Take this massive prayer meeting held this summer in Houston.

Gov. Perry organized it so people could pray about climate change, among other things. Climate change continued unabated, but these nice people whose farms and ranches have been lost to drought can go on thinking they did something about it since they just bowed their heads for a few moments.

What bullshit.

If my house catches fire in the night, please don’t pray for me. Come out here and fucking help me out. Carry water, help me get my kid out of there and to some place safe. What good is praying when your house is burning down?

And if I get sick and can’t afford to pay the surgeon, please don’t pray for me. Send my family money.

prayer mass shootings gun rights nraClimate change is killing us. It’s killing all of us, now. Denying it and praying about it does nothing. Do something. Anything. Even voting might help.

As for the gun problem, no matter where you stand politically on the issue, it’s obvious to everyone that guns are killing our children. 

I know you feel powerless about all that. I do, too. Sometimes we pray to a Higher Power because we can’t think of anything else to do. 

But the thing is, there are things we can do.

It’s pretty easy, really. Some folks think gun regulations would work. I’m a little less sure but we’re in an extreme situation right now. 

I mean, look at the data,  This is some serious shit, man. 

One thing we know about extremes is they are subject to regression to the mean: Overall, there’s a tendency for non-average scores to grow closer to average on subsequent measurements. Almost anything you do accelerates the effect. That’s why makers of drugs like Lipozene ask for the heaviest people to participate in their studies.

mass shootings prayer prayer won't help gun laws gun rights nraIn other words, people who argue against gun control say that controlling firearm sales will just make it so only criminals will get guns, and that legislation promotes a black market and empowers criminals.  

But, to reduce massacres like the ones we’ve become used to seeing in churches, schools and malls, we’ve got to do something as opposed to doing nothing or, alternatively, just praying, which is just the same thing. Controlling guns is more likely to help than useless alternatives to reduce the numbers of children and other innocents killed in such tragendies. It’s more likely to induce at least some level of change than doing nothing at all or just praying on it.

Want to protect your kids against violence? Then do something about it. Get educated. Write a law.

Filmmaker Michael Moore thinks the problem is Fox News and CNN. It’s 24-hour international news channels leading with the bleeding, which terrifies us, paralyzes us and divides us. So fine, start there. Simple regulations on what goes over our transmission systems could reduce some of this. Because most of the media is run or owned by corporate interests and can’t seem to do this themselves, find ways to require that news be true, verifiable. That means multiple sources and, if opinions are brought in, only scholarly opinions. 

Other nations do this handily without intruding on freedom. Freedom requires good information. 

News stations that lie, sensationalize and cherry-pick stories, they limit our freedom. Because we only know what they want us to know. You can’t know about what you don’t know, of course. So yeah, start there, if you want. Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Let’s regress to the mean.

And truly, there’s an action-based solution available to every one of us that’s even simpler. It’s to just start loving each other. Love, not the feeling but the verb, is the act of putting the needs of others over the needs of the self. In other words, I have the right to fill my house with military-grade weaponry but I don’t do that, because I care more about you than about me. I care more about the imaginary murderer we’re all so frightened of than about self-defense. I’d rather die than kill.

Listen, the open-carry people largely have been brainwashed. The NRA used to be about promoting safe gun use but it isn’t anymore. Just a cursory look at what that organization has become shows you it is now all about promoting the profits of the gun companies who support them. The good, honest people who joined before the switch from a safety-focused organization to a profit-seeking one are just loyal. But they’re loyal to something that exists no more.

Of course, when the NRA tells them their rights are being threatened, they believe it; when they hear that guns keep them safe, they believe it. But it’s delusional, cognitive dissonance stuff.

Guns don’t keep you safe. Even if they did, the gun that is keeping you individually safe is putting everyone else in danger. 

Yet many Americans keep voting for the right to not get vaccines that protect all of us, to carry weapons that do not promote your safety but endanger all of us, to eat meat and drive cars that are changing the climate, to pour more coal byproducts into the sky — all to save your shitty job.

I teach psychology at a community college. My wife asked me last night, do you have shooting drills? Her elementary school does. They have active-shooter drills and lock-downs. Routinely.

When I go to work every day, when my students come to class to try to better themselves – taking active steps to get an education, play by the rules, work hard, to participate in the American dream – there’s a reason we have to watch the doors. 

There’s a reason we alert to loud noises in the hallways. 

There’s a reason my wife worries for me and I for her, and why we both worry so much about the safety of our young son.

That’s because most Americans are just so fucking selfish.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Cover image of a body being taken from the site of the Oregon school mass shooting on Oct 1, 2015: KFLY.com, All Rights Reserved. Gov. Rick Perry at prayer: MotherJones.com, All Rights ReservedTexans at prayer: TheGuardian.com, All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

  • As for the gun problem, … it’s obvious to everyone that guns are killing our children.

    [P]eople who argue against gun control say that controlling firearm sales will just make it so only criminals will get guns, and that legislation promotes a black market and empowers criminals.

    But, to reduce massacres like the ones we’ve become used to seeing in churches, schools and malls, we’ve got to do something as opposed to doing nothing or, alternatively, just praying, which is just the same thing. Controlling guns is more likely to help than useless alternatives to reduce the numbers of children and other innocents killed in such tragendies. It’s more likely to induce at least some level of change than doing nothing at all or just praying on it.

    You really earned a PsyD? That’s an honest question, not a thinly-veiled insult.

    The reason I’m asking it is that I learned, in my grotty old PhD program, that those who illegally kill many people fall into one of two categories: serial-killer psychopaths, who typically prefer knives because their victims last longer that way, and the desperate souls suffering from psychotic terror, or the psychotic desire for revenge, who commit the “mass” homicides. If I learned that back in the pre-PsyD era, then surely you did too.

    Are you just writing faster than you think? Or are you another propagandist? Because, of course, guns are NOT killing our children. Individuals who should be in residential care are doing that. Those people often use guns, but the guns themselves are volitionless tools, and getting rid of them will not get rid of the psychoses that drive the killing. The individuals who killed 168 people and wounded almost 700 more used home-made ANFO explosive, not guns.

    Trained people like yourself should be advocating for re-opening the asylums and providing high-quality residential care. Keeping the dangerously delusional in secure, low-stress environments will prevent mass killings; getting rid of firearms will not.