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The tyranny of Columbine 25 years ago, America handed evil a gun

A man poses in Virginia (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)

A man poses in Virginia (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)


April 20, 2024   12 mins

The 25 years since the Columbine massacre have given us many occasions — other massacres, alas — to invoke it. But this repetition has had the strange effect of dimming and narrowing our sense of what “Columbine” was in its details. From reading up on the tragedy in recent weeks, I learned that my own sense of Columbine had dimmed and narrowed very much over those 25 years. For me, “Columbine” had become a sort of placeholder, a vague signifier for the few things it has in common with all the new massacres that bring it to speech, rather than the name of something that, when it happened, was catastrophically unique. I’m not alone. People I’ve told the things I’m relearning have likewise received these old facts as fresh revelations. The details of Columbine are sad and shocking, in other words, but we’ve forgotten them anyway. They are worth remembering.

Columbine was not unprecedented. I knew that. Armed people had shot up American schools before, and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers, may have been inspired by some of these killings. But their truer inspirations were not shooters at all. They were larger events of mass mayhem and death. In an online journal Harris sketched his ambition to create something “like the LA riots, the Oklahoma bombing, WWII, Vietnam”, and various apocalyptic video games “all mixed together”. Accordingly, he and Klebold conducted a careful study of their school’s cafeteria, to learn when it would be most densely packed with students (11:17am, they determined). They built several large propane bombs, timed them to explode at this peak moment, and, on the morning of their attack, carried them into the cafeteria, using the lunch-hour busyness as cover for their unusual lugging and dropping of heavy duffle bags in a lunch room.

So Harris and Klebold murdered 12 students and a teacher in their attack, and this was the deadliest school shooting in American history, at the time. But their plan was to kill many more — “at least four hundred”, Harris said. Given the size of the bombs he made, and given the number of kids in the lunchroom at 11:17am of April 20, 1999, he may have hit or even exceeded his number, if his poorly made bombs had actually gone off. The Columbine massacre is notorious as a school shooting, then, but it was also, and perhaps more consequentially, a failed bombing.

Beside its failed-bombing aspect, another core fact of Columbine that had faded in my memory is that its mastermind and driving spirit was a figure of evil so total and so extreme that, were he a character in a cartoon, you’d think him too cartoonish. Unlike many other school-shooters and mass-shooters both before and after Columbine, Eric Harris was neither abused nor delusional. He was smart and had a decent number of friends and was somewhat attractive to girls. He was fairly well-raised by a doting mother and an ex-military father — who was kind of a jerk, apparently, but hardly a tyrant to his two sons. Although early reports identified Harris as a bullied member of a group of outcasts called the “Trench Coat Mafia”, he wasn’t in TCM, and he wasn’t bullied. Instead, he just wanted to do bad things, and, as he got older, the badness he wanted to do expanded in scale until it was basically total. He wanted to kill humanity itself — and for no external reason. It was just what he’d come to want. His journals often show him to be angry, but he wasn’t despairing, and his anger, generally arrogant and affronted, was also exuberant. He was high-spirited in his desire to kill everyone, and self-aware. As he put it in one journal entry, “I’m full of hate and I love it.”

Psychiatrists who’ve profiled him since his death have declared him a psychopath. This is probably accurate, but it’s also inadequate and unsatisfying. Like other psychopaths, Eric Harris totally lacked empathy and remorse, and he took pleasure in — and was very good at — deceiving and manipulating others. But, unlike most psychopaths, Eric Harris had an active, urgent lust to kill all the people in the world. And he had a restless practical bent. He was eager to work. He recruited and groomed his brainy, fitfully suicidal friend Dylan Klebold and, over several years, he made and described and carried out concrete plans for exploding, if not all of the world’s people, at least several hundred of its teenagers. Had his ambition to stage a large-scale massacre somehow passed before he could die attempting it, had he finished school and continued on to a psychopath’s semblance of a regular life, it’s easy to see him becoming a serial killer. His writings include several passages like this: “I want to tear a throat out with my own teeth… I want to grab some weak little freshman and just tear them apart like a wolf, show them who is god.”

That he wrote this stuff down, not only private journals but on a blog, and that he was just such a bristling site of evil energy, raises the predictable question: “How did people not know?” How could the nihilism and murder-lust of a prolific internet braggart, a kid who was making plans and making bombs and arranging for slightly older friends to buy him guns… how could all this have not raised eyebrows and hackles and red flags? In fact it did raise those things. This is the other incredible shock of the case that I’d forgotten.

More than a year before the massacre, Harris fell out with his friend Brooks Brown and began to torment and threaten him, and so Brown’s parents reported Harris to the county sheriff’s department. They’d seen the hair-raising pages from Harris’s website and sent them to the sheriff as well. Investigators there learned that, on top of the Brown harassment and the bloody fantasies and plans he described in his web journal, there was solid evidence that this Harris miscreant was building pipe bombs. They drew up an affidavit requesting that a search warrant be executed on his parents’ house.

But the affidavit somehow never left the sheriff’s department. A judge never saw it. A search warrant was never issued or executed. Again, this happened more than a year before the massacre Harris and Klebold eventually committed. Then, in the days after the massacre, the sheriff’s department learned they already had an old and highly suggestive file on one of the killers, now dead, and that they’d failed to request the search warrant for which they had the affidavit. That is, they could and should have prevented the massacre, and they failed. At this point, with federal agents poking around everywhere, the sheriff and the local prosecutor did what many low-level politicians would do in such a situation. They hid the file and lied about it.

Such notes of mischance and ineptitude have become a leitmotif of school-shooting narratives. When they emerge, as they always seem to, they inspire the mix of agony and resolve carried in the phrase if only. If only the police had better procedures. If only they’d followed the good procedures they actually have. If only the parents had just paid attention. There’s always something that might have been done differently. Next time we will do the thing that, inconceivably, we failed to do this time.

After Columbine, law enforcement agencies throughout the US resolved to implement one huge lesson from the police response: stop treating school-shootings as hostage situations, in which police set up a perimeter and wait to negotiate with the shooters. Assume there is no negotiating, only murder, and storm the building! Engage the shooter! This was thought to have become the standard for active-shooter incidents in American law enforcement. But when, 19 years after Columbine, a disturbed kid began shooting up a school in Parkland, Florida, the school’s armed “resource officer” named Scot Peterson put himself in a safe position and waited for more cops to arrive.

This cop, a deputy in the local sheriff’s department, would be vilified for his cowardice and then prosecuted for neglecting his duty; but when his fellow deputies arrived, they also set up a perimeter and waited as the shooter claimed his 17 victims, instead of engaging him. When police from a neighboring jurisdiction arrived, they did finally storm the building and engage the shooter. The difference between two groups of officers, as the Atlantic’s Jamie Thompson outlines in a remarkable article, was their training. The second group had received sound, clear training on quickly engaging active shooters. The first group, the sheriff’s department to which the vilified school cop belonged, had received vague, ambiguous training that seemed to tell officers to wait for a bigger team to arrive.

Three years after the Parkland shooting, the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, featured an even more paralytic response from local police, who waited outside the school for 70 minutes as the gunman finished killing his 19 young victims — after which came another agonised phase in which we looked to the heavens and said: If only. These events, mass killings of schoolchildren, are so unbearable that our psychological response when they happen is to undo them in our minds, to transport ourselves to the alternative timeline on which they didn’t happen. Then we can tell ourselves what actually happened was unnatural, owing to that one deviant thing — the uncanny failure to submit an affidavit, the singular cowardice of a sheriff’s deputy, the tragic loophole in the system for preventing schizophrenics from having guns, the criminal negligence of those oddball parents, who should have snooped on their psychopathic son way more than they did, who should have known their son was a psychopath in the first place, because we would have known. Any normal person would have known.

