Chattanooga and our national schizophrenia on mass shootings

Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday in Chattanooga.   (AP Photo / John Bazemore)

Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday in Chattanooga. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)

First things first: Prayers for the good people of Chattanooga. This is appropriate in every instance of tragedy or horrific crime, but the murder of four Marines on Thursday hits a little closer to home for me. I have probably spent more time in Chattanooga than any other city I haven’t lived in. I grew up about 30 miles south of there, and it was often said that the only thing to do in Dalton was to go to Chattanooga. It’s a lovely city that over the past two or three decades has re-imagined itself in a way most other places can only dream of, an achievement that speaks well of the people who live there. Those people need prayers right now, even, of course, if you’ve never set foot in Hamilton County.

After the prayers will come, as usual, a deep look at how something like this could happen, and what we could do to prevent another one. And if past experience is any guide, this examination and any debate it sparks will look and sound different from what comes after many other mass shootings. It won’t focus mostly on gun control.

That’s because the shooter, identified by authorities as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez of nearby Hixson, Tennessee, is presumed by many to have committed an act of Islamic terrorism. Any links between Abdulazeez, who also died Thursday, and terrorist organizations are still being explored. But Abdulazeez reportedly traveled to Jordan for several months last year, and may have made other trips to the Middle East; he is also said to have been born in Kuwait, so that could explain at least some of the trips. Exactly which weapon Abdulazeez used, and how he got it, will be of some note. But that will almost certainly get less attention than his motives as a likely jihadist, and we are unlikely to see the crime used as a rallying cry for clamping down on gun sales.

Similarly, last month’s terrible shooting in Charleston, which left nine people dead, has led to the end of a decades-long presence of the Confederate battle flag at South Carolina’s state capitol but caused barely a blip regarding gun control. President Obama brought up the issue almost immediately, yet it has scarcely received attention since then. Instead, the focus is drawn to Dylann Roof’s motives based on his public embrace of the symbols of white supremacists.

So there seems to be a significant degree of public acceptance that, when Islamic terrorism or racial hatred is at work, the type of weapon used is almost a footnote. This is probably because it is widely documented that Islamic terrorists have used a variety of weapons to carry out attacks, as have white supremacists. The most infamous attack on a black church, recall, was a bombing: of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, killing four young girls. Instead, however superficial the object of focus might be — the battle flag didn’t make Roof kill nine people at Emanuel AME Church, even if it was time for it to be taken down in Columbia — it seems to be broadly understood that we should prioritize addressing the reasons someone might do something so awful, not the tools they would use to do it.

By coincidence, the attack in Chattanooga took place on the same day James Eagan Holmes was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 people dead and many more wounded. While jurors rejected Holmes’ defense that he was legally insane at the time of the shooting, there is little question he suffered from some kind of mental illness — just like the killers at Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Tucson and so many other places.

Why we focus on racism and jihad more than guns in some shootings, but guns more than mental illness in others, is something of a mystery. Severe mental illnesses like the ones involved in those shootings are difficult to address, no doubt. But their existence is no more intractable (and arguably less so) than the scourges of racism or jihad, or the prevalence of guns. If we reluctantly accept that terrorists or white supremacists will find some means of killing the objects of their hatred, it is hard to believe schizophrenics would be held in check without access to an arbitrary list of certain firearms. It’s a kind of national schizophrenia on our part that we recognize it’s the motive, not the means, in some cases but not others.

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106 comments
lvg
lvg

Young male  Muslims who travel to the Mideast returning and easily  buying Ak-47s to shoot and kill US soldiers who fought to contain Muslim fanatics-


Something is terribly wrong with that picture. Tell me the killer (whose name I will not honor) is part of a "well regulated militia" deserving second amendment protections??????????????????

Linkster#13
Linkster#13

It is mental illness, not guns or flags.  Enough of the irrational attacks on guns and flags.  In London, where there are no guns, there are up to 1000 knife attacks monthly.  The problems are mental illness, the lack of character formation, a lack of discipline, a lack of moral and ethical training of our youth.  I don't think it is a coincidence that as our nation and govt trash and discard religion, our society becomes less orderly, less polite, more chaotic and crime-ridden.  When the sanctity of life no longer exists - killing 47 million babies via abortion since Roe v Wade, it is not hard to understand that life has lost its value, and violent crimes increase in the groups where abortion is the primary means of birth control.  If you see murder everyday, it becomes commonplace, it becomes the routine method of solving conflict in stressful situations.  

