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Chicago Tribune Contact Reporter John Kass (courtesy

In an article entitled Shooting in Oregon another sign our culture is ill, Chicago Tribune contact reporter John Kass [above] refuses to blame spree killer Chris Mercer for his homicidal rage. This is as close as he gets: “Most news outlets focused on what has become depressingly familiar: the gunman, lonely, a nerd unable to adjust, narcissistic, nihilistic, seeking glory in innocent blood, perhaps a psychosis unknown as yet.” From there, Kass switches to Chicago’s “gun violence” problem, laying blame for that death toll on the Chicago machine . . .

What the president certainly understands, what politicians don’t tell the people, is that Chicago political corruption has a cost. And that leaves less money to pay for longer incarcerations for gun crimes, let alone any space to institutionalize the dangerously mentally ill.

Kass conveniently leaves out the fact that Chicago’s refusal to incarcerate violent criminals isn’t purely a government funding financial issue. The lack of appropriate law enforcement reflects the Machine’s desire to maintain the status quo. If Kass doesn’t see that the flow of drug money benefits – either directly or indirectly – Windy City’s politicians, he’s either ignorant or willfully ignorant.

Anyway, Mercer . . .

Right now I’m less interested in arguments about competing rights — the right to bear arms colliding with the supposed rights of psychotics to wander freely among us — than I am about the culture . . .

Our most popular sport, football, is about ritualized, gladiatorial violence. Our most popular movies are called “action movies,” but truly they should be called “kill movies” for all the corpses they produce, piles of them.

Our humor is rhetorically violent. Our popular music just as violent. We’re addicted to social media, where anonymity breeds a freedom to ridicule others, to peel their skin with venomous fingers from unknown keyboards. And we give our children phones at young ages so they may play, too.

Is there a cost to all of this? Sometimes a tragedy like what happened in Oregon makes denial all but impossible.

The Umpqua shooter was a homicidal satanist. The culture may have contributed to his evolution, but the key to Mercer’s killing spree was his personal psychology, not football, action movies, violent rhetoric, rap music or social media. The only thing Kass gets right: society failed to ID and isolate Mercer, despite the usual warning signs. To wit this (and other tell-tale signs of a disturbed mind) via PEOPLE:

[Classmate] Rivera says that Mercer liked to draw macabre scenes all over his notebooks. “He had this notebook with all these pictures of skulls that he had traced, and they had like fire in their eyes and looked really weird,” he says. “He would sit in class and just draw weird s— like bones or coffins instead of doing the work.”

Not everyone fascinated with the macabre is a spree killer. But it’s high time all of us intercede when we see something “off.” Other than that, what?

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  1. In all fairness, he’s come closer to the mark than a lot of chicago-based journalism that’s been reported on here.

    I wonder if he’s close to retirement, and starting to not care about career repercussions for faulty parroting.

    • As I understand, Kass has always been something of a true independent. And, since this is a gun blog, I will note that he referenced the “right to bear arms” with no qualifiers, even as he referenced the “supposed right” of the “mentally ill to wander freely among us”. And when he starts in against the “culture”, he at least references actual cultural type stuff, like movies and such, rather than, you know, gunz…

    • Agreed. I was ready to rip this guy a new one but he’s not got his head up his rear end as much as other Crook County writers. I don’t know how much we can blame mass shootings on what he has identified as allegedly being the cause but at least some of it is to blame. For example with video games I’ve seen people try and directly relate that to the real world, most kids grow out of it but a select few do not. Combine that with some satanic rage against a religious group and being a loser with no friends + mental illness and you’ve got a potential problem.

  2. Turn in anyone “obsessed” with skulls, coffins and the macabre? That would be every Iron Maiden fan and most bikers.

  3. Kass also writes for the Southtown Star(which I used to read).

    He almost “gets” it but his smug know-it-all sensibilities get in the way. All the laws anyone fighting crime are already there-just not enforced. Mandatory 10-20 years for trafficing. Same for any gun crime. Death penalty for murder.

    Minors shooting put in adult prisons(and mama held responsible too). No plea bargaining. CHAIN GANGS (that alone would stop most gun crime). No prison for minor drug offenses. No prison for white collar/non-violent. They get endless probation and huge fines/forfeiture.

    Sadly nothing will happen…Yeah Kass is far from the worst (although he whined about CCL).

    • Start with elimination of Gun Free Zones unless two cops at metal detectors at the only entry/exit door, like at our County Court House. Chris Mercer was one sick puppy, there is a degree of crazy that can’t be fixed. When seconds count, having armed citizens in that first classroom could have possibly made Umpqua Community College a near non-event.