And our legal and policy responses to these tragedies express, more or less directly, this need to undo them, fancifully and retroactively — sometimes through policies that are concretely illiberal and sadly unrealistic, sometimes through legal actions that are obvious acts of displacement and scapegoating, such as prosecuting Deputy Scot Peterson for doing what he was trained to do, because we can’t undo the outrages he was merely, haplessly present for.

Recently, in Michigan, a mother and father were convicted of negligent homicide for failing to prevent their teenage son from bringing a gun to his high school and murdering four of his fellow students. This conviction does not mean “[p]arents are… expected to be psychic”, the trial judge said. Rather, apparently, they should just know in advance if their child is going to bring one of their guns to school and murder four people. After all, mere days before his crime, these parents outrageously took their child to a gun range, when a “reasonable” parent, in the view of the court, would have known he might be on the verge of murdering people. One legal commentator captured this theory of responsibility in revealing terms. The parents’ conviction, he said, “is a shot across the bow to all parents, to all people who have firearms in their house, to keep them locked up, if they could be in the hands of the wrong people”. Parents don’t have to refrain having guns and teenage children in the same house, in this formulation, or even keep their guns locked up as a rule. They just have to lock up their guns “if they could be in the hands of the wrong people”.

This is a very American hedge. The problem isn’t guns being everywhere, or kids having guns. Across America kids have guns, even congressmen’s kids. The problem is the wrong people having guns. How do all those parents know they aren’t raising the wrong people? How do those congressmen know? The only real confirmation your kid is one of the wrong people is when he goes to his school with some of your guns and murders a bunch of other kids. Because access to lethal firepower is more-or-less universal in America, the contingencies of life — the fallible insight and foresight of parents, their inconstancy in keeping their millions of guns locked up, the leaky procedures of exurban bureaucracies, the variable quality of 18,000 separate police agencies, the hidden-ness and unpredictability of people’s thoughts and desires — sometimes reveal themselves in the sickening manner of mass shootings. America can’t do anything about the guns, and so it tries to stamp out the contingency. And if we can’t create a plausible fantasy of stamping it out, we mould it into an effigy — parent-shaped or deputy-shaped — and bring criminal charges against it.

The availability of so many high-capacity firearms, and the self-fuelling sequence by which the evil and unbalanced inspire each other to stage new spectacles of violence, has placed us in a bizarre condition — a mix of archaic thralldom before unruly fate and a very modern, and latently totalitarian, urge to master the smallest and blurriest variables of human action with state power. To the problem of school shootings and other gun massacres we direct an attitude of tribal magic, and also an ambition for total administration and surveillance informed by the latest teachings and terminology of mental science. As I noted above, it’s hard not to view figures like Deputy Scot Peterson and the Michigan parents as sacrificial tokens, ritual offerings to the implacable god of crazed gunmen. And it’s hard to miss the strangeness of Republican politicians, and other small-government conservatives and libertarians, arguing for comprehensive national monitoring of everyone’s mental health, so that some opaque procedure of psychological bureaucracy can determine who’s not sane enough to exercise what they also say is a fundamental right.

In other words, the distinctively American understanding in which unrestrained ownership of and commerce in firearms is a non-negotiable component of political liberty in its very essence has been revealed as a strange bargain, fraught with self-contradiction. For us, the prerogative of owning and bearing arms is a foundation of citizenship in a free republic, something guarded with manly vigilance by our proudly armed yeomanry as they bear the standard against political tyranny, and also we might need the government to monitor our brains to keep us from going crazy and shooting up a school.

It may derive from convenient hindsight, gained from Columbine and its progeny, along with my time living in several American cities where gun-death is its own social system, but I think this bargain is a fundamentally bad one. The theory of citizenship that underlies American gun rights is bad political theory. In the American ideology of guns, uninfringed gun rights belong to a maximalist notion of political liberty. But our wide and unrestrained distribution of guns directly and indirectly limits civic and political freedom far more than even robust gun restrictions would. In encounters with our local agents of sovereign authority, police officers, we citizens must perform an elaborate kabuki of submissiveness and harmlessness, because the police are, understandably, a little freaked out, pretty much all the time, at the possibility that the person they’re dealing with is carrying one or more of America’s half-billion guns. That we accept this obligation to grovel before the sovereign’s men as totally natural and not at all humiliating is a symptom of the ideological numbing induced by our gun absolutism, our psychic need to cope with its self-contradictions. It may happen one day that the police, not knowing what you’re up to and nervous about getting shot, will scream at you, “Get on your knees!” and at that moment you’ll know you can’t refuse or even protest, even a little, as a citizen of a free republic. You’ll just have to get on your knees.

If you understand the possession of firearms as a kind of executive power, the ability of one will to coerce another, then you’re forced into an uneasy realisation as an American. For us, executive power is in fact all around us, all the time, requiring prudence and deference in our everyday interactions, constraints on what we do and when, and — if the wrong dudes roll up on you — absolute submission, as of a subject to his king. When the wrong dudes rolled up on a friend recently, directly across the street from my house, and one of them let an arm fall out his open window so that my friend could see the pistol attached to the hand, there was only one thing for my friend to do, pull his phone and wallet from his pockets and hand them over. From their stolen Volkswagen in that moment, these dudes wielded sovereign power, and he was their subject. This is a lesson about the political dimension of crime, the retail tyranny of forceful acts of taking, that the progressives who oversee our permissive regime of law enforcement, and who view criminals as victims of invisible structures rather than as agents using arbitrary executive force to coerce their fellow citizens, could stand to learn as well.

My friend is a mellow guy, but I’m not. He took being the victim of a sidewalk hold-up in stride, glad to have escaped unshot from his encounter with armed lowlifes. But I seethed on his behalf, and my anger was a citizen’s anger. The dudes in that Volkswagen, in using an armed threat to steal his property, had violated his rights and, in forcing his submission, insulted his dignity as a person and citizen. My fantasies about chasing down that car and, yes, using the fantasy gun I magically had, retrieving the stolen wallet and phone and, in some of the angrier iterations, shooting those motherfuckers in the head as I did it, were those of a citizen wanting redress against an unjust exercise of arbitrary power. Of course those were just fantasies. There was no redress. He just had to take it. When my turn comes, I’ll just have to hide my citizen’s anger and take it as well.

In another recent local incident, a man walked onto his porch late at night to confront two guys trying steal his car, to raise an objection as the legal owner of the car, and they each pulled out a gun and began shooting at him. He just opened his mouth to protest an act of arbitrary taking by armed agents of a hostile political will — “What are you doing?” he said — and they made him know, by firing 30 rounds in his direction, somehow missing him on the porch and barely missing his daughter in her bed, that his protests were not allowed in the autocratic regime they’d set up on his property. These are real insults to the liberty of citizens, real acts of tyranny, frightening and sometimes lethal and undeniably political, that happen every day in this country.

“These are real insults to the liberty of citizens, real acts of tyranny”

I’m not even anti-gun, in any total sense. Some of my siblings and some of my best friends own guns. I think hunters should be able to own guns. I don’t think law-abiding citizens should be prevented from owning a gun to protect their homes. But, as a precept of political theory, the idea that it’s some kind of anti-republican tyranny for the central government, the actual sovereign, to exercise any control over the weapons of executive power — how powerful they are, how they fire, how many of them circulate in society — strikes me as insane.

