Ball of Confusion
By Tony Candela
This Blog is in reaction to yet another mass shooting, this one at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, described as a small town where most people touch each other’s lives in one way or another. The other day, an obviously disturbed 18-year-old male used an automatic weapon loaded with expanding bullets to kill 16 children (average age = 10) and two adults. All too predictably, the factions immediately lined up on both sides of the gun-control argument and everyone from the President on down declared themselves “sick and tired” of these tragedies. Make no mistake about it. These are tragedies and there are a few things of which we can be certain.
There are more gun-related homicides and suicides in the U.S. than anywhere else in the developed world. There is also an expanding mental health problem in this country that, despite calls for more mental health care and ways of spotting potentially violent people, is relatively uncontrolled. Gun mavens will continue to resist any attempts to limit the number of guns in the hands of civilians. We’ll get to why in a minute. Once a disturbed male gets it into his head to start killing, it is near-impossible to stop him. Why is it almost always males that kill with guns? Why do we get riled up only when traumatized by killing sprees like the one in Buffalo and Uvalde, to mention the two most recent ones?
The most oft-cited reason for the plethora of guns in the U.S. is a combination of the legacy of a pioneering past and colonial conquest of American soil. This included mass killing of native Americans and usurpation of land by force starting on the Atlantic coast and not stopping until we hit the Pacific. A more piercing and surprising reason, especially to people who are not serious students of history is race relations. Once the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s kicked in, gun prevalence precipitously rose in this country. Ask yourself. From what are gun-owners seeking protection? Some say they wish to defend their homes from bad-guys, but the odds of home invasion are small and not thwarted by whether someone on the inside might have a gun. The bad-guys will also have guns if they are serious. Why do conservatives eschew gun-control while liberals espouse it? Are conservatives more fearful? Perhaps they are. For despite their bombast on almost any subject, they in my opinion always seem to run scared and also probably for the same reason, more racist (“Replacement Theory?”). Their invocation of the Second Amendment always ignores the context, even back then when modern conditions were most likely unimaginable, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is part of forming well-regulated militias. In short, even in the late 1700s, our founders foresaw how easy it is for things to run amuck. Liberals are no angels either. Their lack of understanding of the right perpetuates their staunch rigidity. The super-liberal left solidifies that rigidity even more.
As for the welfare of disturbed young males in this country, one piece of research points to lack of fatherly controls and guidance to prevent mental disruption and waywardness and once started, to mitigate it. Male aggressiveness (blame testosterone) is probably at the root of why far more males than females use guns to harm others and themselves. I was lucky to have a father who kept me in line, not that I was headed for too much trouble, but I must admit he was a bit over-zealous in his use of corporal punishment. Thus, I urge us not to rely on the mechanism of violence to prevent violence. Nonetheless, males need someone to play the role of strong father-figures. I hope the women of the world forgive this broad statement. It is not a slur on their childrearing abilities to say that certain things are better and more naturally managed by father-figures. These can include the village that it often takes to help raise our children, especially when so many fathers physically and emotionally disappear from their lives.
Many States have laws preventing purchase of automatic rifles until age 21, the notion, correct I think, that the teenage mind is too unpredictable. I experience this every time I pass a group of them hanging out on the sidewalk on my route to the subway. They get loud and boisterous, show off for each other, jump in all directions with no thought about the consequences, and are disturbingly imperceptive and unfeeling. Once in a while, one encounters the exception. If one can engage them in a kind and firm fashion, the rest calm down and become more “human”.
As for me, I think we need to get automatic rifles out of everyone’s hands except for the police and military. A seemingly innocuous scene comes to mind from a 1966 comedy film “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!”. A Soviet submarine accidentally beaches itself on a fictitious New England island. When the townspeople hear about it, dozens show up bearing all sorts of small arms. Only the Russians appear to have automatic weapons. The film ends with no one being shot and the submarine safely out to sea, but little attention was paid to how the impromptu militia was so well-armed. It has only gotten worse since then, especially the availability and use of automatic weapons.
Michael Moore’s admittedly left-leaning film “Bowling for Columbine” does a good job of outlining the history of gun violence in this country. Our neighbor to the north has the reverse ratio of guns to people and an even more disproportionately low murder rate. If we could achieve even a fraction of a hypothetical disarmament goal, we would be better off.
Finally, despite everyone’s promise to provide better mental health services, conservatives will resist the government spending that would be required. Villages just can’t handle the kind of surveillance and support required to bolster the citizenry and provide needed services. In fact, every time we turn around, conservative arguments work against such support. They would rather “harden” targets (all of them?) by arming, well, everyone who can be trained to use a gun. If you are not convinced of their social-welfare intransigency, look at the abortion argument. Issues of “fetal viability” aside because those arguments tend to be purposely arbitrary and the reasoning somewhat circular, who’s kidding whom when it comes to the levels of desperation created by unwanted pregnancy, economically shackled women, and most important for this essay, boys and girls growing up in difficult and often fatherless circumstances.
Get rid of the all-too-many automatic rifles in the U.S. and use some of the strategies other countries have found successful and we will have a good start in mitigating gun-violence. Support our citizenry the right way and we will get even further.
Anthony R. Candela, Author
Saying aloud what should not remain silent.
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy
A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports
Vision Dreams: A Parable
A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.
Christian Faith Publishing, 2019
Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar. Read more at