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Young, White, Isolated, Entitled Gun Owner

This Memorial Weekend for me looks a bit different than years past. Gone are the days of Car Shows, Mule Days and the Narrows at Nac.  I’ve opted for a much quieter weekend taking care of animals for friends and celebrating birthdays close to home.  The quiet time has afforded me to monitor social media and local news outlets as more information surfaces about the tragedies in Isla Vista.  

I’ll begin my thoughts by saying my heart is broken for the families and individuals affected by this horrific crime.  There aren’t words I can say to comfort you or lessen the pain caused by these senseless acts.  Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.  

Today, more facts are out.  7 dead, 7 hospitalized.  The shooter seems to be an early 20‘s, UCSB student and the son of someone of Hollywood importance.  His statistics are irrelevant to me.  

We live in a world where information is passed faster than the speed of light. We can understand what is happening thousands of miles away in the matter of moments. A Tweet, a YouTube video, a status update can tell stories and bring us closer to events than generations past could even dream of being.  A social media acquaintance posted a video shortly after 9:30 last night stating that there was heavy activity and police presence outside her apartment.  I took a moment to watch and the dread set in. 

“Here we go again.” I thought.  Before the video was complete, I made an assumption that nearby gang violence spread into a known college party town but somewhere in my heart, I knew a young white man had taken, what he felt, was unjust matters into his own hands.  Now, victims lay dead and injured.  How could this happen?  The assumptions and finger pointing were immediate.  Americans are most comfortable when we can explain tragedies and cast blame.  

I guess I find comfort in understanding and assigning some blame as well.  As a responsible gun owner and someone who suffers from mental illness, I feel my perspective on this subject may be unique.  Over the last 15 years and probably long before that, I’ve been honest with those close to me about my battles with depression and anxiety – both are categorized as Mental Illness.  They are managed well now with nearly 5 years of counseling and medication.  It’s not my most favorite attribute, but one that’s with me every day and in some ways, defines me.  

I engaged in a few discussions on Facebook with folks who had posted the shooter’s video or shared their thoughts.  We all were horrified.  One post in particular with my like minded friend Katie, broached the subject of mental illness and that the shooter was probably sociopathic.  I agreed.  But if we label him Mentally Ill, and categorically claim that folks with mental illness shouldn’t have access to guns, does this include me?  Where do we draw the line? In all my years and through all my struggles with mental illness, never have I dreamed of turning to one of my guns as a solution.  My guns have never killed anyone.

Is this shooter’s mental illness a product of parenting?  Or modern society’s “everyone gets a trophy just for showing up” mentality?  In one of his YouTube videos, the shooter expresses his disappointment as he is still a virgin and that he’s never kissed a girl in his over two years at college.  Does showing up at college entitle you to sex?  Did the shooter realize in our parents’ and grandparents’ generation, sex didn’t come until marriage?  And in order to be married, you had to make effort to woo a woman. You had to be of decent character and be worthy of sharing a life with her.  If this shooter lived 50 years ago, what would his destiny have looked like? 

Then and now, love, affection and respect are earned, not demanded.

More details are surfacing as I type.  His parents had expressed concern to the authorities and the authorities paid him a visit.  He feared his plan was foiled.  Is this the point where legislation can intervene?  Can cries for help via social media coupled with family concern become just cause to intervene?  I have no answers, only questions.  

Our National Leadership needs to address 2nd Amendment rights with respect to mental illness.  I pray they take a close look at this disease and it’s patients who are managed and high functioning.  I hope that friends, family, law makers and law enforcers can take a more aggressive stance to stopping these tragedies.  We can all agree that something must be done.  We cannot afford to lose another life to mental illness.  

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7 thoughts on “Young, White, Isolated, Entitled Gun Owner

  1. “His statistics are irrelevant to me.”

    There are perhaps some things we would like to know about him. Was he on, or withdrawing from, legally prescribed psychoactive drugs prescribed for a number of conditions, for example, like ADHD. This is in reference to post I wrote a while back:

    Guns And Drugs
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/guns-and-drugs/

    There are legally prescribed drugs that appear to produce violent ideation leading to this sort of otherwise senseless incident.

    “if we label him Mentally Ill, and categorically claim that folks with mental illness shouldn’t have access to guns, does this include me?”