It shows symptoms of insanity as political practice as well. You note these symptoms in the things politicians say when, after the newest Columbine, they’re forced by their absolutist gun ideology to finger a culprit that isn’t guns. After several school shootings, pro-gun activists and politicians have said that classroom teachers should carry guns. After the Uvalde massacre, Texas senator Ted Cruz said the problem was that schools have too many doors. After the Sandy Hook massacre, where 20 first graders and six adults were murdered by a delusional man, Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association and purported opponent of tyranny and champion of limited government, decried the lack of “a national database of the mentally ill”.

But my favourite example of this phenomenon, in which the psychic prohibition on acknowledging the obvious importance of guns in America’s massacre problem yields a clearly compensatory sort of babbling nonsense, is when then-president Donald Trump faced questions about a hideous church massacre in Texas in 2017. “I think mental health is your problem here,” he said. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation… This is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

We can leave aside Trump’s tacit concession about guns here, what the mental health problem we share with “other countries” says about the massacre problem they don’t share with us. Instead, we can just focus on the fact that it’s Donald Trump at the mic, telling us we need to get serious about mental health in this country, that the root cause of a grave public policy problem is something to be tackled not by the police, or by Donald Trump’s best guys, but by psychotherapists. To me he doesn’t sound entirely well in this moment. He doesn’t — as we sometimes say of people who are struggling emotionally or psychologically — sound like himself.


Matt Feeney is an writer based in California and the author of Little Platoons: A defense of family in a competitive age


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Point of Information
Point of Information
25 days ago

“It may happen one day that the police, not knowing what you’re up to and nervous about getting shot, will scream at you, “Get on your knees!” and at that moment you’ll know you can’t refuse or even protest, even a little, as a citizen of a free republic. You’ll just have to get on your knees.”

Straight outta Orwell…

Tony
Tony
24 days ago

Well it is better than the lax response we are reading about.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
25 days ago

The two lamest bromides offered as cures for the epidemic of violence described are “gun control” and “mental health” interventions. The root of the problem is the displacement of sovereignty to the individual. Our culture has progressively over several generations emphasized individual rights and prerogatives at the expense of obligation to community. Thereby the social contract by which people once yielded some liberty in exchange for order and effective governance has been undone. In every form of government the sovereign holds exclusive right to violence, war being an example. Individuals who are empowered to define themselves as they see fit answerable to no one outside themselves are made virtual sovereigns and, as all sovereigns, retain the right to violence. If you can define yourself contrary to what nature made you, if you can sleep and piss and shit on any sidewalk without consequence, if you’re free to abandon your duty to children, wives, and husbands who have merely become inconvenient or annoying, if you can sweep a potential human from your womb in lieu of birth control you are consummately individual, effectively the sovereign of a country of one, restrained by nothing and by no one.

Tony
Tony
24 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

That is exactly the point that I was going to make. I don’t think we have gone that far yet to insist that that was his identity and that he needed to express it, but that is becoming a part of our culture. It would appear more and more to me that we are putting individual rights over the general public’s rights. The case in question comes to mind of allowing men dressed up as women to enter women’s dressing rooms especially in the sporting world. Some of those women will be happily married and don’t want to be seen naked by men. Neither do they want to see naked a man who wears women’s clothes. The same problem exists in prisons where female inmates get raped by males in women’s clothes. The statistics of rape of women by women have gone up as they are still calling the transgender person a she when he is a he. This gives the statistics the lie to women that they are raping the women in prison when the rapists are men calling themselves women. In judgement on these cases the judges are still calling them women so as not to misgender them. The whole reasoning has just gone crazy.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
24 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

Are you talking about legal or purely moral changes?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

That’s so silly that I don’t know where to begin to respond to your mentality.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

John Locke’s concept of the Social Contract upon which Enlightenment-based societies are based is silly? Duty, responsibility, obligation to others outside ourselves is silly? You may rest comfortably among the majority of modern people who are certain that they are justified in building their lives upon the old 1960’s credo of “if it feels good, do it.” I suppose you cherish the notion that we can encourage flagrant narcissism while mopping up its negative effects via “mental health” interventions? The therapeutic model has failed miserably at predicting or mitigating violent behaviors and will never undo what derives from the extreme expression of the values of our age.

You actually did respond in a way you thought clever but which is merely ad hominum.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
23 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

I didn’t think I was being clever in the least, I just felt too weary to bother to address all the silliness.

Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Why don’t you just admit you have no cogent response and dispense with the silly pretense? My comments are obviously controversial—intentionally so– but, out of the 100 people who rated them, 75% gave a thumbs up, so if you are “too weary” to respond with something of substance please don’t respond at all. Any dolt can call something silly. Refute meaningfully or butt out.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

If it were so silly you could easily destroy it. You can’t. It’s either a reflection on the argument being solid or your brain isn’t up to the job.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
23 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

My brain isn’t up to the job.

Peter Samson
Peter Samson
23 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

Just to be clear, in the U.S., unlike the UK, the people are sovereign.

Anna Knowles
Anna Knowles
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter Samson

As far as the governance of the UK is concerned, the people are indeed sovereign. Their sovereignty is only lent to their elected representatives in Parliament. The party that commands a majority then forms the government. Should the governing party lose a vote of confidence, there must be a general election when the people exercise their sovereign right to choose their rulers.
The monarch is bound by his or her Coronation Oath to govern in compliance with the customs and laws of the people enacted on their behalf by their elected representatives in Parliament.

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

“The root of the problem is the displacement of sovereignty to the individual.”
Exactly.
Gun ownership is an individual right, but it serves both individual and collective purposes. Therefore a gun owner is a CITIZEN, and should be required to act like one.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
22 days ago
Reply to  Ex Nihilo

“The two lamest bromides …” After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia much stricter gun control was introduced and has undoubtedly worked. What Britain’s King Charles said, as Prince Charles, in countering gun control by saying people could just as easily “batter someone to death with a cricket bat” is of course ridiculous. Too much Miss Marple and Dorothy L. Sayers. A cricket bat is not an ideal weapon for mass murder, even in the hands of the best batsman. The problem is available lethality combined with emotion or intent. A statistician could readily model the variation in outcomes between an angry unarmed person, say a cricketer, and an angry person with an AK47 on which they were trained. But agree with all the rest.

Michael Mike
Michael Mike
20 days ago

Ridiculous? In the US, more people are battered to death with clubs, or fists every year, than are shot to death with a rifle, that’s a fact. Mass murder continues to happen in countries with draconian gun control regulations, whether by knife, sword, or other means. Remove guns and bad people still kill other people. The problem is obviously not the tool, it is the person.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
25 days ago

Please…you could mail-order rifles generations ago and these attacks didn’t happen. Disregarding suicide and gang violence, there is no gun problem in the U.S., despite the (manufactured) hysteria.

