What’s wrong with this picture?

Sandy Hook Memorial

Sandy Hook Memorial
Photo by Bbjeter, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

On the one hand:

  • Under our beautiful for spacious skies, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, on December 14, 2012—a horrifying number for one time and one place but apparently not horrifying enough.
  • Guns continue to be among the leading causes of death in the lives of American children and a large number of gun deaths go unreported.
  • From sea to shining sea, there were 23 more mass killings in the year after the massacre at Sandy Hook
  • In our land where purple mountains are majesties, daily and weekend reports of gun deaths of innocent people including children are available to all.  Read and weep.

On the other hand:

  • Although “America the Beautiful” urges Americans to “confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law!” liberty seems to have bamboozled law in Georgia’s new Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 (also known as the “guns everywhere bill”), which will come into effect on July 1, 2014.

This bill, cloaked in the euphemistic language of “defending ourselves,” allows citizens with concealed carry permits , even if they have committed previous gun crimes, to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings, and certain parts of airports. Will this make you feel more secure if you live in or travel to Georgia?

The NRA, thrilled with the law, will not be crowning our good with brotherhood; there’s too much innocent blood on their hands.

For further consideration:

Check out this horror story: Just one weekend’s worth of gun shootings.

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology

This entry was posted in Weaponry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s wrong with this picture?

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    I read the Weekend Gun Report with difficulty because both of my eyes were bugging out in horror over the ghastly number of shootings, most of them from legally owned firearms. How do you put this evil Genie back in its bottle? One way is the slow way: through voting for candidates who believe in gun control. I’m afraid there is no fast way, but I wish more people would speak out against the reckless promotion of gun availability. How can anyone believe that the best way to reduce gun deaths is to make more guns available???

  2. Barbara says:

    Add the hundreds of thousands of grieving family members, and the shooting death statistics become even more sickening.

  3. Erin says:

    The recent events involving the shooting in Isla Vista led me to return to this post. It has been over a year later and these tragic events are still continuing to happen far too often. Similarly to many tragic experiences, gun enthusiast and certain government officials claim that the problem lies in these individuals rather than the institutions that allow the power of guns to be abused. These excuses reminded me of the discussion presented in an article written by Soldz (2011), “Fighting torture and psychological complicity”. In this article Soldz comments on the tendency of the APA and other government institutions to blame the horrific events at Abu Ghraib on what they referred to as a “few bad apples” (p. 4). Today, institutions and organizations such as the NRA are using these same excuses to prevent change and simply blame individuals. Often times in these shootings, the first thing researched is whether or not the shooter was mentally unstable. Often times the media and gun enthusiasts are able to find some sort of mental instability that allows them to place the individual entirely at fault. However, the high consistency of these shootings are making this explanation less and less acceptable. The second thing investigators look for the most is what sort of justification the shooter may have had for committing the horrid crime. Even a year later, the motive and reasons behind the Sandy Hook shooting are still questioned and discussed. People have this incessant need to understand the justification behind every action even if there may not be one. In an article written by Trosky, Malley-Morrison, and Cantrell,(2013) the concept of justification is discussed as a method of not only helping others to understand motives but to help the individual themselves avoid internal conflict (p. 2). The recent shooting at UCSB is a prime example of justification as the shooter left a document and a video explaining the reasoning behind his actions. In his mind, he left this evidence in hopes of helping people to see that his actions may have been justified because of the treatment he received from girls. The shooter describes girls as horrible beings that have mistreated him his whole life by rejecting him and not having sex with him. Albert Bandura states that these mechanisms such as dehumanization and blaming the victim when combined with justification leads to harmful behavior (Trosky, Malley-Morrison, Cantrell, 2013, p. 2). It is not just a “few bad apples” that are capable of abusing power given to them through different institutions, but it is anyone capable of blaming a victim and justifying their horrific actions. Allowing more people to carry guns as a means of self-defense may only lead to more situations where people feel justified in hurting themselves or others.

    Soldz, S. (2011). Fighting torture and psychological complicity. Peace Review: A journal of Social Justice.

    Trosky, A., Malley-Morrison, K., & Cantrell, C. (2013). Justification. In (T. Teo, Ed.) Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology, SpringerReference.

  4. Sarah Noyes says:

    “A massacre is defined here, following the dictionary definition, as the indiscriminate, merciless killing of a number of human beings (Neufeldt & Guralnik, 1997).” This definition was quoted in Sternberg’s piece “A Duplex Theory of Hate: Development and Application to Terrorism, Massacres, and Genocide”. I thought about this blog post while reading the Sternberg article. It talks about motive and reason for doing evil and I thought about how people automatically assume a person who did evil had some type of mental disorder or something along those lines. I thought about this concerning the recent mass killings. “Her conclusion was that what was fright- ening about Eichmann was not how unusual or how monstrous he was, but rather how ordinary he was” quoted in the Sternberg article, Arendt said about Eichmann and his actions in World War II. Obviously actions taken in war and in random mass shootings are very different, but I think there is some room for comparison.
    There are so many things we blame for the reason these horrifying events such as mass killings keep happening and Sternberg explores some of these reasons. He went into great detail about the roles and theories of hate on Terrorism, Massacres, and Genocides. He also mentioned the role of the moral imperative and the role of evil. What I found interesting was when he spoke of the role of evil. He talked about the Milgram obedience experiments and how that may not be completely valid in situations like World War II. I got to thinking; can this experiment help explain events such as the Massacre at Sandy Hook? He mentions Staub and Baumeister and their work, I think that some of what Staub has to say is relevant and important. Staub suggested that “-people are particularly susceptible to mass kill- ing when they experience difficult life condi- tions and when bystanders passively watch in the wings” and “-at the extreme, they may engage in a kind of ‘moral exclusion’.” The thought of “moral exclusion” seems to be extremely relevant in situations such as these.
    Sternberg also talked about all the different types of “storys”, and in the case of the Sandy Hook Massacre I think of the Thwarter-destroyer-of-destiny story; “a group may be massacred because they are blocking a goal of an individual or group.” I do not think we can say for certain what the goal Adam Lanza had that day, but I do believe he didn’t intend to kill specific children.
    The major question I have is why do these horrible events keep happening? Although this blog post mostly talks about gun violence and laws which are major contributors to my question, we have found that those are just some of the aspects. There are so many contributions and Sternberg does a great job exploring explanations in a more psychological way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>