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How Many Massacres Will It Take for Politicians to Stand Up to Gun Nuts?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Here are basic facts about the massacre that took place in Aurora, Colorado, early yesterday morning. A 24-year-old man, James Holmes, opened fire in a movie theater with an AR-15 assault rifle and other weapons that he had purchased legally. He killed 12 people and wounded 58 before being captured by police.

The killing spree has triggered the usual polarized reactions. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, according to The New York Times, “Maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

And here, again according to The Times, is the familiar counter-reaction, from Luke O’Dell of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners: “Potentially, if there had been a law-abiding citizen who had been able to carry in the theater, it’s possible the death toll would have been less.”

Because I don’t know what else to do, I’m going to reprint an edited version of a piece I wrote in January, 2011, after Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, Arizona. But I don’t harbor any illusions that what I or anyone else says will make any difference:

Every time a deranged American male goes on a rampage, shooting down dozens of people, gun lovers trot out the familiar excuses: Guns don’t kill people, people do. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. If some of the victims had been packing heat, they could have shot the bad guy before he shot them.

Yes, that’s what we need, more guns.

I blame these massacres on not only despicable pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association—which feed off and fuel Americans’ childish obsession with firearms—but also on the cowardice of politicians. In 2008 the NRA warned that Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president ever.

Actually, Obama, although he supported gun controls when he was  an Illinois state senator, switched his stance during his presidential campaign. “I believe in the Second Amendment,” he said. “I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

He was true to his word: “Fears aside, gun rights thrive under Obama,” The Washington Independent reported in July, 2010. President Obama signed a law permitting people to carry guns into National Parks. He did not protest when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states and local governments could not overrule citizens’ federal right to bear arms or when legislators in Louisiana and Arizona passed laws allowing people to carry weapons into churches and bars, respectively. After a year in office, Obama received an “F” rating from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Here are some facts from the Brady Center: About 100,000 Americans are wounded or killed by firearms each year in the U.S.—which has the highest levels of gun ownership in the world—and more than a million Americans have been shot to death since 1968. Although gun supporters tout the benefits of self-defense, a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a suicide attempt; criminal assault or homicide; or unintentional shooting death or injury than for self-defense. Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicide, suicide and unintentional shootings.

The American fetish for guns hurts non-Americans, too. The U.S. is the world’s leading source for small arms—defined as weapons that can be carried and operated by a single person—as it is for larger, more expensive weapons, such as tanks and jet fighters. Small arms, which range from pistols and rifles to rocket-launched grenades and shoulder-fired missiles, are the biggest killers in wars around the world. The International Action Network on Small Arms estimates that more than 600 million are in circulation.

The Action Network lobbies for tighter national and international controls on the manufacture and trade of small arms; urges a system of marking all firearms (perhaps with embedded computer chips, to allow easy tracking by law-enforcement officials); and promotes programs for collecting and destroying small arms. But the NRA has successfully blocked international as well as domestic gun control.

(Fun facts: By far the most lethal small arm in history is the AK-47, according to the technology historian Edward Tenner. The “A” stands for automatic; the “K” for Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian Army soldier who invented the gun; the “47″ for 1947, the year of the gun’s invention. The firearm’s popularity stems from its lightness, reliability and the ease with which it can be repaired and manufactured. Lt. Gen. Kalashnikov, whose invention killed thousands of Americans in Vietnam and elsewhere, is a lifetime member of the NRA.)

Mexican drug thugs, who have killed more than 30,000 people in recent years, rely on guns from the U.S. “Drug cartels have aggressively turned to the U.S. because Mexico severely restricts gun ownership,” the Washington Post reported in December, 2010. U.S. attempts to crack down on American dealers of arms to Mexico, the Post noted, are thwarted by “laws backed by the gun lobby that make it difficult to prove cases.”

The gun lobby consists of people like Robby, whom I met in 2009 while flying to Salt Lake City to attend a conference (on the evolution of aggression, of all things). Robby (not his real name) was a chatty fellow with a bad-boy chuckle: Heh heh.

I asked him what he did for a living and he replied, with a sly grin, “Recreational equipment.” His wife insisted he give strangers this answer, because she worried that liberal pansies would get upset if Robby told them that he sold firearms. Heh heh. Robby had sold all sorts of guns to all sorts of people, including Italian and Russian mobsters. In fact, in a few days he was flying to Arizona to peddle his wares at a big gun show.

Robby had a conspiratorial view of illegal aliens. Young Latino men, he claimed, were joining the U.S. armed forces in huge numbers so they could get training for gang fights and possibly race wars. War was going to break out between Latinos and whites in the U.S. Southwest; it was only a matter of time. There has always been war, Robby chortled, and there always will be. And he will be there to supply the weapons! Heh heh.