Far more people are dying from lifestyle choices than from any gun violence.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

That’s all right then. Because obesity kills more you’re able to just ignore the uniquely American problem of kids shooting up their classmates.
Personally I’d rather my kids have the freedom of knowing they’ll be safe at school over my freedom to own firearms willy nilly

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

They maybe safe from school shootings but that doesn’t mean they’re safe in school. By its very nature, school is damaging to our children. Look up John Taylor Gatto and read Abigail Schrier’s Bad therapy and you’ll understand. My friends and I once considered the only children who would prefer to be at school than at home would be the ones that are abused at home. Now I work with looked after children and I can say that the last children schools want to support are the looked after ones. They actively work at getting these kids kicked out. Let’s not forget that for a long time the Columbine shooters were given hero status by other kids because so many children are utterly miserable in school for good reason!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I’m not entirely sure what your point is I’m afraid. You’re trying to make school sound like something akin to a North Korean labour camp

Bruce Buteau
Bruce Buteau
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Same political indoctrination, so…

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Buteau

I don’t remember ever having to call my headmaster or form tutor “Dear Leader”

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

True, but you probably had to call him ‘sir’ or address him as ‘Mr.’ Or ma’am and Ms/Mrs as the case may be. Today, you can physically assault the teacher and little will happen. This should underscore how the issue is far far more than one of metal objects.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Again, I fail to see the point being made. You’re right I had to address the teachers as sir/miss. One pupil did punch a teacher and was promptly expelled (interestingly a teacher also head butted a pupil and was promptly sacked).
What does this have to do with anything in the article?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Sir is a sign of respect.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

What point are you trying to make by calling guns ‘metal objects’? And the point can be as wide as you like, but you still have to explain why you want the kids to have guns now that they have no respect for their teachers.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Exactly! My upvote didn’t register.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I seem to remember there was an island full of Swedish kids who got shot up awhile back. There was even a movie made about that incident.

Paul T
Paul T
24 days ago

…Norwegian…

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago

Norwegian, and that was a far right fully grown adult terrorist rather than a messed up teenager. How many others can you name in other first world nations over the last 20 years compared to the States?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago

And your point is? It was many years ago and nothing since.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

And as for the need to protect one’s home, how many home invasions by strangers happen every year, and how many resulted in the homeowner successfully protecting their home with a gun. Guns are supposed to be locked up with the bullets in a separate place. Since there’s usually no warning to home invasions there goes that argument!

Andrew Vavuris
Andrew Vavuris
23 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Why can’t they be protected at school?

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
24 days ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

Nope, no gun problem at all. 400,000,000 guns and over 43,000 people being killed by them every year – but no problem. Horrendous data – get rid of the guns. they only have 1 purpose, to kill. How do you not see a civilised society shouldn’t give anyone who wants it a gun
mental

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

I suggest “being killed and killing themselves” will be more accurate. The cases are different.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

So true but it really seems like they’re here to stay. The NRA lobbyists are so powerful, it’s such a profitable industry and so many people are obsessively attached to their guns. It’s a cultural mentality.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I think you are delusional about the power of the NRA and the profitability of the firearm industry. Why don’t you go off, find some numbers, and come back?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Or make the numbers up.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

That may be your solution. I don’t buy into it.

Stewart White
Stewart White
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

Good point, Tony: Get rid of the guns.

Now, you go into the next meeting of the Bloods and the Crips and tell them you’re taking their guns away for the greater good. Let me know what they say.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
25 days ago

Simply arrest and jail people holding illegal guns.
That will never happen because the cries of racism would stop it.

Tony
Tony
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Same problem with the knives in London. Checking them for knives is racism. If it is a particular problem in that race it is not racism. You also check for terrorism in another particular culture to protect the majority.

Ben McMullen
Ben McMullen
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

That’s not going to help prevent shootings by people legally holding guns, is it?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
24 days ago
Reply to  Ben McMullen

But it’s a start.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

And there are far fewer murders with legal guns than illegal guns, mass murders included.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Which guns are illegal, if everybody has the right to arm themselves?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Guns illegally altered to be more lethal, for a start.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago

And what percentage is that? Aren’t most guns legal ones?

Dana Montroy
Dana Montroy
23 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

No. The actual bulk of gun violence in the US comes down to 4 or 5 ultra violent urban areas, where most guns are procured illegally…ie through theft. Those guns are held by criminal gangs made up of “untouchable” populations. We had it mostly under control via the 1993 crime bill and Stop and Frisk, but those measures were deemed racist (as was community policing) and so we have now seen an explosion of gun violence in the inner cities.

Arlene Wilcox
Arlene Wilcox
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Because only non-white people hold illegal guns

0 0
0 0
23 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

No illegal gun ownership among whites?

Danny D
Danny D
25 days ago

I‘m not American so have no skin in the game and no strong opinion on firearms legislation, but I found this perspective interesting, so thanks for the article!

Alicia Sinclair
Alicia Sinclair
25 days ago

Good article, but loses it’s thread towards the end
Trouble is, Matt….under Biden , you’d only have the state shooting pro life people outside abortion clinics ,or Trump lawyers or supporters
Antifa and BLM are deeply embedded now in all areas of public policy, and they decide the rules for the FBI, IRS already
So the citizenry need their guns.
You can’t have a godly trusting nation without trusted, godly people to choose your leaders from.
Harris’ sidebar quote you give us the cornerstone of all this
” Wanting to show people who is God”.
Sadly, that piece of satanic scripture he’s given us is OUR belief too ..ask Ashli Babbitt…oh wait, you can’t!

Tony
Tony
24 days ago

I am not American but see the sense of Americans keeping their guns provided they are obtained legally. They have a government at the moment that could easily approach dictatorship which wouldn’t want the populace to be armed. They would also be sitting ducks to armed criminals and mafia types not to mention some of those nameless illegal immigrants coming in.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
25 days ago

Perhaps if all places in America had the strict gun control laws that are in place in Chicago, the problem could be reduced.

Bruce Buteau
Bruce Buteau
25 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Certainly solved the violence in Chicago, didn’t it?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Buteau

A bit pointless doing it in just one spot, as you can just go and get the guns from elsewhere. Either has to be nationwide or not at all I’d think

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You can’t just go and get a gun from elsewhere and use it in Chicago!
You cannot legally buy a gun in Indiana and own it in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago has strict gun-control laws which make that impossible.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Are you saying that you would be caught at the state border?

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
24 days ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

If the police were serious about controlling illegal guns, you would be.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Only valid if you have border controls at the state border and stop and search people coming in. If you’re free to travel between states then there’s nothing stopping you going and buying guns from elsewhere

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
25 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Transporting a gun across state lines from a state with looser laws to a state with stricter laws is generally illegal without properly transferring ownership and licensing as required in the destination state.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Unless the states have border controls then your point I still doesn’t stand up. If you can simply drive between states without having to stop and be searched at the border then there’s almost nothing stopping you from bringing guns in from elsewhere

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
21 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing something illegal. You aren’t even searched at a lot of international borders.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

So what if it’s illegal?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Did you miss the point or choose to ignore it? One of the excuses in Chicago was that people go one state over into Indiana and buy firearms, yet Indiana was not a shooting gallery. It’s almost as if, once more, there is evidence that this is not an objects-based problem.

Jae
Jae
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The point is the states with the strictest gun laws generally have the most gun crimes committed.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Jae

Hmm. States with the top-7-most gun deaths by population, with rank of Gun Law Strength in parentheses: Mississippi (49), Louisiana (26), New Mexico (16) , Alabama (34), Montana (41), Missouri 50).
States with the bottom-7-least gun deaths: Rhode Island (13), Massachusetts (5), Hawaii, (6) New Jersey (7), New York (2), Connecticut (4), California, (1).
What was the point again?
It’s not a one-to-one correspondence but the correlation trends strongly in the opposite direction of your claim:
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1380025/us-gun-violence-rate-by-state/
https://everytownresearch.org/rankings/compare/?states=AZ%2CWA

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
24 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Rhode Island 6%
Massachusetts 12%
Hawaii 12%
New Jersey 13%
New York 13%
Connecticut – 10%,
California 7%
Mississippi 38%
Alabama 19%
Louisiana 32%
I have listed the percentage of African-Americans in each state, so you can check the correlation between that and most gun deaths.

