Mike Hendricks

Mike at Night

Mike Hendricks recently retires as social science, criminal justice instructor at McCook Community College.

Mass murder

Friday, October 6, 2017

The FBI defines mass murder as the murder of four or more people during the same incident and time frame and Americans are really good at it. The United States makes up only 4.4% of the world’s population but is responsible for 31% of the world’s mass shooting incidents. And this obviously doesn’t count the carnage that goes on in the streets of America’s cities every day.

There has been a major shift in the way we think and behave over my lifetime and that’s obvious to those who have been around for a while. Arguments used to be settled with fist fights, now they’re settled with weapons. Back then the loser would go home with a black eye or a bloody nose with more hurt pride than anything else where today he doesn’t go home at all. He goes to the morgue.

A curious statistical aberration tells us that while the United States has more guns per capita than any country in the world, 57% of Americans own NO guns. That means that gun ownership is concentrated among gun owners who typically have several guns.

The nation today is pretty evenly divided between supporters and opponents of gun control with the latest poll showing a 50-50 split.

The question is, what IS gun control?

Most of us have no problem with people owning handguns for personal protection or the protection of their home or their family. And even though most people aren’t hunters, they don’t have a problem with people who own larger weapons to hunt with.

What concerns most of us are the types of weapons that the shooter used to kill 58 people in Las Vegas the other night and wound almost 500 others. These were fully automatic weapons which spewed bullets out at a tremendous rate and the type of weapon used was the exclusive reason why so many were hurt and killed. A person simply could not inflict that kind of damage with a single shot weapon.

As for the reason behind the mass murders that tend to occur in groups, the reason for these acts remains obscure. I don’t have any idea how an otherwise normal person could reach the point in his mind that when he decides to die, he plans on taking as many other people with him as possible. I could understand it a little better if the people he chose to kill were enemies of his but to randomly gun down innocent people who had either little or no relationship with the shooter at all just doesn’t make any sense.

But one thing is certain. As long at these weapons are available, and ‘fixes’ are also available to turn weapons into automatic weapons, these mass murders will continue. We’re a nation almost out of control with hatred and loathing for our fellow man when he/she doesn’t reach the same conclusions we do about the world we live in. It’s very difficult anymore to have a rational discussion about politics without one or both sides becoming angry or confrontive. Does this lead to violence? It’s almost certain that in some cases it does if the means are available to carry out the violence which they almost always are. I know a person who owns several weapons and although he hunts occasionally, he uses them mostly to either threaten the life of his wife or himself.

Domestic violence is a precursor for much more serious behavior like murder and even mass murder and it should be handled much more seriously than it’s being handled in our court systems today. These people are dangerous to themselves and those around them and they need to be given jail time instead of suspended sentences or probation when their behavior is brought to the attention of law enforcement.

We can stick our heads in the sand and pretend we don’t have a problem but when we have mass murders occurring in this country at five times the rate of the second deadliest county, the Philippines, we have to confront the problem sooner or later. The greatest tragedy in all of this is that we’ve done nothing as a country to prevent these acts from occurring again and again and they will continue to occur until serious steps are taken to control this kind of behavior.

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