Recently, in lieu of the latest mass murder in Roseburg, Oregon, I decided to go to Wikipedia and do a little research about mass murderers. Specifically I wanted to find the data regarding mass murderers from the 1940's or earlier vs. today, my curiosity mostly inspired by President Obama's recent comments about gun reform.
As I searched for answers I came upon a case history from 1949. There were 13 individuals murdered by a mass killer by the name of Howard Unruh. His weapon of choice was a Luger P.08 semi automatic hand gun.
What is so interesting about the data in that case and in cases from between that era and that of current times is the striking similarities to any case you can think of in modern times.
In 1949 radio was the chief form of entertainment and news for most people. Gun laws were very relaxed compared to now. And the Luger P.08 was a very sophisticated and modern firearm for its time. It could be outfitted with a drum magazine that could make it a sub machine pistol.
In a chart for murder that I found on the internet, the murder statistics from between 1960 and 2010 support my theory that mass murders were more rare before the advent of social media and the internet.
My fellow anti-gun radicals tend to presume to know that the reason it is so easy for the lunatics to commit these horrific crimes is ease of access to guns and the military quality of some of them.
But in 1949 and even up to 1980's the uptick in mass murder crimes was exceptionally slow. It's not until the advent of Television in the 50's to the present influence of social media and the internet where we begin to see a surge in these kinds of crimes.
One could draw a parallel between the kind of effect social media has had in everything from recruiting Islamic State radicals with propaganda videos on Twitter, and the like, to the Arab Spring uprising, Benghazi, the fall of Momar Quaddafi, and even the events of Ferguson Missouri.
Every description I've ever read regarding the mentality of psychopathic killers is that they share a certain common quality. A massive ego, an insignificant personal life, and desire to kill and be famous for it.
What's fueling the uprising of the kooks is not that gun laws aren't restrictive enough, nor the kind of guns available, but that it is the internet and the phenomenal amount of news media coverage that inadvertently glorifies these horrific acts of domestic terrorism and the killers who do it.
If we want to see a down tick in these kinds of cases, two things must be done. In keeping with the Sheriff of Roseburg Oregon, who refused to utter the killers name in a press conference, the media should not put the killers picture on TV or even say his name. Or do the usual investigation of his life and his memoirs. But focus on the victims, their biographies, their pictures, their families. And openly say the we are no longer going to feed the ego of these kinds of malignant narcissists'.
There must be a way the media can do their job of informing the public without glorifying these idiots. So much of what the television media does is theatre anyway. Perhaps they can curtail themselves and adhere more to the tenants of what is genuine journalism vs. what is just a whole lot of ratings, voyeurism and ghoulish gossip.
And that will be a message to all those copycats, who live in the shadows of their insignificant puny existences.
And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's too late to put the "genie (the internet/ news media and mass murderers ) back in its bottle.
As I watched Obama address the nation on Friday afternoon, the 2nd of October, in a special news media event, I could not help but disagree with the usual liberal rhetorical over simplifications he compared and contrasted gun violence in America to that of other countries. Where he is accurate, however, is in his criticism of the gun lobby and their financial influence over the Republican party and even some of the Democrats. Special interest money is a huge problem in this country, and good subject for another essay.
Also his criticism of Jeb Bush's flippant remarks about the Roseburg shooting was spot on. Jeb, like his brother before him, just can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth. And it was clear to me when I saw the interview of Jeb Bush making those remarks that he's definitely the gun lobby's right hand man.
Our problem is deeper than the occasional crackpot. Or even politics as usual. It really comes down to who we are as humans. And that we possess the dark imagination to invent weapons of death in the first place.
Our greatest minds in science, the same people who have been at the forefront of modern physics and all of its glorious inventions are the same people who created the Hydrogen bomb.
As I have said many times before, we humans are just Neanderthals with weapons of mass destruction.