Of course, Montana is very white and 86% of gun deaths in Montana are suicides.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Ok, good data. There’s also a strong correlation between being black and being poor at work. More poor whites turn to violent crime than the better off among us–yeah? More deaths among whites are probably due to fentanyl and meth use these days. And suicide as you mention.
Are you saying the gun problem is mostly color based? And whether or not that is your implied assertion: What can we do about the insane amount of gun violence in our country, preferably without targeting people according to skin-tone association?
“There are three kind of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” -(attributed to) Benjamin Disraeli”
Still, numbers can tend to undermine or tend to confirm certain easily-made claims. They can also be selected in an honest way. Worth a try, even if it’s in doomed response to some here who think anyone who dissents from a list of Rightist talking points is allergic to facts and data (which are not exact synonyms).

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
24 days ago
Reply to  Jae

Are you sure that they all get reported?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Jae

No they don’t

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Don’t you mean international? Look to Mexico with the strictest of laws, or the Scandinavian states which, I understand, are very loose. I suggest that enforcement of whatever laws are in place has more to do with consequences than specific laws. We have legal insanity in the US, wherein lawlessness is often excused for the sake of ideology and political advantage.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
24 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

I’m not sure where you got the idea Scandinavia had loose gun laws, they’re as strict as most other countries. You need to obtain a firearms license (only certain activities qualify for one such as hunting or sport shooting) which has strict conditions on the use and storage of any guns, which can be revoked at any time

Dana Montroy
Dana Montroy
23 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

He was being sarcastic. It is near impossible to get a gun legally in Chicago and yet they have the highest amount of gun violence. The reality is that when guns are made illegal, only criminals will have guns.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  Dana Montroy

It would seem the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Guns are here to stay in America.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

In Chicago in March there were 156 shootings, with 190 victims, a 28% increase over March 2023. Oh, and 46 homicides.

Geoffrey Kolbe
Geoffrey Kolbe
25 days ago

“The problem is the wrong people having guns”
And who defines who “the wrong people” are?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
25 days ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

Easy. After they’ve shot the school up you’ll know you’ve given guns to the wrong people

Tony
Tony
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If only.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A lot of Americans seem to think it’s better to let 99 guns “roam free” than to unjustly lock up one gun earmarked for a “good guy”. A perversion of the anti-death penalty logic that prefers 99 defendants given leniency over one wrongful state-sponsored killing.
*Why is erring on the side of actual caution–above orthodox safeguarding of extreme individual liberty–considered anti-American by so many of us?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well said.

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

“And who defines who “the wrong people” are?”
Ideally it should be the ‘well regulated militia.’ If armed citizens were required to know each other, train each other for safety, and encourage each other (“Guys, you know that suicide by guns hurts us all, right?”) then many of the problems would be diminished. “Oh, you want to own a gun? We don’t know you. Come to the meetings and we’ll chat over pizza and soda. Or, come to our BBQ next month, bring your parents.” Police ought to be required to be active members.
The alternatives don’t work. Most of the crazies pass background checks because they have no paper trail (the Parkland shooter was a notable exception, but his trail was erased to give him a fresh start in life. We can’t have it both ways). Everyone calls for ‘tougher’ background checks, but no one wants to pay for the door to door interviews of neighbors and teachers that would be required to make that work.
You can be sure that if a crazy in settled 1830 America had a gun his neighbors would have disarmed him, and the local judge would have backed them up if the crazy complained.
Gun ownership is an individual right, but it serves both individual and collective purposes. Therefore a gun owner is a CITIZEN, and should be required to act like one.
Of course, this idea won’t fly because too many across the political spectrum would fear such a militia, even if it adopted the ethics of volunteer firemen. They want the ‘unorganized militia’ of current Federal law.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
24 days ago

All that reasoning, just to toss it aside for a gratuitous poke at Trump. You almost had an argument, flawed though it was.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
24 days ago

So relieved that, finally, in the last two paragraphs, the author decided to reveal his real motives and get to the point. It was about Trump all along.

Arthur King
Arthur King
24 days ago

The sovereignty of the individual may have a side effect of violence, but this does not necessarily negate the ideology since the benefits of freedom from enslavement by state sovereignty is worth that price. Additionally, the author ignores a large source of violence in the USA which is honor subcultures. As per the work of Thomas Sowell, we know that The South was strongly influenced by Ulster Scot culture. Both whites and blacks. These honor cultures still thrive throughput large American cities and if one excludes large American cities fr9m gun violence data, the levels of violence become comparable with other first world nations. We see the strong association of honor cultures to violence in the UK as well. Knife violence is often associated with middle eastern immigrants.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
24 days ago

Yep, had to shoe horn a Trump dig into an article ostensibly about Columbine but ultimately about our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
Harris and Klebold were determined to kill and they built bombs to do it. Australia’s psychotic recent murderer used a knife. A maniac in California drove his car into a parade. Ghouls roaming NYC subways push strangers onto the tracks. This is very definitely mental illness, no matter what evil mastermind gun enthusiast description you use to deflect that fact.
Law enforcement officers often know who these killers are well in advance, as the author himself admits, or have no training in how to deal with real-time threats. Maybe start there, and leave your superfluous snark about Donald Trump in your own angry diary.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago

Feeney absolutely tacked his at-most-tangentially related opinion of Trump onto the conclusion. An unfortunate and predictable choice–a shoehorn-horniness he’s indulged in some part of every article he’s done for UnHerd.
As always, it enables viewpoint-hardened readers like you to more easily dismiss his main argument: Too many guns are made too easily available in our violent nation.
Of course stabbings, etc. and even shootings can still occur in a society with strict gun laws, and it’s a good thing that cop had a gun on her. But the Australian murder rate has gone down dramatically since tougher gun laws were implemented, from over 2 per 100K in 1999 to .74 per 100K last year, with .1 per 100K deaths by firearm in 2023–one in a million.
https://www.macrotrends.net/global-metrics/countries/AUS/australia/murder-homicide-rate#:~:text=Australia%20murder%2Fhomicide%20rate%20for,a%204.59%25%20increase%20from%202017.
https://knoema.com/atlas/Australia/Number-of-homicides
The U.S. murder rate has held pretty steady since the turn of the century: a bit under 6 per 100K for most years from 1999 and 2023. But mass shootings (defined as three or more killed in a public place) are way up over the same period: 5 and 1 in 1999, 2000; 12 in both 2022 and 2023.
https://www.axios.com/2023/12/28/us-murder-violent-crime-rates-drop
https://www.statista.com/statistics/811487/number-of-mass-shootings-in-the-us/
And we all know that many of the body counts have been more horrific this century, both on school campuses and in other public places like that Las Vegas concert and that Orlando nightclub.
What do you propose we do about our gun-culture madness, if anything?

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
23 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Logic. There are around 400 million privately owned firearms in the USA, or more than one for every man woman and child. That’s what Europeans can’t understand. Every sensible adult who wants one can own a gun, just like every American 16 year old can drive a car, which driven at 50 mph on a city street can (and does) kill.
Yes, the number of mass school shootings has increased greatly in the last 20 years, but still literally a handful per year exclusively in areas where guns are not legal to carry. The author named the famous ones: Columbine, Parkland, Uvalde… Yet only now are people talking sensibly about how to respond to a maniacal shooter, when the answer is obviously, effectively trained and armed security guards in schools. Every day we see police in the street with a holstered side-arm. That isn’t scary. It’s normal.
What has changed in America is grievance politics. The great Unifier, Barack Obama came to power in 2008 for 8 years, and his cause of Black retribution on the white patriarchy still drives the Democrat party. The number of guns has not increased. What has increased is resentment and anarchy, the mainstream media defending violence and narcissistic protest (even self immolation this week) for which theatrical gun violence is just another expression. The culture of healthy respect for safety and property rights is going up in smoke. Don’t blame it on the guns. Blame it on the rhetoric of protest.