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

"It’s a kind of national schizophrenia on our part that we recognize it’s the motive, not the means, in some cases but not others."


No, it is not a "national schizophrenia".  It is the politically correct ideology of the national "news" media that pushes one story line and ignores another.


Black inner cities that resemble a war zone.  Silence.


Black murders white.  No mention of race.


Black attacks white police officer and gets shot.  New media whip blacks into a "black lives matter" frenzy, resulting in numerous riots and deaths.


Black police officer shoots unarmed white man.  Barely gets mentioned in local news.


White murders several blacks in a church.  News media, including our very own "conservative blogger" Kyle, focuses on a flag.


Illegal alien, who had been deported FIVE times, murders an American.  Not a peep from the mainstream news about the thousands of American citizens who have lost their lives to this state sponsored scourge.


Muslim shoots several soldiers.  News media ignores the tens of thousands of muslims that have been allowed to enter this country since 9/11 and the very real threat that many could be associated with terror cells.


America has been subjected to nearly fifty years of non-stop, politically correct propaganda.  Khrushchev would be proud that his prediction has almost been realized.

justpassinthru
justpassinthru

If I am the one whose # comes up as a statistic I want to meet the evil with equal force. We are America, not Canada, England, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, France or Germany. What would any of those countries be were it not for America. It is sickening the endless apologies that are made by the law abiding citizens of a free country to appease evil lawbreakers and social reformers.

sp60
sp60

This article is typical for the AJC, and the gun control lobby's shill media in general. 


The who cry-baby tone about how it's not all about gun control is typical. But the actual reason isn't because some 'them' wants to talk about jihadis and terrorists instead of gun control. 


Just like in the case of the recent church shooting, the fundamental take-away from these crimes is that these gun free zones, something the gun control industry has pushed for decades, that these zones KILL.


In both cases the victims were disarmed by law, something that their killers knew to be true. 


The gun control industry has complete control over it's lackeys in the media. If they wanted to drum up a Sandy Hook level of anti-gun propaganda, they most certainly could. 


However they realize that at the root, these shootings, in fact most mass attacks here, are their fault. 


They don't particularly care about the loss of life. In fact they always try and use a tragedy for some kind of political gain. 


But in this case the facts are so obviously against them, having our armed force's premier riflemen gunned down because they couldn't be legally armed while on duty, the collective judgement of the gun control lobby will be to turn the nation's attention somewhere else. 


That's how we ended up with the Confederate flag brouhaha. It was illegal for anyone in that church to have a self-defense weapon on them, and the attacker knew it. 


So rather than have that (and the whole failed background check process) be thrust into the limelight, the gun control lobby and their media shills focused attention onto the Confederate flag. 


The gun control industry is large, well funded (Bloomberg alone has donated almost a billion so far) and patient. They have been chipping away at American's Second Amendment rights for almost 50 years now and they aren't about to stop. 


However they do know when to pick their battles, and articles like this are the best they can hope for. Articles trying to play down the gun control industry's complicities in the deaths they report on. while still trying to advance their agenda.







Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@sp60 I'm not sure how you concluded from my piece that I'm a gun-control shill. My point was the opposite.

wigglwagon
wigglwagon

And, the politicians still won't admit we are in a religious war.

Mandingo
Mandingo

The debate about guns has pretty much become moot. They are here to stay in every caliber .  We are free to purchase as many as we care to or can afford to buy.  Our country has more than its share of murders due , IMO , to our moral decline as a nation. Combine low morals with a mis-guided value system and we constantly see the results in the 24/7 " entertainment news " media.  It is becoming  the norm to talk "at" people instead of "to" them in our society and I don't see that trend going away. If we want things to change we are going to have to look at and start with the man in mirror looking back at us. In the mean time the decline continues with our elected politicians leading the way.

ByteMe
ByteMe

Nice insight, Kyle.  Awareness is sometimes the first step to a solution.  I fear the step is too small, though, and that the waters of the pond will still and we'll be right back where we were ... until the next time.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" there is little question he suffered from some kind of mental illness — just like the killers at Sandy HookVirginia TechTucson and so many other places."


So, were they all on the same medication?  Some of those medications also have serious mental side affects. 


Could one of those now be "more likely to kill a bunch of people"? 

straker
straker

Down - "we enjoy many more freedoms than any other developed country"


More than Canada, England, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, France, or Germany?