      • Two cops manning the only entry/exit point means the shooter knows EXACTLY where the only guns are and that once he has neutralized them everybody behind that metal detector is fair game.

        Also seems a bit of a hazard in case of fire? Otherwise, ANY exit, even an emergency exit that only opens from the inside, can be breached. A confederate inside the room can grant entrance through an emergency door – it has happened before. Also, didn’t the shooter in Colorado exit the theater through an emergency door to retrieve his weapons?

  4. I knew of kids in High School that were attracted to drawing skulls, bones, etc. They’re moms and dads now. So what?

    The current NRA playbook and that of many fellow gun rights supporters seems to be to do a witchhunt for mentally ill people. I think it’s a terrible scapegoat tactic because any number of the signs that Mercer or other mass shooters exhibit are signs that millions of other people in a 330million person nation also exhibit. What are we gonna turn into a big brother nation where we seek out persecute 3 milllion people to possibly stop 1 person that might actually shoot some folks? It makes no sense. Especially since it doesnt matter if there were 1 of these shootings per week because that doesn’t negate my right to own a gun to defend myself against said crazy person. Trying to change policy to find these neede in a haystack nutters is worthless. Like Jeb Bush said, and he was correct, stuff happens.

    • The only viable solution to crazies such as this is to be willing and able to identify the dangerously mentally ill quickly and accurately and as early as possible, then in our sanity draw and fire accurately to stop the threat as soon as we are aware of it.

      No Department of Pre-Crime will ever solve the problem or serve the needs of a free society.

      The instant you agree that the government has the authority to establish who is and who is not sane enough to keep and bear arms you have repealed the “…shall not be infringed.” portion of the Second Amendment.

    • The NRA playbook? To blame mentally ill – 3 million people and treat them all as if they had committed a crime you say? I am sorry- what about the 30 million legal law abiding gun owners for every multi person homicide in the US that the right wants to take away their rights? All this sudden blow back about is unfair to look at a huge group of people (mentally ill) and place blame for what a very small minority does?? And yet so many that are saying that ignore the absolute fact that the number of people that own guns and never have had any issue with the law is in the factor of millions to one and even then the vast majority of shootings and spree shootings are done by people that have the guns illegally thus proving tight regulation and laws has no effect on those that intend to break the law anyway.

  5. The Chicago Tribune can lick the sweat off a dead man’s balls and make a story about it! What a horrible news paper I want even called in newspaper what a horrible rag Used best for starting fires Ball it up real tight tuck it up underneath the kindling And your main logs and light it off thats what its good for.

  6. It’s not a societal problem, it’s not a bone problem and it’s not a movie problem. We live in a culture that likes to take drugs and alcohol. The drugs of choice are illegal. Make them legal, control them as is alcohol and the violence related to gang distribution wars will stop.


    • The mafia didn’t go away when prohibition was repealed and neither will the gangs disappear if drugs are legalized. The prohibitions on alcohol and drugs created the mafia and the gangs, but once created these organizations take generations to fade away. There are plenty of other ways to make money short of working at McDonald’s.

      • Yeah, but most of the gangs are incredibly unorganized versus the mafia. You don’t see gangbangers wearing suits and throwing parties for high society and politicians. After prohibition, the gangs still had cigarrettes, gambling, etc to work with. Gambling is no longer an issue. Once Casinos were opened up to public funding via junk bonds in the 1980 and then IPOs, even the Mafia couldn’t compete with $800+million casinos and eventually dissapeared from Vegas. I’m sure there’s still illegal race bets and stuff going on. Whatever, I don’t think it would make a difference. Hookers, drugs, and extortion are the only things still driving profits for gangs and organized crime today… and we can get rid of two of those by simple policy changes.

        • In a perfect world there would be no such thing as consensual crime, but there will always be people who refuse to make an honest living and if there’s no consensual crime they’ll turn to non consensual crime like extortion, theft, robbery, burglary and confidence schemes. I’m not sure if banning consensual behavior encourages people to become law breakers or if it gives law breakers a less malicious behavior to engage in, though.

  7. Hmmm… No mention of how gun free zones corral defenseless victims together for psychos to inflict carnage on, free from the worry of armed civilians interrupting them.

