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Whenever there is a school shooting, almost everyone jumps into the discussion, riding their favorite hobby horse. It seemingly doesn’t matter if these are not causal or will even reduce the number of future atrocities.

Guns, for example, are not the cause of shooting, they are a means. Even though I grew up with guns (there were at least seven in my home) and would resist any change in the Constitution, I am uneasy when visiting a sporting goods store and see a large percent of their guns looking as much as possible like military rifles. A hunter does not need a rifle made to look like a soldier’s combat weapon.

This fixation is cultural.

When schools had rifle teams and it was common to give guns as gifts to boys when they turned 12 or 13, students did not walk into schools and shoot people at random.

That difference is cultural.

It turns out almost all school shooters were taking some form of prescribed psychiatric medicine, so some have suggested restricting the sale and prescription of these drugs. That is probably a good idea, but it is painting with too broad a brush and would have little effect on shootings.

All societies, present and past, used drugs. The drugs of choice are cultural.

Almost all “action” movies show “heroes” mowing down dozens of people without any apparent emotion for those they are killing. If it is shown up close, then the killing has to be unique and graphic. A knife through the eye, decapitation, burning to death, all without any emotions except boredom and revenge.

In apocalyptic stories, millions of people are seen dying without any apparent remorse by the survivors.

All these themes of blood and death are reproduced in computer games, which young men play hour after hour.

The media, which has to keep our attention 24 hours per day, latches onto shooting stories and replays them over and over with as much sensationalism as possible. There is almost a perfect probability that if shooters had never heard of a mass killing at a school, they would never think of committing a mass shooting at a school.

Banning a free press would save more lives than banning guns, but that is unacceptable.

Our craven politicians run to the nearest microphone, repeating worn out platitudes, ignoring both logic and causality.

Put all these together and we get more random acts of mass carnage.

And it is all cultural.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents never experienced, outside of war, the mass killing of children. Yet, we are told by our modern paragons of virtue they were vile and hateful people because they were insensitive and prejudicial.

What would they think of us?

When a culture rejects the moral and religious glue that has held it together for centuries, we can expect parts of it to shatter and fly apart. The obsessions and preoccupations of a collapsing culture typically lead to impotence and death.

And sometimes to the mass murder of children.

Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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