    My thought is no. The people we don’t want having guns are those who are likely to hurt others. As to suicide, I doubt keeping guns out of peoples hands makes little difference one way or the other. I say that having a close relative who committed suicide with a gun, and other family members who have suffered depression. In this world people who don’t _ever_ get a little depressed are probably on drugs or alcohol a lot. 🙂

    “Can cries for help via social media coupled with family concern become just cause to intervene?”

    In the distant past (where I come from) people who looked to be dangerous could be involuntarily committed to an institution for at least observation. Yes, there were abuses. But I have seen it happen and know that some people benefited (and didn’t end up killing people or themselves).

    “Our National Leadership needs to address 2nd Amendment rights with respect to mental illness.”

    Their natural knee jerk reaction will be to deny these rights to anyone they can. The current administration is currently doing this to many veterans who have ever sought counseling for depression or PTSD.

    Your situation is difficult. On the other hand you probably have some real appreciation of the difficulty of life. Sometimes it is a challenge that gives you a lot more depth than those who don’t bump up against the difficulties.

    It looks like you live in a rural area which sounds like heaven to me right now. There is always something to be thankful for.

    regards,

    lwk

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments and responses. I’ve had very successful treatment with Lexapro and plan to continue treatment.

      Part of my treatment and success is my family and friends. I mentioned my open and honest discussions with them about my mental health. They don’t always want to talk about it but they know when I’m not well – by observation and discussion.

      Although I’m curious about your point about medication, after watching the video and listening to excerpts of his manifesto, I’m more concerned about his lack of empathy, his sense of entitlement and his victim mentality. He wreaks of narcissism. Can these behaviors be brought on by psychotropic medications? Are narcissists born? Parented? Learned?? Your generation and generations prior may not have been medicated, this I understand and agree. But your generation was also disciplined!

      My fascination with mental health is admittedly brought on by my own conditions. My eyes have been opened to the diseases our friends and neighbors struggle with. Scary stuff!!

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  2. “They don’t always want to talk about it…”

    A very normal reaction. Been there, seen that, done that.

    “Although I’m curious about your point about medication…”

    My point there – if you read the post I mentioned – is that _some_ drugs with some young and vulnerable boys in particular can lead to violent ideation. May have something to do with mass shootings by younger white males in particular. Sorry, wasn’t clear, but doubt that has much to do with your situation. The pharmaceutical companies have 100x the profits of companies that sell guns and accessories to civilians so they are much more able to buy politicians than the NRA, for example.

    “I’m more concerned about his lack of empathy,…”

    With some individuals these drugs can increase that. In particular younger males. But you are right about that. If you read the book “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman he talks about those who can kill easily (fortunately not the majority of humanity). There are a number of sociopaths born who simply do not experience empathy.

    “Can these behaviors be brought on by psychotropic medications?”

    For some individuals I think that is possible. I certainly did not mean to imply that applied to you. Your writing says exactly the opposite. That kind of person could not have written what you wrote.

    “My fascination with mental health is admittedly brought on by my own conditions. My eyes have been opened to the diseases our friends and neighbors struggle with. Scary stuff!!”

    I have family members who have been involuntarily committed decades ago. I have very real experience with this. What used to be called manic depression appears to be genetically linked. It hits some and skips others – me it skipped, and a close relative it hit. My daughter is currently experiencing clinical depression so trust me when I say that I am sympathetic and not meaning to attack you in any way. I was impressed by your post and what you had to say. Thought it was intelligent and asking a question that was real, and relevant (not that you will get a kind or understanding answer from the gun-banning crowd – you won’t).

    As far as I can see drugs are a double edged sword. Sometimes they help, and sometimes in some individuals they don’t. I do suspect there is a lot of money behind hiding when they don’t. I wish you the best with your issues, and believe you and many others can overcome them. Life is most often not about having an easy time, but overcoming what you are given to overcome.

    regards,

    lwk

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    • Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.
      By curious, I meant that I’d like to further study the side effects of these drugs.
      In no way, do I take your comments as attacks. 🙂
      Really enjoyed your comments and our exchange. I’m so sorry to hear that mental illness has had such an impact on you and your family and I applaud you for your obviously educated viewpoint. With caring parents like you, your daughter will surely be successful in her treatment. This will continue to be a really difficult subject for folks to discuss.

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