by Paul Moomjean 

If there has been one major issue the country has been debating hard during my adult life, it’s been gun violence and gun control. Since the 1999 Columbine school shootings there have been approximately 170 mass shootings ranging from schools to malls to massage parlors. Gun violence in America is a real threat. While crime has gone down, the horror of watching mass shootings play out has gone up. In 2000 there were 3 mass shootings. By 2017, there were 22. If you look at overall shootings (both mass shootings and one-on-one shootings), 2020 alone produced 615 events, and that was with most people locked in the house. 

Gun violence doesn’t have easy solutions, because the heart of the crime isn’t about getting something. It’s a matter dealing with fear, embarrassment and other abstract measures. While President Joe Biden is rolling out a new wave of executive orders concerning guns, the real issue won’t stop until we look at the contributing factors that go beyond having a gun.  

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic.  Let me say it again: Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden stressed from the White House garden. 

“No amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” Biden maintained. “You can’t yell […] ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech. From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. From the very beginning that the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons. So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution.”

This is where the two camps disagree. The National Rifle Association (NRA) camp wants limited restrictions, and the opposition wants more restrictions. No one is banning guns. Yet shouldn’t there be a difference between the type of ammo citizens can purchase and trained military and police officers are able to use? That seems fair. 

I understand no law will stop the illegal transferring of arms, but I don’t think this is about the law breakers. Gangs, mobsters and criminal organizations aren’t committing these mass shootings. It’s everyday citizens. It’s our neighbors. Gangs go after gangs. They don’t go into schools and malls. What Biden wants to do is stop the rise in shootings where Joe Nobody tries to prove he’s a somebody. One way is to restrict arms enhancement kits. 

“The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable,” said Biden. 

It’s true no law would have prevented the shooting, as most of these shooters pass all federal background checks. Yet there appear to be common factors that we as a society could address to combat these trends. 

On his weekly HBO show <em>Real Time with Bill Maher,</em> Maher points out that these men are “incels” aka involuntary celibates. Plagued by religious guilt and/or a superiority complex, believing they deserve sex from the women in their lives, they take it out on others in the most Freudian way possible, with a large pistol. 

Others want to blame mental illness, which is offensive to the bipolar and mentally unstable communities that don’t go out and shoot people due to social frustration. But had many of these unstable men been treated by doctors, they might have been able to control those emotions that they lash out with so horrifically. 

What makes these two common threads so hard for men to address is the stigma attached. When we talk about toxic masculinity, I don’t think of just caveman attitudes, but also the way in which men and women fail to extend grace to those struggling socially to admit their anxiety and fear and get the tools they need to live in a world they can participate in. 

The Guardian reported, “Since 2014, men who call themselves ‘involuntary celibates’ and blame women for their own lack of sexual and social status have carried out mass killings in California, Florida, and Toronto.” 

None of their actions are excusable, but there are reasons, and if we don’t look at those reasons and find avenues for the socially and sexually frustrated, we can make every gun law in the world, but we won’t stop the ticking timebombs waiting to explode.