Rage+Fear+Despair+10 Percent Unemployment+Guns = Mass Shootings
Why are we at all surprised — or are we — when yet another shooting rampage occurs somewhere in the U.S.?
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26.2 percent of adults over the age of 18 in any given year are suffering from a diagnosable mental illness. Every single day, 57.7 million Americans struggle with some form of internal demon, from schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder to depression or panic attacks.
An estimated 30 percent of American homes contain a firearm. Is it really inconceivable that there’s some inevitable and lethal overlap between those people who are at the end of their totally frayed ropes — and who also have ready access to a firearm, perhaps even training in how to use one?
Aiming and firing a weapon, (something I did in training for my book) is not terribly difficult. In a society premised on a thin, weak social safety net, one that allows so many to slip through unnoticed into poverty, madness or despair, firing a weapon into a crowd clearly, to some, seems a viable option.
Add to these basic statistics, now, a 10 percent+ unemployment rate. Banks are refusing to grant credit. Credit cards are boosting their rates and late fees. There are six people now applying for any available job. People are losing their homes, living in their cars. It’s a very safe bet that, of the 48 million who have no health insurance, there are many people who are mentally ill, perhaps severely mentally ill, on the brink of homicide or suicide with no one to talk to, to diagnose them, to offer them in or out-patient hospital treatment, talk therapy and/or a prescription for helpful medications.
Of course, I’m horrified by the shootings at Fort Hood yesterday, and today in Orlando. Yesterday’s were the reaction of a military psychiatrist who knew better than anyone what hell he would be heading into if he were deployed overseas. Today, the shooter is a man apparently fired from his job.
The raw emotions that propel people into lethal violence are tinder awaiting a match. It will happen again.
I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more frequently.