Let’s Stop Manufacturing Mass Murdering Weapons

I don’t know much about Ian Long, the young man who killed 12 then himself in a California bar this week, other than the basic facts and a few stories from his mother’s neighbors.

There was a great deal of speculation and rants by social media pundits about what happened in a Thousand Oaks, California bar, and about Long and why he did what he did.  We still know very little.

There is just one thing I know for sure about Ian Long and what he did.  He wasn’t born a mass murderer.  We crafted him. He is the latest mass murdering weapon we as a society have manufactured in this factory we call post-modern western society.

Yes, we are manufacturing mass murdering weapons but they don’t go by the names of AR-15 or AK-47.  They have names like Ian Long, Adam Lanza, and Nikolas Cruz.  They aren’t manufactured in buildings.  They are formed and assembled in the great wide open, right in front of our veiled eyes.

Even as I write this, the event is all but forgotten because fires are raging in California, people are mourning the death of a 95-year-old comic strip artist, and there was no evil AR-15 involved in the shooting.

Most don’t realize or refuse to accept that the blame lies with each of us for each of these horrific crimes or all of the other murders that occur but fly under the radar of social media and network news because the death toll isn’t high enough to move the ratings needle.

As there always is in the immediate aftermath of crimes such as Long’s, there was the predictable and mind-numbing gun vs. anti-gun nonsense, each side hoping against all hope that a certain gun was used so it would help bolster their argument.

To discuss guns in the wake of these incidents is intellectually lazy.  The weapons that need to be discussed aren’t made of metal and wood. We manufacture weapons made of flesh and blood. The process often starts in childhood. We start with raw material, then slowly re-wire each brain — devaluing and stripping away fathers, filling brains with violence, pornography and warped values.

What’s lying beneath the surface is all of the other murders that don’t titillate with body counts — murder-suicides, spouses hiring hitmen to eliminate the other, murders for $20 or for some invented offense.  These are all still the result of what we have created.

We churn out these mass murdering products then get upset when they work as they were designed. Reports indicate that PTSD may have played a role in Long’s rampage. Can we honestly be surprised?  But every previous generation has been at war, too.  Why is the result so different today?

My wife works as a nursing supervisor at the local VA Medical Center.  The stories she brings home invariably include the words ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict,’ especially when addressing the young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why have these wars produced so much alcoholism, drug abuse, and violent or troubled behavior?  The greatest generation of the 1940’s had to go to war.  They were trained to kill and many of them did. They came home and went back to the factories and moved on to live normal lives.

What happened to this generation of soldiers who are suffering from addictions and PTSD at much higher rates than their fathers and grandfathers?

Twelve people are dead in Thousand Oaks, California and scores more in Florida, Connecticut, and other places not because of a gun. Their deaths are the result of a long history of collective decisions we made over the years.

We traded true commitment to a marriage for no-fault divorce & temporary living arrangements

We traded fathers for visits

We traded faith in something greater and consequences for actions for YOLO

We traded having children for having things

We traded information for entertainment.

We traded working toward a goal for instant gratification.

We traded the long haul for the shortcut.

We traded community for isolation with handheld devices

We traded coping skills for participation trophies

We traded hard truths for easy prescriptions

We traded intelligent and respectful discourse for social media diatribes

We’ve taught two generations that not all human life is equal and made the slaughter of 60 million humans at the direction of their own mothers not only acceptable, but something that should be shouted with pride. You can even buy a t-shirt to celebrate your child’s dismemberment and death.

We’ve given an entire generation instant access to all the violence and pornography — and violent pornography — that their minds could possibly crave with just a few taps on a smartphone or a button on a video game controller. At the same time, we’ve erased any delineation between right and wrong, sacrificing it at the altar of political correctness.

We’ve spent more time in war than in peace.

We hollowed out the middle class by sending manufacturing jobs — the best and easiest way for non-college graduates to find a spot among the middle class — to other countries to build their middle classes.

We did all of this without a single thought or care as to the effects and outcomes. Actions have consequences and we are living all of them.

We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

We all know the solution is prevention, but that goes way beyond having more psychologists and group therapy.  It’s much bigger than that. It’s taking a long, hard look at ourselves — individually and as a society.  What do we value and what are we willing to sacrifice?

That’s a long, hard road and there is just no place for that in the land of instant gratification. We are western society. We don’t have time for long-term solutions. We want a shot of ‘feel-good-about-ourselves’ and then get back to our reality television, Netflix, and Instagram.

We want our vote for the right candidate and the right party to be the extent of our involvement in the work that needs to be done. We want to spare feelings rather than collectively learn hard truths.

Even in 2018, society has no idea what to do about mental illness and has no willingness to suppress its pride to admit that the true fault lies not within our guns but within ourselves.

Until we realize that the troubled person is the weapon, the best we will do is continue the endless arguments over gun metal. Until we admit the failures of the free-love 60’s and the long-term effects it has had on society, we will continue to think first of ‘me’ long before we think ‘us’.

Are you ready to do the really hard work?  Are you prepared to let go of much of what you’ve been led to believe? Can you subdue your pride to move forward on this?


Sacrifice Seen & Unseen

I am able to type and post this freely because of the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women who didn’t simply die but willingly put themselves in harm’s way for me, my family and 300 million present-day Americans, as well as every American who was blessed to live in this country since its founding. Saying ‘thank you’ is wholly inadequate but is all I can offer here.

Yes, today we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice — their lives. I ask that we remember some others, as well. My wife is a nursing supervisor at our local VA Medical Center. I’ve lost count of the days she has come home heartbroken over the number of veterans who are coming back home from recent wars as alcoholics, drug addicts or so mentally scarred that they struggle to deal with every day life.

Yes, today we honor those who sacrificed their lives. But to the families of these young men and women who returned from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan they, too, have experienced the loss of their loved ones. While the deaths may not be physical deaths, they lost the loved one they knew before they were sent off to war. The same person did not return. That soldier left the person they were on the battlefield and someone else returned in that soldier’s place. Too often that returning soldier is unrecognizable to their families and friends.

As a country, we war too much. Throughout its history, the United States has been at war more than it has been at peace. I am no pacifist. Sadly, in a fallen world, war can be a necessary last resort. I can’t help but wonder, though, if we have become too thirsty for it. The fervor in the run-up to war runs hot and becomes an emotional reaction just as any other we should temper with cooling discourse and measured response.

Better still, we should ask ourselves if we have the stamina to truly take care of those we put in harm’s way for the rest of their lives. The true cost of war isn’t measured in dollars. A dollar can be regenerated. A unique life cannot. War is properly measured in lives — those lost and those compromised. The great shame of our nation is a single veteran not getting the medical care, help, or support of any kind that he or she needs. They deserve a blank check, just like the one they gave us when they became soldiers.

In Ecclesiastes 3 we learn that there is a ‘time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.’ Perhaps it’s time we start gathering.