Seriously doubt that.


Also, their gun murder rate is much lower than ours.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@straker

You shouldn't doubt it.  Unless they suddenly adopted something like Our Second Amendment.

sp60
sp60

@straker But the violent crime rate in the UK is almost 4 times higher than ours, and in Canada it's about twice ours. 


Saying things like 'gun murder' is simply showing your ignorance. Does it really matter to someone who is killed whether they were murdered with a knife, a gun or a baseball bat? 


As for 'freedom', we definitely have more rights than other first world countries, although we are neither exercising them or protecting them as much as we should. 




FIGMO2
FIGMO2

...caused barely a blip regarding gun control.

That's because an honest liberal (difficult to find these days) will tell you it's the people, not the guns that kill.

In their reluctance to make judgment calls against the perps, liberals will go after the target which they CAN control. Their preferred target is the gun. Theirs is an emotional argument, not a logical one. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@FIGMO2 People do kill


With guns. There is a reason why our gun violence is about 1000 times higher than other first world countries. 


Guns

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@HeadleyLamar

According to the FBI, there are some 33,000 violent street gangs here in the U.S with approximately 1.4 million members. They account for 48% of violent crimes committed, murder being among them.

I could put up some mugshots but then it would become too personal for you.

And make no mistake about it. They ARE NOT giving up their arsenals!  

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@HeadleyLamar @FIGMO2

If we wanted to be like every other weenie Eurotrash country, including slower growth rates, higher taxes, fewer freedoms, and inferior health care, we'd do everything like they do.

Delta being ready when you are I have no idea why you're still here suffering so.

sp60
sp60

@HeadleyLamar @FIGMO2 


But our 'Cricket Bat Violence' is the lowest in the world!


If you hear the word 'gun' used as a prefix on a 'fact'., you can be pretty sure you are being lied to. 


Another poster used the term 'gun murder', saying the US leads the world in it. But really, is you are murdered, do you really care what the weapon was? 


Of course not. The real fact is that you would prefer not to be murdered at all. 


What we should be looking at is the murder rate in the US, and if you compare that with other 1st world countries, we're pretty much in the middle of the pack.


The poster talks about 'gun violence', but the disarmed UK has a total violent crime rate almost 4 times higher than ours here in the US. 


These 'facts' are actually useless statistic, generated by the gun control lobby to promote their discredited agenda. 


Next time someone wants to talk to you about 'gun violence', just tell them that while we have more guns in the hands of more Americans than ever before, violent crime has dropped to levels not seen in 50 years. 


Ask them to explain that... I promise they won't say anything more to you. 


Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

@FIGMO2

People kill people with guns. Maybe if there were fewer guns there'd be fewer deaths?!?!?!?

But when your chief stock in trade is death and destruction, I can see how you'd want unfettered access to guns.

MHSmith
MHSmith

Another non-product blog. 

We shall keep our right to bear arms and do a better job of keeping those who should lose that right from ever possessing guns. Hopefully, we will do the right thing in giving the mentally ill the medical treatment they need rather than a jail cell that one day we will release them from worse off than before we incarcerated them.   

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@MHSmith


Hopefully, we will do the right thing in giving the mentally ill the medical treatment they need rather than a jail cell...

That's one you may wanna take up with the ACLU. The mentally ill have rights too.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@FIGMO2 @MHSmith 

That's one you may want to thank our governor for taking up.

His justice reforms are redirecting people to day reporting centers in the community with mental counselors treating them. In so doing for every mentally person who is not returned to jail at the cost of $50 a day we taxpayers only $14 a day to have them treated in the centers and back on the streets. 

As I said  "Hopefully", we will do the right thing in giving the mentally ill the medical treatment they need rather than a jail cell that one day we will release them from worse off than before we incarcerated them. 

Archive-Corrections Chief: Decriminalize mental illness

 http://www.namiga.org/index.php/new-this-week/203-corrections-chief-decriminalize-mental-illness

MHSmith
MHSmith

@LilBarryBailout @MHSmith 

Not by a long shot. For several blogs now I've seen nothing productive from them. 

The same old battle lines with the same old series of worthless empty ad hominem come backs. 

Maybe that is what you call productive? 

I don't.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Instead of restricting guns we should restrict the urge to post "Gun Free Zone" signs. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister We have one on our business


Most around here do. Frankly we don't want drunk vigilantes shooting somebody. 



sp60
sp60

@MarkVV @RafeHollister


Blather? 