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

“There are around 400 million privately owned firearms in the USA…”
This is why the author’s comments on criminal activity is just so woeful. The guns in criminal hands are not going to go away. Any gun control law that claims to do so is a case of the proverbial barn door being locked after the horse is long gone. It is simply too late to achieve what the author wants.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
22 days ago
Reply to  Tom D

What do you want to do, pack heat everywhere you go or throw your hands up (don’t shoot please) about all the things we supposedly can’t do and shouldn’t even try?

Tom D
Tom D
22 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Try what? What could possibly work?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
21 days ago
Reply to  Tom D

There’s your own true answer. Why even comment from a place of such fatalistic futility?
Make it harder for everyone to get a gun and easier to remove them from the hands of people who’ve misused their gun-owning privileges. It won’t solve everything but it will make a dent, as the Australian crackdown amply demonstrated
What is genuinely woeful is your automatic claim that nothing will work–for damn sure it won’t with that kind of reflexive pessimism, disguised as sensible realism. We need to make a society-wide dent in that kind of false hopelessness and bullshit failure to act too.

Tom D
Tom D
21 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The Australian situation is in no way comparable to the American situation.
Admit it: you have no real answer to my questions. YOU are the promoter of false hopes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
21 days ago
Reply to  Tom D

You seem to regard all hope a false on this issue. You cling to a false hopelessness, which you for some reason want to promote and spread. Most of the nation hasn’t made a real enough effort at gun control to earn the defeated cry: “well we tried, it’s hopeless”. You should be able to admit that.
Australia is certainly not the same but it is a multiethnic Western nation with many wide open spaces, plus socioeconomic and criminal problems that are partly due to racism and exploitation of the indigenous population.
So in some legitimate ways, Australia’s former and now reduced gun problems are comparable.
They must have fewer gun access absolutists though. What is it that you get from declaring the situation hopeless, as if that were some established fact, let alone in any way a useful claim?

Tom D
Tom D
20 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Those ‘gun access absolutists’ ARE part of the real differences. You will have to kill a lot of them to get what you want.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago
Reply to  Tom D

Fair enough point there.
I still say that instead we try to “love ’em to death”–or at least to the point here they re-schedule their insurrections and public mass shootings to a later date.
Harm reduction isn’t trivial. Despair is a sin.

B Rider
B Rider
11 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The US is already blatantly not following our own laws. Making guns illegal, or making them almost impossible to legally obtain, will not remove or prevent criminals from having/obtaining them. Just like drugs which have been illegal forever, the illegality of it has not prevented widespread circulation, use, addiction, ruined lives, death. They are in most of our middle-high schools! If laws can’t make a dent in preventing the many deaths, including of children, from illegal drugs, I don’t see why it would be any different with guns being illegal or extremely hard to obtain. Laws which can’t (or won’t) be enforced are just stupid to create and we have enough of those on the books already.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
22 days ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

You pretend the MSM speaks with one voice, for example on the guy who burned himself to death. The CNN and NYT coverage I saw was stark or horrified in tone–not celebratory at all.
Characterizing Obama’s cause as “Black retribution on the white patriarchy” is absurd. He is half-white and was raised by his single white mother, whom he adored. With a few exception like the Trayvon Martin incident, he did attempt a unifying, peaceful approach on race. Whatever he did was always going to be too much or not enough for some white Americans.
I don’t blame guns themselves for crime or killings, but more than one for every man woman and child is too many. It doesn’t matter that the number hasn’t risen much from the ridiculous total of 400 million. Gun crime in America has been rampant by developed-world standard for many decades, under 10 or more presidents. You think the number and easy availability of guns is no part of the problem, and that more guns in more places is the solution? I hope Wayne LaPierre got the Christmas card you sent him.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago

Mental illness has become such a broad label. It should be just bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the kind that causes psychotic episodes. Except there are narcissistic personality disorders, the kind that Trump has, where the person may not actually use a gun but can certainly persuade others to do so.

Chuck de Batz
Chuck de Batz
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

why bipolar disorder?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Then there’s just the all too common and work-a-day angry marital moment, with a gun handy. Like when a family friend, in the midst of a rare argument with his wife, was so traumatized by it that he grabbed a nearby gun and shot his head off in front of his wife and two children. Never have happened then or later with no gun, any amount of ‘what if’ speculation notwisthanding.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago

Exactly. It’s just too easy in a moment of rage, when the blood is boiling and one has a gun, to use it. They’re made to be used not just admired.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago

How many times have there been mass murders in Australia with knives or guns? And how many mass murders have there been with vehicles in America?

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
23 days ago

Trump is an intellectual midget and an almost perfect caricature of an unserious person, a buffoon with power, money and influence. I can’t forget that, even as it hits me in the gut that I’ll be forced to voter for him again.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
24 days ago

“The only real confirmation your kid is one of the wrong people is when he goes to his school with some of your guns and murders a bunch of other kids.”
This is a straw man argument. There are degrees of knowing that your child is mentally unstable. In all the major shootings mentioned in this piece, the parents were complicit to some degree. Holding parents accountable for their neglect or outright active assistance in the killings would be a good first step

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago

Exactly, and thank goodness that first step has been taken by convicting Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbly who shot and killed 4 fellow students in Michigan. Awful people.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
24 days ago

So statistically rare school shooters, criminals robbing and shooting at people, and police exercising due caution in interactions with citizens (who supposedly are required to prostrate themselves to avoid seeming dangerous) are somehow expressions of the same thing – too many people with too many guns. And beyond that, a demonstrated homicidal psychopath in Columbine and the horrific Parkland and Uvalde exceptions to the now very standard police practice of rapidly engaging school/mass shooters show that our gun-heavy culture is intrinsically dangerous and distorting, but that “Republican politicians, and other small-government conservatives and libertarians” only want to fight the problem by “arguing for comprehensive national monitoring of everyone’s mental health,” which is an absurd allegation. Meanwhile the writer very kindly grants us the ability to hunt and own firearms to protect our homes (as long as they are locked up, presumably required by law), but not out in the world, where the vast majority of crime actually happens and where police response is at best minutes away when crime happens on a time frame measured in seconds. Bottom line – tens of millions of Americans legally own guns but never use them in any sort of criminal violence. Effectively punishing them for the actions of a small number of violent cretins is both irrational and unfair. https://www.wsj.com/articles/we-need-guns-before-the-cops-arrive-1497821819?st=pal5ipjrh0hegeu&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

What kind of people need to own guns? There is good quality of life without one.I’ve never known anyone who owns a gun or even wants to.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Please feel free to not own a gun if you prefer. Have a good day.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

My goodness, you have a narrow range of acquaintances. Goes right along with your narrow little mind.

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
24 days ago

Until the author wrote this tripe, below, I was really hoping he might suggest a miracle cure to the gun issue. So I shall suggest it – get rid of the guns, you idiots.
Oh and here’s a small data point for you – the UK has 70m people and about 40 gun homicides last year – the US has about 330m and 43,000 gun deaths…….can anyone see any correlation there between the place where guns are illegal and the place where there are more guns than people? anyone, anyone, Bueller?
I’m not even anti-gun, in any total sense. Some of my siblings and some of my best friends own gun…. I don’t think law-abiding citizens should be prevented from owning a gun to protect their homes. 

