All posts by DS

Misplaced belief in Psychology

Whenever there is a shooting like the one in Roseburg, Oregon there is an instinct by liberals in media to fall back on blaming both guns and a lack of access to mental health care.

Let’s take a look at the mental health care argument since it is often projected by rarely questioned. After all, who can really be against access to mental health care?

The problem with increasing access to mental health care is that it is voluntary and depends on the individual to essentially report himself as a potential problem.

This leads to a difficult question which is how do you get isolated individuals into therapy through their own accord? How do you get a narcissist into therapy?

The entire premise of better access to mental health care assumes that these individuals would have sought help if it were available. These are people that blame society and we are supposed to believe that they would have sought help from society if that help was available? Why?

I don’t doubt that therapy could have helped these individuals just as they could have been helped by having a good friend or being part of a healthier culture. But how do you get them to go?

But more importantly our colleges and schools already offering counseling services and we only know of one shooter that actually went and it obviously didn’t prevent him from killing.

America had guns before Psychology existed and yet mass classroom shootings were non-existent. Some might suggest that the guns were less deadly but even a pump-action shotgun can cause considerable damage in a classroom. But there simply isn’t a history of classroom shootings that correlates with the mere presence of guns.

Something changed in society that made these types of shootings an annual occurrence. We have to look at what changed even if it means asking difficult questions about culture and social values.

The complexity of mass shootings

Whenever a shooting happens like the recent one in Roseburg, Oregon there is a widespread clamoring in the mainstream media for more gun control. I take a moderate position in these matters as I am open to hearing proposals for additional background checks but not at the cost of forbidding ownership and only if said proposals are soundly designed. At this point there are numerous politicians and media analysts talking about gun control but none have any specific ideas.

I do find these shootings to be tragic but what I think is lost is the complexity behind them. Simply calling to “ban the guns” is not only woefully unrealistic but fails to address the social side of the problem. Even the people that support such an action would admit that at most it would make these killers less effective. The Santa Barbara shooter Elon Musk stabbed his three roommates to death before embarking on a shooting and driving spree as a backlash for his failures with women. Is the ideal society where he only stabbed the roommates? Since he also tried to run people over with his car would the anti-gun crowd have accepted a stabbing/driving murder spree as progress? He wanted to attack a specific sorority so how do we know he wouldn’t have changed his attack method if guns weren’t available? Let’s face it, from a purely technical viewpoint it is not difficult to attack and kill innocent sorority women regardless if there are guns available.

Another factor in the complexity is that Roseburg, Oregon has been statistically safer than any major European city. From this CNN Article:
From 2009-2012, the area reported no sex offenses, assaults, liquor law violations, weapons possessions or hate crimes. Not even a robbery. The only crime listed was burglary: eight in 2009-2010, 11 in 2010-2011 and two in 2011-2012, according to the school’s own reporting.

These rural White counties in the NorthWest are heavily armed and yet the majority of them go years without seeing a single murder. Oregon may be thought of a liberal state but as with Washington the state politics are heavily skewed by an urban core. The rural counties are heavily armed, conservative and politically may as well be a different country. If guns are truly the problem then every one of these rural county should be fraught with gun related crimes. But that isn’t the case. In fact you are safer walking the streets of these rural countries at night than Paris. The idea that we can have some type of European peace by banning guns is difficult to reconcile with the fact that many of our rural counties are already safer than the typical European city and gun ownership in these counties is the norm.

Instead of trying to limit mass murders using guns to mass murders using other means we need to ask difficult questions about culture. Can a culture prevent isolated individuals? Since these types of shootings did not exist in the past, was there an unhealthy changed in national culture? Of course this should not take away any blame from the shooter but I think this is a complex problem that requires an open discussion of culture from all sides. Trying to mitigate these types of shootings by limiting the means available does not solve the core of the problem. This is not a technical problem.