“I have been training with rifles and pistols since the first time my Dad took me to shoot. Age 8. I know the laws to carry. I have spoken with LEO’s about it. I have a lawyer who works with concealed carry cases only. Truth is I’m more responsible than just point and shoot. I know to identify my target and the threat first.”
This is a comment on social media from a man who owns a semi-automatic weapon, and proudly carries it with him (concealed carry permit) every day.
He uses the word “I” 6 times in 7 sentences.
He’s positive that he can use his gun to protect himself and his family, and is prepared to take out a “bad guy” if the situation arises. Because he took a gun training course…or plays first person shooter games…or goes to the shooting range.
He “knows” that he’s different, and special.
He’s arrogant, and proud, and unreasonably confident in his skills, and judgement, and bravery.
He’s a truck driver, or a teacher, or a lawyer–but he “knows” that he’s a hero, and is ready for “his moment.”
This is the toxic masculinity that is fueling this gun violence.
It’s not “violent video games.”
It’s not “the explosion of social media.”
And it’s not “mental health problems.”
The truth is that those with mental health problems are far more likely to be the targets of gun violence than they are to be the perpetrators.
And our friends in Canada, and Australia, and Japan have access to the same social media networks, and video games, that Americans do, yet have virtually no school shootings in their countries.
The “problem” isn’t social media or video games or mental health…
The “problem” is angry, frustrated, scared white men–because it’s overwhelmingly white men who commit these crimes–with an unhealthy obsession with their firearms, who think that packing a semi-automatic weapon makes them a “badass,” or feeds their “rugged cowboy” fantasy, or makes them feel big and strong as they order their latte in the neighborhood coffee shop, or pick their kids up from school, or pick up a quart of milk at the convenience store on their way home from work.
These pistol-packing, testosterone-fueled vigilantes are emboldened by events like the school shooting in Parkland, FL, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine. They are convinced that if they were at the scene of these shootings they would have been able to save those kids, and would have “eliminated the threat,” just as they’ve done countless times in their dreams, and practiced endlessly with their customized game controllers in their man caves.
And the only way to solve the problem of toxic masculinity is to implement gun control reforms.
They won’t like it. They’ll be angry. They’ll demand “their rights.” And they’ll demand to “get their country back.” As we’ve seen angry, frustrated white men doing in Charlottesville, and Congress, and in the White House.
And as we do whenever we face an awful problem in this country, we can send them our thoughts and prayers.