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

Oh, good; one more person wielding the ban hammer. We once got rid of booze. It worked so well that prohibition was repealed. Then we banned drugs which continues failing today. Same with prostitution and on and on. In the UK, you folks went down the road of regulating the types of knives people could buy, as if the issue was the implement and not people misusing it. 
When does the light bulb come on and you realize that it’s not about objects, but people? Guns are hardly new. Mass events are. Did the guns suddenly develop magical powers that coerced unwilling users into committing unspeakable acts? By the way, at least half of US gun deaths are suicides. Should we follow Canada’s lead and have the state do that? And the US has one other thing the UK lacks, in the tens of millions. But we’re not allowed to discuss how 13% of the population accounts for more than 50% of the murders.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Address the question Bueller. Why do you need to own anything other then a non automatic hunting rifle?

Hand guns and automatic rifles are for shooting people. By your reasoning we should all be able to own cluster bombs as its 13% of the population with mental health issues are the issue.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yet first world countries don’t have mass shootings. Why is that?

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“Guns are hardly new. Mass events are. Did the guns suddenly develop magical powers that coerced unwilling users into committing unspeakable acts?”
We need to recognize that non-jihad mass shootings are Herostratic crimes driven by media exposure of the killers. We can’t outlaw the exposure, but certainly media ethics can be devised, much like those that protect the privacy of sexual assault victims.
“By the way, at least half of US gun deaths are suicides. Should we follow Canada’s lead and have the state do that?”
Sure, that IS what some want. Why? Less of a mess. After 9/11 a lovely lady asked me “Why couldn’t they shoot the planes down?” I replied “Why not arm the pilots?” She was horrified: “Somebody might get hurt!” See? A wounded bloodied passenger moaning in first class is worse than hundreds of passengers disappearing in a fireball. When we finally build a Terminator he will be programmed to say “I’ll be back with the paper towels.”
“And the US has one other thing the UK lacks, in the tens of millions. But we’re not allowed to discuss how 13% of the population accounts for more than 50% of the murders.”
But to be fair, the 13% accounts for a fair number of the victims, and many are innocent victims.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

How many homes have actually been protected by guns? Or needed to be?

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Oh, many. I know of a retired doctor who lived in Homestead Florida. When Hurricane Andrew hit the looters moved in. There was no way to call the police – in fact it was two weeks before any police were seen. The doctor and his neighbors used their guns to ‘dissuade’ the looters without any shots being fired. And they had every right to do so, since looters can easily become rapists and murderers.
Large natural disasters are one of the biggest reasons why a ‘well regulated’ militia is useful. Too bad the U.S. has by Federal law an ‘unorganized militia’ in violation of the stated purpose found in the Constitution.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
24 days ago

In predictable fashion, what begins as an interesting look at the psyche of a psychopath deviates into the usual “but the gunz” hysteria. From Eric Harris to the Parkland shooter and several others in between, we learn in the aftermath of some evidence of mental instability, yet the default response is one more gun law.

It’s tedious. It blames objects while ignoring human agency. It discounts culture, which has profoundly changed since the days when students left loaded hunting rifles in their truck racks while in class. Look around. Kids assault teachers and nothing happens. Their behavior and failure are excused as by products of ‘systemic’ something or other.

There are a lot of things we don’t “share with other countries:” single parent homes, labeling everything from grammar to math as evidence of white supremacy, and a pervasive victim culture that removes accountability from one’s actions. We have gone backward since the civil rights era but people like Feeny focus their fear on inanimate metal objects.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

If the guns aren’t available, the kids will use a knife or their fists. So some cuts or a broken nose rather then 10 dead.
If that were the case those kids could be in class and learn the math. Or perhaps in English learning the correct way to short mathematics is to call it maths.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Because the same level of violence doesn’t exist in other first-world countries. Simple as that.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Russia from 1917 to 1950? Germany from 1933 to 1945? China from the mid-60s to now? Cambodia in the late 60s to mid 70s? Haiti now? Is all this secondary to mental illness? What about the mother, in Brothers Karamazov, who stripped her own little daughter naked, on a bitter cold winter night, forcing the child to sit most of night in an outhouse, as mom slept quietly in her warm bed? Mental illness is wishful thinking.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
23 days ago

The Brothers Karamazov is psychological fiction. But, yes, I should have been more specific. I made a sweeping generalization. I should have specified gun violence.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
24 days ago

‘Instead, we can just focus on the fact that it’s Donald Trump at the mic, telling us we need to get serious about mental health in this country, that the root cause of a grave public policy problem is something to be tackled not by the police, or by Donald Trump’s best guys, but by psychotherapists.’
The projection is strong with this one….
Under President Biden , plans are in place to have problems tackled not by the police, but by psychotherapists.

‘ In one of its final acts of the year, the House passed bipartisan legislation late Wednesday that would empower law enforcement agencies across the country to adopt de-escalation training when encountering individuals with mental health issues as part of an effort to reduce the number of officer-involved fatalities.’

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

That’s about practical strategies for dealing with the number of un-tethered Americans police encounter, especially when we, in effect, outsource so many mental health interventions to law enforcement However piecemeal or imperfect, it’s an attempt to actually reduce needless deaths.
Trump’s comment and similar remarks from people in authority, while not fundamentally untrue, amount to an evasion of meaningful action and an abdication of duty to the non-lobbyist public.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

It’s a start but it’s not good enough. There needs to be a whole new job category of mental health workers to work along side the police, not just expect the police to know what they’re doing when they don’t. PAs are being used more and more in lieu of doctors and psychiatrists. To be on call to work along side police in mental health crisis situations would seem to be a valuable new job description.

Jae
Jae
24 days ago

The article was good, until the author fell into the usual, and by now boring, trap of having to denigrate Trump along the way. No idea why this psychosis affects so many journalists, but it does. Maybe that’s worth studying too.

AC Harper
AC Harper
24 days ago

You can argue that much stricter gun control (or ammunition control) would make the USA a better place. But the gun genie is out of the bottle and if you stopped the sale of guns completely there are already enough in circulation to undo all your good intentions. The border is pretty porous too.
As long as the criminals and psychopaths are armed the police will want to be armed too. I can’t say I blame them.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
24 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This is the salient point. Even if gun sales could be completely outlawed, it would take a massive, totalitarian police state to eliminate the 500,000,000 (if that is an accurate figure) guns in existence. Another problem is that the same Democratic politicians who want gun control also want open borders and no cooperation between local police and border patrol agents.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  DA Johnson

Not true.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Oh? What part’s not true?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago

Of course even taking every gun from individual Americans gun owners won’t prevent our rampant outbursts of violence, let alone turn our cities into a candyland cakewalk. But 2nd Amendment fundamentalism has gone way too far. Stronger limits and higher thresholds of training, sanity, and demonstrated mostly-half-decent conduct are needed. Then we can refuse more sales and seize more guns in obviously-wrong hands of any color.
Better rules have to be voted in by the citizenry, and robustly enforced (at gunpoint sometimes!), with a concerted, independently-monitored effort at fairness across economic, social, and ethnic lines. A few barriers could be federal, but most will have to be state by state, as with abortion laws. We are in NO imminent danger of doing too much to restrict access to firearms. We are doing almost nothing and that needs to change.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Absolutely except there should be no abortion laws. It’s my body.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

None at all? An abortion at 38 weeks or during labor while five families beg to adopt the would-be child?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
23 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

