We have a problem, America.
Our problem, I've come to realize, is not a gun problem. Yes, guns and their widespread availability are a contributing factor (although personally I believe that laws restricting certain types of firearms are less necessary than laws limiting things like magazine capacity; ask the Virginia Tech shooter, who killed more than 30 people using pea-shooter .22LR pistols with high capacity magazines). The real problem, as we see from the two most recent mass shooting sprees in the United States, is that an alarming number of our citizens are deranged. Not "mentally ill." That is just a pro-gun canard. I mean that despite being of sound mind they have belief systems, ideas, and attitudes that are twisted beyond repair. A lot of Americans have been off the rails for so long that their thought processes are now completely fact free, having self-selected an alternate universe of politics, history, religion, and news that tells them exactly what they want to hear to the exclusion of all else. An alarming number of our fellow Americans are, if you'll forgive me using the proper medical and legal terminology here, fucked up.
They got this way because we insist on our right to create our own reality, our own version of history, our own version of the world in which we live, and our own version of America and how its laws and institutions work. We have created a political, social, and media culture in which the message "What the hell is wrong with you?" is never uttered. No, we have to respect one another's beliefs. Respecting one another's beliefs is a wonderful thing when we apply the concept to the subjective – I respect your religion even though it isn't mine, your belief that humanity is fundamentally good even though I disagree, and so on. Respecting one another's beliefs is disastrous, however, when we apply the concept to facts. When we have political and religious leaders who say, "Hey, if you want to believe that Jade Helm is a conspiracy to take your guns and Syrian refugees are ISIS terrorists in disguise, that's your choice!" In fact, a lot of them encourage it for their own selfish purposes. If anyone tries to point out, "No, that is wrong," the chorus of contradictory and comforting voices is ear-splitting. Don't listen to that reality stuff. Come over here with your kindred spirits and we will believe it together. It will be true because we say it is.
When three men decide to go full Heat and shoot up a medical facility for developmentally disabled people, plan the act, and then actually go through with it, we have a problem. That problem is not "mental health" or the gay agenda or Hollywood or violent video games or liberal professors or any other red herring regularly introduced into these increasingly regular conversations. The problem is not a few bad apples or isolated instances of people lashing out. The problem is something we have all created and continue to fuel: a large population of murderously angry people with easy access to guns who believe in their own social superiority and have heads crammed to bursting with fears and conspiracies and beliefs that are woven entirely from gossamer threads of pure bullshit. This is going to keep happening, not only because we have too many guns but because we have too many people who have decided that they know who deserves to die in a mental, cultural, and intellectual bubble in which they will never be confronted with radical ideas like, "Hey, maybe you shouldn't do that."
In response, we have decided to maintain the status quo and to pretend that the problem doesn't exist. Nearly every day now we see evidence of how well that is working.