A Layman’s Take on the Mass Shooting Crisis (Part Two)

In my last article, I revealed what I think is the single underlying reason why there are so many more mass shootings in America nowadays…

And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the availability of certain kinds of guns, which I’ll prove to you in the next and final installment of this series.

To recap: I maintain that there is roughly the same ratio of potentially murderous people in our country now as there were in previous generations…

And the big problems they face are pretty much the same as they’ve always been.

The difference, I believe, is that those who may be inclined toward extreme violence among today’s under-25 population have less control over their urge to carry it out than their ancestors did.

I say “under 25” for two reasons: One, because nearly 65% of the mass shootings in recent American history have been at the hands of teens or 20-somethings…

And more than 71% of those that have occurred so far this year were committed by shooters in this sub-25 demographic group, including the last three in a row.

The second reason is because 25 is the age at which the human brain is thought to reach full maturity — and full ability to restrain the killer urge.

That’s an important point in my thesis…

Because the three “root causes” I believe are driving this deadly loss of control in today’s teens and younger adults all play directly into a skewed sense of self — to which the immature mind is much more vulnerable.

The first of these causes, as I outlined in part one, is the influence of social media.

Now let’s explore what I think are two more root causes of today’s mass shootings.

Root Cause #2: The dark side of self-esteem

Take a look at this excerpt from a 2012 article in Psychology Today:

Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure… 

Empty praise causes children to feel entitled while lacking the true confidence necessary to feel good about themselves.

I couldn’t frame this point much better than that, folks.

The brutal truth is that over the last 30 years or so, the trend in American parenting has been to grant children ever more power, ever more indulgence, and ever more fawning adulation, even (especially) when it’s not deserved or earned.

And like social media, which can radically skew and inflate a young person’s sense of self — so can overindulgent, esteem-above-all parenting.

There’s plenty of research to bear this out. But anyone who’s looking can see it all around them, every day…

At the mall, the restaurant, the movies, the grocery store. Anywhere there are kids.

What I see far too often is parents seeking their children’s approval, instead of the other way around, like it’s supposed to be.

And I see kids that have no fear anymore — of discipline, of disappointing their parents, of the consequences of their actions…

Or even of failure, with all the praise, rewards, and 12th place trophies coming their way every minute — plus all the adult servants they have at home and in school, to save the day and protect their knees and egos from bruises.

But what happens when they get a little older and realize that everything their parents and teachers made them believe about themselves is a lie?

When they figure out they’re not perfect, or even very special, comparatively…

That they’ll have to do things themselves — and try really hard at them…

And that they won’t succeed at all those things, or even most of them.

Toss in a few quarts of hormones and the fact that their not-yet-mature minds have been poorly prepared to cope with the sudden deluge of frustration that is reality

And it’s little wonder some of the more iffy ones snap and come out shooting.

Root Cause #3: Everyone’s a victim — even the spoiled ones

“Victim mentality” is a real thing, with an actual definition. You can look it up.

What’s important to my argument is that it’s an acquired personality trait — not an innate one. In other words, it’s a complex that grows in people’s minds as a result of trauma in life, either real or perceived…

But I believe it’s also nurtured and aggravated by society and politics, and that it’s creating a climate of perpetual offense among young Americans today.

Take the suddenly omnipresent “microaggressions,” for example…

By and large, these are totally unintentional slights — usually nothing more than minor social or linguistic faux-pas, or contextual double-meanings — that lots of college-age people are nevertheless taking umbrage to these days.

Along these same lines, see also “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” and “cultural appropriation.” Along with “microaggressions,” they’re all modern terms describing either justifications for taking offense, or cushions against feeling it.

You can also see clear evidence of this victimhood culture in all the banned words (like “American”), banished ideas (like capitalism), and shunned symbols (like Old Glory) on some college campuses and among many college-age people nowadays…

They kick these kinds of things to the curb to protect their precious selves from all the pain and damage they’ll experience by hearing, seeing, or thinking about them.

But like I asked earlier, in my discussion of parenting: How does all this play out when these fragile, entitled little snowflakes are suddenly thrust into real life?

A fantastic article in The Atlantic called The Coddling of the American Mind asked this in a slightly different way:

What are we doing to our students if we encourage them to develop extra-thin skin just before they leave the cocoon of adult protection?

That’s another good way of framing this issue, and I could go on and on about it. But my point is, once again…

Like social media abuse and esteem-focused parenting, all of this “victim” stuff does nothing but inflate young people’s sense of self — and of their own importance.

It can encourage them to perceive life as being fundamentally unfair to them…

And to see themselves as being unjustly treated or intentionally antagonized.

No doubt, this feeling is compounded in them when they leave the nest (either home, school, or both) and start grappling with the challenges of real life.

Think that couldn’t spur acts of violent revenge or retribution among a certain marginal sliver of self-obsessed, mentally-immature young people?

I think the evidence shows that it can, and does.

Problem successfully identified — now let’s solve it

To come full circle, when you consider the cumulative effect of the three “root causes” I’ve outlined in this series…

All of which demonstrably contribute to hypersensitivity, mental fragility, and a skewed emphasis on the self…

You get a very plausible justification for my core assertion here — that today’s teens and younger adults who may be inclined toward violence are less able to keep that urge in check, compared to people of similar makeup in prior generations.

I truly believe that this shift is driving the alarming increase in mass shootings in recent years across the United States. More and more, these shootings are being perpetrated by people in their teens and twenties…

And my read on this crisis is that many of them feel entitled to commit these horrific acts by virtue of their circumstances, their pain, their greatness, their convictions, or some other distorted view of themselves.

Yes, this all undoubtedly falls under the heading of “mental illness” in one way or another. As I said in part one of this series, anyone who engages in mass killing outside the framework of sanctioned warfare is a sicko…

But to me, that’s neither here nor there.

Because the problem I’m here to try to help solve is the epidemic of mass shootings, not the larger, poorly defined epidemic of mental imbalance.

And now that I’ve fully fleshed out what I believe is the core reason why many of these shootings are occurring…

In the third and final installment of this series, I’m going to show you how I believe we can stop this crisis in its tracks.

And we can do it without completely sacrificing our constitutional right to guns.

So stay tuned, folks — because it’s about to get a whole lot hotter in here…


Jim Amrhein

Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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Jim Amrhein

Just like he was 15 years ago, when first he sullied the pages of the original Whiskey & Gunpowder e-Letter and various other forums, Jim is still ornery, opinionated, politically incorrect, and shamelessly patriotic. He’s also more convinced than ever before that government can’t do much of anything right — except expand in scope and...

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