Until much more information is revealed, we don’t really know why the gunman in Aurora murdered 12 people and injured 71 more. But what we do know is that it’s a lot easier to murder many people with guns than knives or baseball bats (although you can do that too). What I do not understand is why people are shocked anymore. Not only are gun-involved massacres common, in general, the U.S. has been and is an incredibly violent society:
In case you’re having a hard time reading the vertical axes, they’re all to the same scale, and the U.S. is the bottom right figure. American Exceptionalism at its finest.
Given that we are an exceptionally violent society, the obvious solution would be to limit access to guns, especially those guns that whose primary purpose is to kill people.
Yes, the overwhelming percentage of guns are not used to kill people. But if you have enough guns, and enough violent people with access to those guns, massacres are inevitable. To deny otherwise would be like arguing that even if people don’t get their pertussis shots, we won’t have whooping cough outbreaks. We’ve tried that. Hasn’t worked so well.
What will be infuriating during the next week is that there will be no explicit statements by Very Serious People that we have decided that the occasional murder spree is an acceptable component of U.S. life, even though we have done exactly that:
The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country—Canada, Norway, Britain—has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do—as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue…
Make sure that guns designed for no reason save to kill people are freely available to anyone who wants one—and that is, and remains, the essential American condition—and then be shocked when children are killed.
So what’s the over/under on how long it takes to disappear yet another massacre of children down the memory hole?