No AJ, none at all. So what if a family wants a baby? They shouldn’t get one just because a woman, or child, was forced to have one they didn’t want. Let them pay someone to be a surrogate. It may be hard for a man to grasp the concept that it’s my body and it’s none of your business what I do with it. Try to imagine if it was you. What if you were told you couldn’t have a vasectomy if you wanted one, or you couldn’t use Viagra because it isn’t safe?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
23 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

That’s pretty extreme and hardhearted Clare.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
23 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Hardhearted? To whom? Extreme in what way?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Toward a fully formed human being about to be born, in the example I put to you.
Third trimester terminations should never be needed, except in non-viable pregnancies and threats to the pregnant woman’s life.
15 weeks seems like ample to make that life or death choice. Or certainly the age of 50-percent viability: 26 weeks. After that window closes, adoption.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Fully formed fetuses aborted has been so rare but it’s used as an excuse to ban all abortions.You’re a man, who are you to say what women can or cannot do with their bodies? And Judaism says Life begins after birth.
I’m with you on most things, AJ, so, please, try to get a broader perspective on this issue, rather than fixating on other people’s fetuses.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
21 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I recognize it’s rare, but I put that extreme example to you to test whether you could relax your hardline all-or-nothing stance–which evidently you can’t.
I’m not “fixated on people’s fetuses”, Clare (c’mon!), nor am I an anti-abortion absolutist, or any kind of single-issue voter. We do agree on a lot, but not everything, and that should be OK.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
20 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Neither the government or the pope should be allowed to tell anyone what they can or can’t do with their bodies, and that includes suicide.

laura m
laura m
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Your logic Clare fails, a woman carries a fetus which by definition is another “body”. 70% of Americans do not support late term abortions.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  laura m

Then they don’t have to have one. Late-term abortions are rare and are sometimes necessary if the fetus has an abnormality or some other reason. It’s not something anyone looks forward to. There is so much child abuse in this world perhaps you could focus on that.

laura m
laura m
24 days ago

Typical confused, elaborate (babbling) writing from an over-educated Oakland leftists. Trump is right, we have a serious task ahead to continue reforms to the nation’s mental health care system. Witness Feeney’s TDS for example. One only needs to read Andrew Pollack’s book “Why Meadow Died” to understand how flawed Prog school policies (Obama) damage school safety.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  laura m

Would Trump spend money on much needed social services?

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Has Biden? Or has he just wasted our money on ill-conceived green projects? Like EV charging stations. Politico said on December 5, 2023:
“Congress at the urging of the Biden administration agreed in 2021 to spend $7.5 billion to build tens of thousands of electric vehicle chargers across the country, aiming to appease anxious drivers while tackling climate change.
Two years later, the program has yet to install a single charger.”
Wow. Just wow.

N T
N T
24 days ago

what a weird essay. it looked, for a hot second, like it might be insightful, but no.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
24 days ago
Reply to  N T

Grow up outside of North America and the article makes sense.
My Dad hunted. Gun locked in one place, bolt and ammunition locked in a different place, police come and check.
No automatic rifles and no pistols (as they are specifically designed for shooting people) and people are pretty down with that system and no one gets shot at school.
We look at the states and ask wtf? You don’t need to own a gun to defend your property if the guy next to you doesn’t own one.

I’m stumped on how you get rid of all the guns you have though

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

“I’m stumped on how you get rid of all the guns you have though”
That’s exactly the problem. It’s too late.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  Tom D

Exactly, I also think it’s too late.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
24 days ago

In Chicago last month alone, March 2024, there were 46 homicides, 156 shootings and 190 victims, a 28% rise over March last year. Chicago has a black Democrat mayor, a black Democrat Police Chief, and a black Democrat DA; it’s a one party city, which has defunded the police, decarcerated violent criminals, and refuses to ‘demonise’ the demographic most responsible for the mayhem. OK, let’s hear where Trump fits in.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
24 days ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

So the article is about mass killings by kids using guns in schools. Aren’t most of the shootings done by white kids?

laura m
laura m
24 days ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

No. easy for you to research online. NPR is not reliable
An Examination of US School Mass Shootings, 2017–2022: Findings and Implicationshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9388351/
Conclusions: Recent data suggest continued upward trends in school shootings, school mass shootings, and related deaths over the past 5 years. Notably, gun violence disproportionately affects boys, especially Black boys, with much higher gun deaths per capita for this group than for any other group of youth. Implications for policy and practice are provided.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  laura m

They shoot each other not mass shootings in school. We should be grateful for small mercies!!

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Read the title of the cited paper. They shoot each other in school.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
22 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

No they don’t.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
22 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You read the paper? No, you didn’t. Look at Figure 2. In every year listed, there were far more school shooting deaths than mass school shooting deaths.

Tom D
Tom D
23 days ago
Reply to  laura m

Young black shooters typically drop out of school. They don’t hate school, school is irrelevant to them.

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
22 days ago
Reply to  laura m

So that’s kids getting shot. What about the kids pulling the trigger

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

Yes, white, male kids. So what’s that all about?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
24 days ago

On the night of May 17, 1927, a farmer in Bath, Michigan, who was part-time treasurer of the local school district killed his wife and spent the rest of the night packing 500 pounds of explosives and wiring into the basement of both wings of the schoolhouse with a master line going out to where he parked his car. A bank was about to foreclose on his farm, which he blamed on school taxes. His revenge of this calm and ordinary man was to blow up the wing holding the third through sixth grades; the explosives in the other part of the building failed to ignite. Eyewitnesses said Andrew Kehoe gloated as the bodies of 42 children flew in the air. Another 90 or so were trapped in the wreckage. If the other wing had gone up the death toll would have been in the hundreds. The school superintendent rushed to Kehoe’s car and grappled with him, but the “maniac”, as the New York Times described him, fired a gun at the trunk of his car loaded with more explosives and the blast killed him, the superintendent and a third person. It was the largest and most cold-blooded slaughter of children in the nation’s history but few remember it today. Until Freud’s humbug persuaded people that supreme acts of evil somehow could be explained by brain or personality disorders, they believed for millennia that Satanic possession was a sufficient explanation. Freud’s explanation had the advantage of seeming more sophisticated in the march of time. Evil has always been with us and so has Lucifer. C.S. Lewis said his success in making himself a figure of ridicule and fun has been his greatest modern triumph.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
24 days ago

I’m curious, in this excellent essay, why the author said that Columbine was not the first time an armed person shot up a school. What shootings? I began teaching in the late eighties, and I don’t have any memory of such an incident. The only one I remember is the 1979 “I hate Mondays” shooting—by a mentally Iill woman—outside an elementary school. She killed a custodian and the principal. Also, I think everyone should know about Wayne La Pierre’s other statement concerning Sandy Hook: “That’s the price we pay ( the shredded bodies of six year old children) for freedom.” Finally, A well-regulated militia.

laura m
laura m
24 days ago

A good example of a “what if” law enforcement action this past week.
“18-year-old Andrea Ye, who identifies as ‘Alex Ye’ and is accused of writing a 129-page manifesto, detailed a desire to attack a Montgomery County elementary school because ‘little kids make easier targets,’ according to police.”

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
24 days ago

I think Donald Trump sounded exactly like himself.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
24 days ago

I say let’s go bigger. Let’s ban the gubmint child custodial facilities. Remember, dear old Horace Mann promised back in the 19th century that the “common school” would reduce crime by 90%.
I say only neighborhood women are allowed to run schools. And any kid that wants to stay in school after age 12 has to crawl on his knees over broken glass.