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A plaque and flowers for victims of the January 8, 2011 Tucson shooting, are seen during a news conference in Tucson

Four years after Giffords shooting, a shocking lesson. That’s the headline above an editorial at Columnist EJ Montini’s not-so-shocking conclusion: we’re no longer shocked by mass shootings. The producers of this week’s PBS documentary on the NRA placed this same sentiment front and center, voiced by family members bereaved by mass shooters. The clear implication: anyone who isn’t shocked by mass shootings into enacting new gun control laws is a heartless bastard. The NRA’s leader is a heartless bastard. The politicians who do its bidding are heartless bastards. Society is a heartless bastard. Gun owners? Them too. Of course . . .

It’s a trap!

Whether it’s the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, the unfathomable horror of Sandy Hook, the nightmare of the Aurora cinema attack, or the bloodshed in Paris, the antis’ post-shooting playbook never varies. They link a direct appeal to raw emotion – look at this! this is shocking! – with an exhortation to act quickly – something must be done! Now!

From a strategic point-of-view, gun control advocates don’t abhor “gun violence.” They know full well that horrific firearms-related homicide is the key to their political power. As Mr. Montini’s essay affirms, they want people to suffer from shock. Or, as reminds us, “acute stress disorder.”

Common symptoms that sufferers of acute stress disorder experience are: numbing; detachment; muteness; derealization; depersonalization or dissociative amnesia; continued re-experiencing of the event by such ways as thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks; and avoidance of any stimulation that reminds them of the event. During this time, they must have symptoms of anxiety, and significant impairment in at least one essential area of functioning. Symptoms last for a minimum of 2 days, and a maximum of 4 weeks, and occur within 4 weeks of the event.

Shock prevents people from making cold calculations and rational decisions. This lack of logical thinking is exactly what gun control advocates need to succeed in the wake of a traumatic, firearms-related event. They need people to accept their civilian disarmament agenda – disguised “common sense gun safety”  – without question or consideration.

The post-Sandy Hook legislative rush to enact federal “universal background checks,” for example, was a shock-enabled move towards a law that would have done absolutely nothing to stop Adam Lanza from murdering 20 children and six adults. Or prevent future Sandy Hooks. It was an irrational response to the Newtown shooting spree; exploiting America’s collective shock and grief (a longer-lasting effect that also inhibits rational thought).

In contrast, Wayne LaPierre’s declaration that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” was an perfectly logical response to the shocking slaughter. The NRA’s proposals – put an armed guard in every school in America and implement anti-spree killer measures mooted by an expert task force – were entirely rational suggestions. Both were ignored as the battle over nonsensical background checks intensified.

Truth be told, shock wears off. Over time, an individual traumatic event loses emotional impact. The increased frequency of events lessens both the initial response and the recovery time. So it’s no wonder gun control advocates revile Americans’ increasing inability to be shocked by mass shootings. It makes their appeal to emotion less and less potent. Equally, the more mass shootings that occur, the more Americans realize that their government can’t protect them – an idea which completely undermines the antis’ civilian disarmament agenda.

Contrary to the antis’ “gun owners are inherently selfish” meme, the opposite of shock is not heartlessness. It’s clear-headed compassion. A combat medic is no less concerned for his patients when he or she remains lucid, calm and rational in the heat of battle. A gun rights advocate is not a monster for asserting that there’s no way to legislate away homicidal criminals and crazies, or admits that firearms freedom increases the possibility of negligent discharges.

Whether gun owner or not, the human ability to remain emotionally engaged without losing the ability to think rationally in the face of terrible reality is awesome. It should be celebrated, not reviled. It’s one of the key characteristics that allows men and women to triumph against adversity, to protect the freedoms they cherish against those who would destroy them, for whatever reason.

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  1. It seems that, usually, people screaming irrationally as this nut is have no actual proposal to present and defend, instead insisting loudly that we must obviously do “SOMETHING”! If they attempted to actually propose something which would have made any difference, they would discover the suggestion they came up with is already law, has been for a long time, and made no difference at all, just as the laws against murder did not. The point that we should consider common sense changes in gun control laws is extremely welcome. Let’s start by requiring teachers at all levels of public school to be armed every day. That is doing something! That is “common sense”!

