Sadly, no surprises: young, mentally ill man murders 6 and injures 14

The assassination attempt yesterday in Tucson of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the attendant massacre of 6 of her constituents and the injury of 13 others was apparently the work of an obviously mentally unstable young man.  Here’s a report from his community college instructor and a fellow student, in which they report that they were afraid he’d bring a gun to class.  (More details here in this earlier report.)  (H/t to this thread at TalkLeft.)

As I’ve written here before, on sadly too many occasions in the past three years, it’s clear that this massacre was the work of the same kind of person who always engages in spectacular incidents of gun violence.  It’s almost always a man, frequently a young man (under 25 or so), and it’s usually someone whose mental illness has been obvious to others for a long time.  How do these people get guns, and how would banning assault weapons not be a reasonable public health measure?  (And isn’t it sad in this country, where this scale of violence is commonplace, that we speak of mitigating the damage, rather than stopping it?  Isn’t it a shameful admission of defeat that we might see a massacre of “only” two or three people as something to celebrate?)

I’ve been working and playing hard offline this weekend.  I will return next week to post more on Tony Grafton’s call to arms, as promised.

58 thoughts on “Sadly, no surprises: young, mentally ill man murders 6 and injures 14

  1. I find the accusation that I “slander[ed] the innocent” insulting, especially when I was writing about someone apparently quite guilty of mass murder.

    This blog is not about the sensibilities of talking about mental illness and whether or not it’s polite to talk about the mental illness factor in mass murder. This is a feminist blog, and it’s my blog, so I can talk about what I want to talk about and ban whomever doesn’t stay on topic.

    This thread is YET AGAIN proof that gender is indeed the most obvious factor in mass incidents of gun violence. We want to talk about just about everything BUT the fact that it’s guys & guns that are the problem.

    Anyone who has a problem with this is free to take their business elsewhere!


  2. Okay, fair enough. I think you are correct in what you are saying about “guys & guns,” and I found Stephen’s first post in the thread overly accusatory. I just wasn’t sure if I had missed something.

    As I said above, I think white, male suburbia produces its fair share of Jared Lee Loughners, regardless of how we want to label their mental afflictions. I have nothing but sympathy for anyone struggling with mental illness. My problem with this incident is the easy availability of guns and the culture that encourages people to act out in violent ways.


  3. Pingback: Is “gringo” offensive? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  4. mandor: I read the evidence from the Times story last night, but didn’t have the heart to write about him again. This is why I think he has more in common with the other mass murderers we’ve heard from over the past few years: VTech, Northern Illinois, the guy who murdered women in his health club in Pittsburgh. Many, if not most of all of the murderers I’ve written about here over the past three years are or were sexist heterosexual men who have (duh!) dysfunctional relationships with women.

    Thanks for the link to Echnidne. It’s all so utterly predictable. (And here’s more for the folks who think that too few guns are the problem: two CA high school students accidentally gravely injured by a gun brought to school by a classmate.)


  5. Pingback: The gendered expressions of mental illness and violence : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  6. Pingback: Wrung out. | Historiann

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