More Gun Deaths, More Of The Same Arugments

For the second time in just a few years, there’s been another mass shooting in my home state of Oregon. It’s tragic and sickening. As usual, both the left and the right immediately leaped to their microphones to shout and scream the same, tired, left and right arguments that have become so cliche that I don’t even need to repeat them here, since you already know them.


Right: You better not take mah gunz, gummint!!! JUST TRY IT! I’LL SHOOT YER ASS!!!

It gives me a headache almost as much as hearing about the actual shooting.

It’s fascinating to me that no one ever brings up one of the largest issues in this debate: that of cultural differences. Let’s do a fun thought experiment to illustrate.

Let’s say an insane billionaire purchased 10,000 AK-47 machine guns, loaded them all up on dump trucks, and dumped them all downtown in a major US city like New York or Chicago. Then he put up signs saying, “FREE LOADED MACHINE GUNS. TAKE ONE.”

What do you think would happen?

You and I both know what would happen. Some people would be scared, some people would just ignore it and walk on by, but a hell of a lot of people would grab for the guns with glee. Some people would start shooting each other. Some people would shoot back. People would die. It would be a bloody mess. I shudder to think what would happen.

Now here’s the question: What would happen if the exact same thing occurred in a large Japanese city, like Osaka?

If you’ve ever spent any time in Japan, you already know what would happen:


That’s right. Nothing. People would be very confused, and think, “I don’t want a gun. What a strange thing,” and just move on. They would patiently wait for the government to come in and confiscate the guns. When the government finally arrived, not one gun would be missing from the pile.

Yes, this is what would happen. If you’ve never visited Japan, realize that you can leave your wallet or purse in a public place for an hour, and no one will touch it. You can just go back and pick it up. That’s how nice, peaceful, collectivist, and honorable modern-day Japanese are.

Could you leave your wallet or purse around like that in a typical American city? Even a “nice” American city like San Francisco?

Nope. It would likely get stolen, or at least taken.

Cultural differences.

This is why if we gave out free guns to people in Philadelphia it would be a damn bloodbath, but if we did so in Tokyo, nothing would happen.


Because we Americans are violent assholes. Let’s be honest about it. We are. It’s our culture. We’re a violent people. Always have been, since the founding of our country. Probably always will be. The Japanese are polite. Australians are chill. Germans are productive. Italians are emotional. Americans are violent. It’s cultural. Yes, we Americans have a lot of amazingly positive qualities too, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t violent. We are.

Is it bad that we’re so violent? Well, yes. And no. Yes, because we kill a lot of people, and that’s terrible. I hate these mass shootings. No, because sometimes the world needs Americans to kill people, like in World Wars One and Two, where we Americans saved everyone’s asses. If Americans weren’t so good at killing, most of you reading these words would be looking out at a Nazi flag waving over your head. So it depends on your perspective.

Are all Americans violent? Of course not. I’m as American as they come (capitalist, individualistic, overweight, love pop culture, etc), and I’ve never committed violence against another human being in my entire life (karate practice doesn’t count!). I hope to never have to do so in the future. But I’m objective enough to admit that when you rank Americans up against other developed nations, we clearly, obviously, and demonstrably have more violent tendencies and desires than most of them. Just look at our history, our movies, our video games, our crime, and our constant wars. Say it’s good, or say it’s evil, it’s way we are.

That’s why we Americans have over 340 million guns in our country. Something like 42% of all the guns in the world are in the US. One in three of us own guns. Why? Because we’re a violent people.

This is also why you can pass all the gun laws you want, and psychos in America will keep right on going to schools and killing lots of people.

Bullshit!!! Gun laws work great in Japan! And England! And Australia! And…

Of course they do. Those are peaceful cultures compared to us. In 1996, the government of Australia told its people it was going to take all of their guns away (or most of them). You know what the Australians said? “Okay mate, here they are.” They just handed them over. If you’re an American, that probably sounds really funny. It certainly made me laugh the first time I read it. Because I’m from a violent culture that loves guns, which Australia is not.

What would happen if America’s government tried that here? You’d have a civil war. I’m serious. There would be blood in the streets, literally. Because Australians are chill dudes, and we Americans are a bunch of violent assholes.

This is why gun laws work in other cultures, but not ours. We’re way too violent a culture. Thus you can’t compare the success of gun laws in less violent, more passive, and more collectivist cultures to our more individualistic, hyper-violent culture.

If your argument is that we shouldn’t be as violent, then of course I agree with you, but that’s an entirely different conversation than guns or gun laws. Yes, Americans shouldn’t be violent, but they are. Yes, those angry, southern right-wingers freaking out about their guns is a little silly. But that’s the way they are. No law written by some desk-riding bureaucrat or congressman in distant Washington DC is going to change this.

Thus, the American government can pass all the gun laws they want, but it won’t even put a dent in the amount of regular mass shootings we have, especially considering that most of these shootings are committed by psychos who are already using guns that are already illegal or acquired illegally. Why? Because they’re Americans. We’re violent, unlike the Brits, Aussies, Japanese, etc.