    We might as well consider our working poor, too, perhaps we should consider distributing some free guns to people who live in dangerous neighborhoods.

    • I saw the video of the woman screaming to vote for Obama so she can get her “Obama-phone”… Somehow I doubt we will ever see people being so happy they got their free “Obama-gun”

    • Montini is an asshat. He has been the main progressive voice at The AZ Republic for as long as I can remember. He’s long on faux outrage & logical fallacies while being short on facts. Essentially he’s a model of everything the NY Times looks for in an editorial propagandist.

  2. So as a gun-owning, politically conservative, NRA member, I am now officially a “heartless bastard”? Gee. all these years I have tried to prevent people from being unarmed victims. I have worked to ensure that women, the disabled, the weak and the elderly could protect themselves from violent predators. And that makes me a heartless bastard?

    OK, then, the hell with the anti-gun twits. I hope they all encounter a vicious criminal and end up in the morgue. How’s that for heartless? If I’m going to have the name no matter what I do or say, I might as well enjoy it.

  3. The number of legal gun owners who commit crimes or misuse their guns is infinitesimally small. I’m so f’ing tired of being personally equated to a murderer just because I own firearms. Gun control nuts are bigots. The NPR crowd all look down their noses at what they perceive to be uneducated, old, fat white guys who are socially beneath them. They’re guilty of the worst sort of stereotyping and hate. Would they ever dare to say that if a black person kills or riots then all black people are potential murderers and rioters and must be penalized or controlled? Hell no.

    • And let’s not forget that “we cannot judge all Muslims from the actions of a “few” terrorist Muslims”. (OOPS, shouldn’t have used the words “terrorist” and “Muslims” in the same sentence! That’s stereotyping! Plus judgmental and mean-spirited!

    • The attitute that victimhood and helplessness is somehow more desireable, more noble, than fighting back against someone trying to kill you or deprive you of your property or freedoms, is not a new one. It always seems to rise to the top when a society gets fat, complacent and stupid, and it takes a real catastrophe to reset the clock.

    • Or just because you don’t spend three hours rocking in a corner crying every time something bad happens somewhere. The media has shot their wad with “shock and horror.” It doesn’t work anymore. I can’t even trust the mainstream media anymore because it’s impossible to tell what is an actual threat to me and what is them just trying to make everybody completely non-functional adults for ratings and manipulation.

  4. So I’m a heartless bastard… enjoy your right to complain about gun owners. who will use guns to protect your right, to shit on gun owners… makes perfect sense..

  5. We’re no longer shocked because the media bombards us with images of mass shootings, actually any disaster they can find, in a non stop quest to outdo each other for better ratings. Shocked? No. Numbed? Yes! And it’s the medias fault.

    • Upside: you’ve just been run through a terrorism simulator about 2,000 times. So should something actually go down near you, you might actually stand a shot of not being overly emotive long enough to save yourself. It’s one thing we can thank the media for. Numbing us all out might make it possible for more of us to survive because we won’t go into a hysterical meltdown over it.

  6. I’ve encountered this phenomena before in realms unrelated to firearms.
    There is a sizable segment of the population that believes you are either compassionate or not and the gauge to judge compassion is locked between uncontrollable whaling/sobbing for weeks on end and self immolation.

    Anything less is indicative of heartlessness.

  7. I’ve often argued that the victims of such trauma or the families of victims close to the catastrophe are the very people whose points of view and suggestions about policy concerning any reaction that, in reality, should be the least valid considering their position. That gets me some really dirty looks sometimes…but there is no argument but blind emotion that could possibly see any flaw in that stance. I don’t see how victims are allowed to be put forth as the ones to listen to…but I do see how it happens, sadly….we all do. It’s pretty heinous and irresponsible but it furthers the cause of the “people” who allow such to happen.

  8. A few quibbles with the plaque in the picture: One does not “honor” the victims of a tragedy. The term honor means the recipient did something to merit it. Heros are honored, victims are “remembered” or “memorialized.”

    I would also call the 2011 Tucson Shooting an atrocity rather than a tragedy.

    • Oh sweet lord, thank you. “Tragedy” is a failure preceding from one’s own hubris. I so despise the use of this word to describe heinous crimes. At least they didn’t use the word “travesty”.

