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American culture, alarmingly, has evolved into an engine for producing crazy gunmen, often masked, armored, dressed in black and armed like a one man SWAT team. They attack innocent gatherings of harmless people, striking out of nowhere, with less purpose, it would seem, than even a terrorist. This has happened three times, just this year, just between the 4th of July and Christmas, at an Oregon shopping mall, a Colorado movie theater and, most recently and tragically, the Connecticut elementary school.

Who the hell are these Ninja Assholes? Why now? Why so many?

I have found an assortment of ideas about what is causing this behavioral phenomenon in diaries here at the GOS. Follow me into the tall grass for some other Kossacks' thinking and some more discussion.

Meteor Blades, or, as I fancy him, consiglierieri to Markos' Don Corleone, except without the crimes . . . anyway, Meteor Blades, in this post finds ample complicity in the shamelessly exploitative and antisocial tone of the gun mongers' advertisements for their instruments of death. Riffing off a post by Mother Jones, Meteor Blades concluded,

Other nations, our neighbors to the north in Canada, for instance, have stricter gun laws with per capita gun ownership about one-third as high as in the United States. But the number of gun murders there are not one-third as high. They are 1/100th as high. As gun-owners and other Americans join to fight the gun extremists, we need to work together to undermine the values and other factors behind those statistics.

No single law or handful of them will alone achieve the result the vast majority of Americans desire, which is never ever again to be greeted by news like that which crushed our spirit Friday. Success will instead require a long-term commitment to reformatting our current approach to violence and gun safety across a range of public policies. Rooting out the attitudes that produced those ads above will not be accomplished overnight. But they must be demolished if we are to reduce the violence that plagues us.

Those exposed to that kind of "sick and twisted" advertising, propaganda, really, may find themselves desensitized, at best, and incited, at worst, to dangerously antisocial attitudes specifically associated with the use of firearms. But MB also knows that this is an extremely complex issue with many stakeholders, that will not lend itself to quick fixes.

A suggestion that the problem may be pharmacological, rather than social or cultural is found in this diary by The Baculum King, who suggests that this latest crop of mass killers are graduates of a generation whose minds have been altered by indiscriminate prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, SSRI's to children. Although the underlying sources for this argument appear to be more anecdotal than scientific, the data tells a chilling story where the behavior patterns of SSRI victims, their crimes and suicides, seem to resonate with much of what we know of the latest crop of mass shooters.

Something must be done and we have to start somewhere. An assault weapons ban is a great first step, and a perfectly constitutional one, even in the Roberts Court, IMHO. We need state and local officials to get behind reasonable registration and control measures for weapons and ammunition. In this day and age, technology lets us set our goal at registering and tracking every firearm and piece of ammunition. We should prohibit firearms advertising at least as tightly as we do cigarette advertising.

Just as is the case with another inherently dangerous product, liquor, private commerce in firearms must cease. Gun Shows must go, to be replaced entirely with licensed and regulated establishments under state or federal standards. Let's link hunting licenses to gun licenses. Let's match up the legitimate needs that our countrymen have for firearms for self defense and other perfectly lawful purposes. But let's fairly regulate the firearms trade and protect the public's health and welfare by moving toward intentional reduction of our overstocked and overpowered private national armory.

The USA doesn't have to be the poster child for crazy mass gun violence and this isn't the only country where this sort of tragedy occurs. It is time for a national conversation about allowing guns a smaller place in our culture, more in line with the actual conditions of modern life.

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