Do you think that the fact that over 90% of these mass attacks take place in gun free zones is a coincidence? 


If you do, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in...


sp60
sp60

@HeadleyLamar @RafeHollister


Yeah... so when is the last time that happened??? 


Let me save you the trouble. 


Never. 


Several studies, including one by the US Dept. of Justice have shown that carry permit holders are the least likely group they studied to commit a violent felony. And that includes police and military. 


Since last year it has been legal to bring legal firearms into bars here in GA. 


The gun control lobby warned of 'blood in the streets' and Old West-style  Saloon shootouts. 


Guess what. Never happened. 


Every state in the Union has concealed carry permits available (and most allow bar carry), and in every case the gun control nuts predicted death and destruction. 


Instead what we got was a 30-50 low in the violent crime and murder rates in the US. 





MarkVV
MarkVV

The first dividing line should be whether any shooting was a part of a planned action, or if the use of guns was more or less incidental. If someone plans a violence, whether it is an Islamic-related act of terrorism, a racially-motivated mass shooting, or even a well-planed crime involving armed criminals, it makes no sense to blame the easy access to guns – in such cases the perpetrators will always be able to get the guns, unless we institute a completely unrealistic ban on weapons. On the other hand, a more effective gun control would prevent many other every-day cases, and that also includes preventing mentally ill people to obtain guns.

There is, perhaps, one exception to the above – the access to military-style rifles, which should be an issue in any case involving them

straker
straker

Barry - "do you just imagine the history you would prefer"


The US has far more gun related killings than any other developed country.


Imagine that!!

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@straker We enjoy many more freedoms than any other developed country.  It is an inherent danger of living in a free society.  No, I am NOT saying that we should do nothing to keep guns out the hands of the mentally ill and criminal elements.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

There are no answers in a free America to explain or stop insanity/hate/religious warfare.  I'd rather be a free American than live in a cage.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@Jefferson1776 While I agree with you, I think it's important to note there IS middle ground between those two.

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

Should this be investigated as a hate crime? Should Walmart and Amazon banned the symbols of his hatred?

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Moderate_line 

You'd have to ask the corporation you mention, which have the freedom to "ban" anything they want, don't you agree?

HDB0329
HDB0329

"Why we focus on racism and jihad more than guns in some shootings, but guns more than mental illness in others, is something of a mystery." No it isn't!! If the shooter is a person of color....the FIRST thing that comes out is either race or religion; that's just what the conservatives and the media want to bring out...to maintain the avenues of fear, racism, and religious animosity towards any religion that isn't considered Christian........but when a shooter is white, the first thing that comes out is a mental deficiency!!  What needs to be said is: Why are the right wing nut jobs more pervasive in performing the atrocities!! Once THAT aspect is fully explored, we'd get some answers........

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HDB0329 The point was the way we talk about guns in some cases but not others.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Kyle_Wingfield @HDB0329 ....we ALWAYS talk about guns..either how we need to restrict them...or just have guns for everybody like the Wild West.......but we don't always talk about the PEOPLE behind the guns in the same way!! The first thing we have to do  is to put these people on the same footing!! If we would be HONEST in our assessment of must gun tragedies, we'd discover that those who committed the atrocities were versed in a fundamentalist/conservative/radical belief system that tends to create these nuts......When we can discern how these nuts are created....then we can attack the foundation and slowly eliminate these nuts from the forest!!

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Kyle_Wingfield ....James Holmes....grew up conservative in Aurora as a  Lutheran.....then went nuts.....

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Kyle_Wingfield @Nick_Danger ^^^ not intended to be a factual statement; in fact, jihadists are very fundamentalist....which are the CONSERVATIVES of Islam.....they can be Sunni..or Shi'ia......

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HDB0329 Tennessee is a conservative state. Would you say the killer there yesterday is anything we would recognize as "conservative"?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar "Id say conservatives here and conservative muslims have much in common."

Of course you would say something like that. Even though -- or maybe because -- it isn't the least bit true.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar I'll give you a hint: Most people who commit these kinds of killings have beliefs, political and otherwise, that are incomprehensible to the vast majority of us. Usually a mix of paranoid rantings that range what we think of as the political spectrum, and can only be categorized as "crazy."

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HDB0329 I'd like to see you back up that claim that most gun tragedies are committed by people with conservative beliefs.