      And also agree with your other quibble. Let’s remember you give flowers or buy bricks in honor of the living and in memory of the dead.

  9. “The NRA’s proposals – put an armed guard in every school in America and implement anti-spree killer measures mooted by an expert task force – were entirely rational suggestions. Both were ignored as the battle over nonsensical background checks intensified.”

    I find it amusing that our governments and anti gun lobby continue to circle this pivot point. Wayne’s simple statement and the rejection by our legislators exposes our governments’ cynical contempt for its citizens. WE ALL know what needs to be done. Either employ police full time at each school and/or arm teachers (force multiplier). Any other action or mental what if, is detrimental to the safety of our children and our citizens.

  10. Meanwhile, as the scripted hysterics continue, as a country we aren’t finding real solutions for street crime, porous borders or any of a myriad of problems.

  11. But they did DO something, they’re called Gun-Free School Zones and as long as they’re in place, the anti’s will have plenty of fodder for their political ambitions. FFS, why do we keep having to come up with ways to make murder MORE illegal?! Murder is illegal, period. Those that give a crap about the law, don’t kill. Those that don’t, won’t care about any supplemental laws you stack on.

  12. For the record, I am not a heartless bastard. I care about children as much as the leftists and wingnuts care about children. Make of that statement what you will.

  13. Then, there’s also the small matter that spree shootings aren’t increasing. The definition keeps getting expanded, so that more things can be incongruously lumped together, and media coverage of spree shootings has increased exponentially. To the extent that spree shootings happen, they are facilitated by the proliferation of “Gun Free Zones” where every single spree shooting has taken place.

  14. My take on the human races ability to evolve as a civilization is in the vein of Ron White’s joke about his right to remain silent.

    We as humans, have a unique capacity for emotional control and rational thinking, but many of our fellow human brings don’t have the ability.

    Decisions made solely on the basis of heightened emotions rarely work out. They usually make a situation worse. But when their all you got, you fall into the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The bullies in the anti gun movement only have demonization and vilification left, but still potentially potent weapons to an emotionally immature population that’s been groomex for years.

  15. “It’s for the children”.

    I always find this statement coming from Liberal/progressives to be incomprehensible.

    I find Progressives to be as a group some of the most hostile towards children. The biggest example is the support of abortion, the murder of unborn children.

    Gun Free Zones in schools which make children helpless victims of any mass murderer that targets them.

    The punishing of children for standing up to bullies in schools, which only encourages bullies to bully the children even more.

    The active hostility towards traditional marriage which is shown to provide the healthiest environment for the children with significant percentages of single parent families with a much higher percentage of children involved in drug use, criminal activity and teen pregnancy which means the young mother is more likely to live in poverty.

    I find Liberal/progressives are the least compassionate, most hateful and the most deadly to our children of any other group in our western society.

  16. I am a heartless bastard I guess.
    I don’t even bother to read about mass shooting as I know its usually in a “Gun Free” zone. Or country as in this weeks installment.
    As long as gun free zones exist. So will the killings. Unfortunately.

  17. I think this is a big part of why the gun control lobby gets less and less effective. They are one-trick ponies. Manipulate people’s emotions and make them feel shock, outrage, horror, and terror. Well, that crap all wears off. The more you’re exposed to something horrific in the world, the less power it has to continually knock you totally on your ass in emotions. They’re playing a game destined to lose because they are fighting against human psychology. Without being extremely devious (and of course they are), they can’t get gun control passed with honesty, even right after things like Sandy Hook because the hypnotizing effect on the public is shorter and shorter each time. Some aren’t fazed at all any more, and those who are tend to snap back more quickly each time.

    Also, there really is a level of empathy that is harmful to your own survival. I’ve watched on liberal sites when they report a tragedy on the other side of the world and commenters are talking about how they’ve been sobbing over it all day. I know people think that makes them a super great person, but it also means they’re highly unlikely to survive anything major because they are too constantly emotional to do anything that will actually increase their odds for survival. So great, you’re empathetic and super Buddha-level compassionate, but if you’re rocking and crying in a corner, you’re going to be the first person shot when the shit hits.

    I think things will get very bad before they get even a little bit better, so I’d rather train my mind to be LESS emotional and randomly empathetic.

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