One of the benefits of age is the capacity to contrast cultural differentials from long ago and now. I'm thinking of the early 1960s. Growing up in a very small town in North Dakota. There were some things that were different then from now. They may represent what has changed culturally and why mass shootings take place, here's the essence. Mass shootings take place because we let them and we create an atmosphere that invites them. WE are the guilty ones.
In 1960s North Dakota guns were everywhere. It was normal to have a gun rack in the back of your pickup truck that was a place to keep guns but also a way to show them off.
It was normal to have a gun or two in your car so you could go hunting after school.
It was normal for a bunch of boys to go to the country to shoot targets and develop pride in marksmanship.
It was normal for a gun to be in the coat closet. Sometimes in Boy Scouts there was target practice.
Other tools of boyhood were common. Every boy carried a knife of some kind. Usually 4" or less. A few had a switchblade. It was a boy's envy to be able to throw his knife like Tonto did on the lone ranger. Nobody much killed anybody with that little knife, but it was a comfort to have it.
Boys in my school in those days were men in the making. We had heroes who had returned from Korea and World War II. During July 4 parades we saw them all trim in their uniforms marching. They were admirable men. We looked to them as father figures. Those who didn't serve were considered less somewhat. Not draft dodgers, but somewhat reduced. War was hell, but the world was a better place mostly because of the outcomes.
We had boys becoming men who were tough. I remember the Bell Boys. Big guys. Strong determined men. If such a shooter would have shown, they were the kind of guys who would say "Let's Roll" or at least how we said it then. There was Jim Clark. Even guys my age, Jim Kullnat and Chuck Comstock, football heroes would have been ready to defend the girls who were threatened by any insanity with a gun. There Were many, older classmen that would have attacked an armed intruder, not complied, particularity after the first shot was fired.
I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be strong bold and able. Tough guys who drove the hot cars and knew how to fight were good to have around. The Rodlund boys were those.
Women and Girls knew this testosterone flowed freely and that was a comfort. Even if Miss Onsrud were in charge she would have confronted this shooter with strong words knowing there were men still disguised as boys present and ready to act on her command.
There was not the cultural agnosticism that we see today. Even if in your heart you didn't actually believe the Ten Commandments posted on the wall.. MAYBE they were true. Maybe if you killed someone you went to hell. Hell might actually exist. That doubt was a restraining power. Then there was that prayer at the beginning of the day. Uncomfortable to the teachers as I recall, but still done because it was. There was no foolishness regarding church and state. It was understood by the culture that this was a nation that at it's roots had Biblical Basis.
Men were men, and wanted to be. Boys wanted to become men. The local beer joint was a place men gathered for a quick one before going home and a place where they connected with other men.
Beer was a dime then. So it didn't cost much for a couple.
News was filtered thru the print on a paper. Sure there was TV and Radio but mostly the newspaper was the source of news. If a tragic action by an insane killer took place, and a few did, they weren't celebrated with pictures of the killers and interviews with everyone who knew them in an intense 24 hour news cycle. By the time you heard about it the blood was already being cleaned up.
Sure there were mass killings but mostly men who killed families they could no longer take care of. It happened in Dickey County even. Mass killings accelerated after the mid 1960s. So did the murder rate. Some of that was demographic. As the baby boomers came of age, there were more potential murderers.
There was a sense of community common sense. We lived close to one another. We knew who each other were. It was not uncommon for an adult down the street to get after another parent's misbehaving child. The village did raise the child and they did so without a helicopter parent threatening to sue because their child was yelled at by Mrs Smith down the street. It also meant that you could as a child believe that you could knock on the door of any home and find shelter and refuge in an emergency. True or not, it was a comfort.
Even those without Fathers had men they could look to as role models. John Boeckleheide who was a scout leader made lasting impressions on the boys becoming men that he led.
When we contrast this to today's national culture it indicates how and why we went off the tracks.
Today a gun is a threat even if it's not. Even a kid pretending with a stick to shoot at others is kicked out or school.
Boy are encouraged to act like girls. Sit down, be quiet, don't fidget, don't talk and ADHD medicine administered to the ones who persisted. WE have now feminized boys who don't know how to become men.
Rites of passage, guns, knives, fight, toughness and yes even bullying are now considered outside the accepted. Some of the guys I mentioned could be bullies, but they also were restraint.
Soldiers returning from wars after Vietnam and even now are considered to be out of mainstream metro sexual maleness that is celebrated by this article in the NYT which is pretty funny. It would have been laughed out of 1960 EHS.
Girls and women didn't resent boys being boys. They certainly weren't trying to feminize them as happens today. They were different and that was as it should be. Most of them were pretty much ready to find one and settle down in early 20s. Today's culture gets married and begins household formation much much later. This contributes to unsettledness.
We don't have a significant religious underpinning. It is now considered by the ACLU and other forces for vanilla in the USA to rid our culture of any religious expression. Ten commandments off the public square, certainly not in our classrooms, No manger scenes in the park, prayer in public meetings are controversial, Chaplains in the military are restricted. In an effort to not offend we are encouraging cultural agnostic that removes the restraint that once existed. There must be a separate moral standard, one greater than yourself. Even if you don't believe, it exists.
Local beer joints are going away because of liquor license laws, if you want to gather with men for a quick one before going home it's five bucks for a glass of craft beer. That pub place still common in many countries where violence is less is lost to TGI Friday's.
Our litigious society has made being a parent harder. IF you were to apprehended a young misbehaver in the neighborhood, you might not be thanked by an overworked mother or father, you might be handed a subpoena for child abuse. Helicopter parents are hell on spinning wings.
Horror movies and crime dramas have created a fear of the other that makes trusting the neighbor who might be a serial rapist more difficult. It's not the norm, but the fear keeps kids out of parks unsupervised, off the streets and unable to develop life skills that would help. Social media doesn't help much.
Today's CNN and your local breaking news outlet has the name face of the famous killer splashed within minutes of his misdeed. It's notoriety, even if it's evil, that many people crave to death. I'm not much but if I kill several I will be. I'll be you know who Dylan Klebold was. That's a crime in itself. His name should not be on everyone's radar. These killers are famous for the wrong reasons. It self feeds.
So when you hear that GUNS are the problem, you don't understand that at it's core, culture is the problem. I have defined some of it above. You may be able to add to it. I offer up an early picture of a young John Wayne. This was the ideal.. knife and all.
How far we have fallen. This John Wayne would be arrested for just walking down the street with a knife today. We are suffering from the destruction of maleness and manhood that once was the center of our culture. The idea that boys are trained to obey and conform has created the capacity of a killer to order them to stand and be shot dead in order when in earlier days the killer would have been on the ground pounded to a pulp.
Can it be reversed? Yes, but much of the leadership particularly from progressives must be rejected as the cultural pollution it has become. I was Hubert Humphrey supporter. He would be appalled by today's aberration considered liberalism.