  8. Chicago politicians have always pandered to their constituents with the most restrictive, yet ineffective gun control laws in the country. They want to show concern and want to look like they are doing something. When failure manifests itself, they blame everyone but themselves and their poorly thought out policies. Some solutions don’t require more public money. Get rid of gun free (aka free kill) zones. Allow people to defend themselves and present a deterrent.

  9. While it’s hard to identify any actual suggestions by this guy, I don’t disagree with much of what has been written in this article. I was expecting some kind of diatribe against guns or gun culture or religion or some other leftist cliche.

  10. Someone needs to ask these people why “gun crimes” and “gun violence” are worse than non-gun crimes. And when they squirm, trying to avoid answering the unanswerable question, press the question and keep pressing until we get them to admit they don’t know.

    • “Because………………………………………………………………..because…………………………………………………………………………………………BECAUSE GUNS!!!”

  11. The man has a point. He blames societal woes. He is right. We glamorize violence through video games and movies and TV. The Heroes and bad guys always solve their problems with guns. We murder millions of unborn babies. We lock up of nonviolent offenders while letting violent ones go. We have millions of illegal immigrants exploited for illegal cheap labor. We have a lawless rogue presidential administration and government offices at all levels most concerned with self preservation and expansion of budget and power. Minority gang banger teenagers slaughter each other by the thousands. We have millions using dangerous “legal” drugs through prescriptions, while big pharma lines their pockets with the obamacare machine to act as dealer and bill collector. This kid who sadly shot up Roseburg will pay when he meets his maker, and be held accountable for his actions.

    The second amendment along with the rest of the bill of rights assumed that they were being applied to a moral Christian type of society, and we are no longer that. Many Self titled “Christians” aren’t even that.

    People are too busy watching Kim kardashian, taking selfies, aborting their “accidents”, handing their kids over to government, jerking off to Internet porn, and generally being self absorbed, to take responsibility for their actions, let alone those of any children they may be raising. The collectivist government is all too happy to take personal responsibility off the hands of Americans, in exchange for loyalty, obedience, and tax dollars.

    We are reaping what we deserve as a society,

    • There is a reason dark ages happen. This type of behavior is the norm at the end of a civilization prior to their collapse.

      Civilization is not something that just “happens”. The traditional life style that built the culture; if you look at the beginning of most civilizations have some common elements. The focus on personal responsibility, a commitment to a higher power, a commitment to marriage with the purpose of raising mature and responsible children are all that is being attacked and dismantled by those so much more “sophisticated” than those focused on tradition.

      And so it goes. Never learning from history.

  12. “He would sit in class and just draw weird s— like bones or coffins instead of doing the work.”

    Yeah, I did that too. I also listened to metal music, played dungeon and dragons, and collected swords and skulls. I also came from a broken home, grew up poor, dropped out of college and had very few close friends. But guess what. I have a successful career as an artist, make good money, collect more guns now than swords, still have few close friends, think the Constitution is pinnacle of western enlightenment, and am an atheist. Some how I have managed not to go on any killing sprees. Wonders never cease, I guess.

    “Not everyone fascinated with the macabre is a spree killer. But it’s high time all of us intercede when we see something “off.” Other than that, what?”

    How about minding your own damn business, and dealing with the problems when and if they actually manifest. That’s the best any of us can ever hope for…its called life.

  13. “What the president certainly understands, what politicians don’t tell the people, is that Chicago political corruption has a cost.” Corrupt politicians in Washington DC NOOOO when did that happen??? How does drawing skulls mean anything? There are people called “Goth” that thrive on the dark side of life and I don’t see them on a killing spree.Former Water Walker have you seen the movie “The Dirty Dozen” Empty the super Max and all the other “tough” guys and spend them to Iran to fight the extremist there. Then we will see how tough they are then. Some of the disarmed people murdered by the governments of the world, Christians Rome, Jews Nazi Germany, Aztecs Spanish, Maori of NZ and Aboriginals Australia, Scottish William Wallace, the Irish, Welsh by English and the Native America by the US government. THIS is why we need guns to protect ourselves from those who would subject us to their whim and if this is not enough just google dictators.
    There are over 400 gun laws on the books and they have done nothing to stop the violence. Because of the winey few we are chastised for wanting to protect ourselves. We NEED guns to protect ourselves from criminals in and out of the government. I deserve the right to protect myself and if you don’t like it tough $hit.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. That is why it says “shall not infringe” so we can have what the government has to prevent a Holocaust. I believe the people should have what the government has including machine guns. The only gun control law there should be is that criminals can’t have any firearms. Thanks for your vote, pass the word.


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