Just watch. Obama and his buddies are eventually going to pass some gun laws, everyone will celebrate for a few minutes, and afterwards there will be no decline in the amount of regular public shootings. Just watch.

For some bizarre reason, this cultural aspect is never brought up by either side. Left-wingers just point at some peaceful, gun-hating culture like Sweden and say “See? Gun laws work there!!!” as if Sweden once had a violent culture full of wars, crime, and violent imagery, with a 100 million gun-loving right-wing conservatives ready to go to war against the government if they ever tried to heavily restrict guns. You’re not even comparing apples to oranges; you’re comparing apples to dump trucks. It’s a very stupid and naive argument, yet left-wingers humorously think this somehow proves their point.

On the other side, you have burning-mad conservatives screaming threats like Charlton Heston and his Cold Dead Hands, or Alex Jones about how 1776 Will Come Again, and other violent, threatening shit. Which proves my point. Gun laws are never going to work in a nation as violent, or as vast, or as containing as many angry, gun-toting right-wingers as the United States. (Unless you want to deport those 100 million right-wingers from the country, which is not going to happen, because, heh, we know all about how left-wingers feel about deporting people. Plus, conservatives are the ones with the guns!)

We Americans, unlike most other nations, are just going to have to put up with the fact that we’re a violent culture, have been for hundreds of years, and that isn’t changing as much as you or I may want it to. Passing more gun laws will give you some warm fuzzy feelings for a few months until the next school shooting, but it isn’t going to actually accomplish anything. Not here. Not in the USA.

Either accept it or move to another country.

(I’m choosing the second option.)

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  • gordon
    Posted at 05:10 am, 3rd October 2015

    True we are a violent culture, people are way more offended to see a boob on tv than 6 men shot in the head. My question is with all the attempts at the emasculation of boys why are we becoming MORE violent. When I was in high school we would have the occasional guy who brought a gun but it was usually just to show off not mow down the homeroom class. It seems to me we should be looking at the drugs we are pouring into our boys to keep them from being boys. Every time I see one of these shootings I just wait and see…yup on some kind of add or other drug. Why does no one talk about that…bad for business.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 11:34 am, 3rd October 2015

    When you force-repress emotions, you get explosions. Stands to reason.

    And yes, I didn’t mention that, but the second problem America has is that we have a huge percentage of our population on psychotropic prescription drugs. So violent culture + tons of anti-depressant drugs = lots of mass shootings.

    It’s tragic and horrible, but not surprising.

  • Guy
    Posted at 12:15 pm, 3rd October 2015

    I have to disagree with the premise of the post. Years ago I did a comparison of gun violence in different states based on different factors. Most of the gun violence in this country occurs in dense urban areas, and it originates from a specific population group. If you look at flyover states, they probably have some of the highest rates of gun ownership, yet they don’t suffer near the level of gun violence as other areas, even when adjusting for population density.

    These mass murderers very rarely fit the demographics of common criminals, and often have no other criminal records. Almost all of them are young men taking SSRIs. Sweden recently released a massive study regarding the effects of SSRIs on behavior in different age groups(1). Keep in mind this is Sweden, a country well known for being peaceful and egalitarian. The study suggested that SSRIs dramatically increase the likelihood of young men comitting violent crimes. While I’m sure exposure to a violent culture may play a role, SSRIs and young age appear to be the smoking gun here.


  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 12:22 pm, 3rd October 2015

    Yeah, agree completely. I said that in the comment right above yours.

    The next question would then be, do the countries I listed above as examples of “more peaceful” cultures have significantly less of their population on these kinds of drugs than the US does? I don’t know the answer to that.

    If yes, then we can certainly point to that as a cause.

    If no, then we’re back to the “we’re a more violent culture” thing.

    My guess is, once again, a combination of both factors.

  • Guy
    Posted at 12:32 pm, 3rd October 2015

    As for solutions, I would propose:
    – In the NICS background check people must pass before buying a gun, make treatment for SSRIs a disqualifying criteria.
    – Make it very difficult for doctors to prescribe SSRIs to males under 25 without extraordinary evidence of its necessity for the specific patient.
    – Make it illegal for people living with young males treated with SSRIs to own firearms, or require that they be locked in an approved safe at all times.
    – Hold doctors and family members who violate the above legally accountable for any ensuing violence if they fail to honor the above conditions.

    But being realistic, I doubt these policies would ever happen. Most politicians aren’t interested in solving the problem, but are happy to use situations like these to further an agenda of taking away people’s guns. Big pharma and psychotropic medicine are huge industries with large lobbying power, so the only argument that’s allowed to be discussed on TV will be gun control.

  • Tony
    Posted at 05:25 pm, 3rd October 2015

    Guns cause such a small percentage of deaths in the United States that it’s almost not even worth doing anything about. Excluding suicide, guns killed about 12,000 people in the US in 2013. That same year, diabetes alone killed over 75,000 people and heart disease over 600,000. 33,000 were killed in car accidents. We would be better off spending our energies fighting obesity and making driving safer rather than figuring out a way to reduce gun violence.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 05:38 pm, 3rd October 2015

    GREAT point. Spot-on.

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