"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Madness Has No Rights”: Will Americans Ever Be Ready To Challenge The Gun Cult?

Another week, another disturbed young man, another mass killing spree. It’s come to the point where episodes like Elliot Rodger’s murder of four men and two women near the Cal-Santa Barbara campus have become so frequent in America that the crime scene tapes have hardly been removed before people turn them into political symbols.

At which point any possibility of taking anything useful away from the tragedy ends. I certainly have no answer for the eloquent cry of Richard Martinez, whose 20 year-old son Christopher, a stranger to the killer, was shot dead in the street.

“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” he cried. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: not one more.”

Such is the downright Satanic power of the gun cult in this country, however, that Martinez may as well never have spoken. Every poll available shows that Democrats, Republicans and gun owners alike favor, at minimum, stronger background checks aimed at keeping semi-automatic killing machines away from disturbed individuals like Rodger.

Yet nothing happens, basically because Second Amendment cultists exercise a stranglehold on the political process. If the Newtown, CT massacre of elementary school children didn’t cause a rethink, no misogynist shooting down sorority girls is going to change a thing.

It’s really quite bizarre, but until some certifiably conservative politician takes on the NRA and wins, spree killings will remain a depressing feature of American life. We could make it much harder for deranged people to acquire arsenals without greatly inconveniencing legitimate gun owners, but we haven’t got the guts to give it a serious try.

Then there’s the customary inadequacy of our laws relating to involuntary commitment of persons deemed an active threat to themselves or others — very roughly the legal standard in most jurisdictions. I got into an online debate recently with Lindsay Beyerstein, a young journalist whose work I admire. She argued that Rodger should be classified as a “misogynist terrorist,” who targeted a sorority house as part of his “WAR ON WOMEN” (his words).

“Here’s why he did it,” Beyerstein wrote. “He was distraught because he had never had a girlfriend. He was enraged because he believed he was entitled to sex and adulation from women. He believed that women would never be attracted to him because women are sub-human animals who are instinctively attracted to ‘brutish,’ ‘stupid’ men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like himself. Women, in his view, should not be allowed to make their own decisions about whom to have sex with, because, as subhuman animals, they are incapable of choosing the good men.”

All true. However, I thought calling it terrorism was beside the point. The specific content of a psychotic person’s delusions has little reference to anything outside his own mind. It’s a funhouse mirror version of reality. I’m guessing Rodger was a big porn fan with no understanding of real women.

Beyerstein convinced me I’d spoken too loosely. Nothing released about Rodger so far shows clear evidence of mental illness — defined as a treatable brain disease like schizophrenia.

So we settled on a New Jerseyism: agreeing that Rodger was one sick pup. Not exactly how Tony Soprano would phrase it, but safe for newspapers. Sick enough that his own mother called police after seeing his bizarre YouTube videos ranting about wicked “blonde sluts” who ruined his life — pure paranoid ideation, in my view, but I am not a psychiatrist.

Where I live (Arkansas), the standard for involuntary committal to a lockdown mental health facility is basically the aforementioned “danger to oneself or others” — pretty much regardless of diagnosis, although psychiatric testimony helps. Alas most people don’t know how the system works. Petitioners have to be both sophisticated and determined to get anything done. Most families just hunker down and pray.

That tends to be true everywhere. In the case of Elliot Rodger, there should have been better two-way communication. California authorities say sheriff’s deputies who visited his apartment found a polite, shy kid who seemed no threat. (His posthumous manifesto expresses fear the cops would find his guns and mad videos.)

But shouldn’t there have been two-way communication? Maybe instead of just dispatching deputies, they should have talked with his mother first. Maybe she’s an alarmist; maybe not. I’m told some California jurisdictions do this as a matter of course.

Liberals and conservatives alike worry overmuch about the rights of mentally disturbed people. This isn’t the USSR. Nobody’s hospitalizing eccentrics or dissenters. Madness, however, has no rights. Acting otherwise is like letting children play in traffic. Alas, it appears Americans will face the problem soon after enacting sensible gun laws.

In short, probably never.


By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, May 28, 2014

May 31, 2014 - Posted by | Mass Shootings, National Rifle Association, Politics | , , , , , ,


  1. And there’s the response from Joe the Plumber–“Your dead kids don’t trump my rights.” Nope, I agree that Americans won’t stop worshipping the cult anytime soon, not just of guns, but also of their own selfishness.


    Comment by eurobrat | May 31, 2014 | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on GetRealWithDarylandDeVon@.Wordpress.Com.


    Comment by barack2012 | May 31, 2014 | Reply

  3. No big surprise here, no surprise that you would agree with the father of slain young man that it was the fault of the NRA. In your universe everything is the fault of the NRA.

    Fact is though the killer had been prescribed a drug for schizophrenia which he didn’t take. Apparently his medical practitioner didn’t follow up and test him to see he was taking the drug. It there was any real cause to this tragedy it was negligence of the medical profession.




    Comment by lwk2431 | May 31, 2014 | Reply

    • Now that’s a good one! It’s called deflection. Regards


      Comment by raemd95 | May 31, 2014 | Reply

  4. I have lived In Texas, Georgia and 15 other states. If you live up north in Michigan. Best have a gun to scare off the wild life. Guns don’t kill. People do. This kid in California had mental health problems. No-one noticed. Need to make the gun laws more strict. I have four guns. One gun given to my wife from a Soldier killed in Iraq. My father gave my wife a 22 pistol for protection. I don’t love guns. We need them to protect life. Freedom is still alive and well in the USA. Easy fix to this problem. Education and opportunity. Kids graduate college and have no jobs. It isn’t a joyful and fun world for our kids. All four of my kids 29 year old and down are living back home. No real jobs. People forget we had violence for along time. 10,000 plus years. I lived in Detroit.In 1970. A thousand kids were killed. The answer is simple. We need good gun laws and education/opportunity. You want danger. Any large city in the USA at 12 pm.


    Comment by johncoyote | May 31, 2014 | Reply

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