Obama had been great for Robby’s business; as soon as it looked like Obama might become president, folks started stockpiling guns, because they figured Obama would favor stricter gun controls. When I said I believed in gun control, Robby replied that he did, too: Hold onto your gun with two hands; that’s gun control. Heh heh.

Shutting down gun dealers like Robby may not have prevented the massacres in Arizona and Colorado, but it would be a step toward a saner world.

Photo of gun show in Houston courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Addendum: In 2011, after I originally posted the above arguments for gun control, and got some heated blowback, I had second thoughts, and expressed them in a followup piece, “A modest proposal for curbing homicides: Socialism,”

Addendum 2: The writer Dan Baum defends gun rights in Harper’s online, I disagree with him–I mean, does he really think people should be able to buy assault rifles and 100-bullet cartridges, as the Colorado shooter did, and that banning these things won’t make us safer?–but his post is worth reading to get a sense of what a smart, reasonable gun-rights guy thinks.


John Horgan About the Author: Every week, hockey-playing science writer John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's, 2012). Follow on Twitter @Horganism.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Wiedzmin 10:54 am 07/21/2012

    Because we all know if you make something illegal noooo one ever, ever, EVAR will get their hands on it.

    Think I’ve never got ahold of moonshine? What about all those people who do drugs? What about pot smokers in non-legal states?

    Pirating is illegal but how many people do you personally know have downloaded music, or whated a TV show online not using Netflix? You really think that making guns illegal on a whim in the face of another shooting is gonna make a difference? No.

    The UK doesn’t allow for firearms outside of hunting. Did murder over there magically disappear? If there is a will there is a way. People will kill however they can. Outlawing guns just minimizes damage. Why not outloaw fertilizer ’cause you can make bombs with it. Or how about cough syrup because you can make meth?

    Gonna outlaw knives to avoid people stabbing eachother while we’re at it?

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  2. 2. erbarker 11:30 am 07/21/2012

    93 People are massacred on U.S. Highways everyday. On average 50 of those are children. How many massacres will it take before congress stands up to the car nuts and cracks down on the car manufactures.

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  3. 3. BartKing 12:26 pm 07/21/2012

    Opponents of gun control like to use the analogies of cars, knives, pirated software, and even drugs to show how it could never work.

    But guns are GUNS. They are quite unique.

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  4. 4. Melikhovo 1:51 pm 07/21/2012

    Do you really think that stereotyping gun owners as irrational nuts who laugh heh heh heh in their stupid villainy is a good way to convince people of you views? All this article demonstrates is that you’re ignorant of the complex dynamics that affect gun sales, ownership, and use in this country. If someone were to write about physicists in the way you write about gun dealers, you’d scream at the injustice.

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  5. 5. Retired Guy 7:20 pm 07/21/2012

    As a gun owner and supporter of our right to own and bear arms, I am offended by Mr Horgans name calling and his attack on the millions of people that own, use, and store weapons responsibly. I believe that he and our leaders would be better served questioning the types of weapons that are legally being sold. There is no convincing reason for civilians (non-military, non-law enforcement personnel) to own assault weapons. These weapons have shown several times that in the hands of of criminals or lunatics they can cause huge amounts of damage.
    My shotgun, hunting rifle, and pistol do not hold large amounts of ammunition, and are relatively slow to reload, not the weapons of choice for the lunatics who carried out the various recent (past 20 years) massacres around the country.
    I think our country needs to have a civil and thoughtful discussion on how to address what is becoming an all too common occurrence, shooting rampages. The NRA is correct, guns don’t kill, people do, but should we be limiting which weapons are available to the general population?

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  6. 6. JAC77 8:51 pm 07/21/2012

    First, what is this piece doing on Scientific American? This column is self-described as ‘Critical views of science in the news’. Mr. Horgan has abused his position by writing this piece.

    Second, this piece is an emotional response. Is the slaughter in Colorado important enough to depart from this column’s stated mission of science commentary? Millions die each year from any of a large menu of poorly-researched illnesses or man-made toxicities. How about focusing on those more science-related deaths in this column?

    Today, Mr. Horgan is little better than the Fox News/MSNBC talking heads he no doubt decries.

    As for gun control itself, the issue is not as clear cut as Mr. Horgan argues. Broad ownership of weapons is often a fundamental stabilizing aspect of a civil society. A well armed citizenry is a powerful deterrent and defense against a) domestic tyranny, and b) foreign invasion.

    I write that paragraph above not to argue the merits of gun control, but rather to illustrate that issue is not “sane” people on one side and “despicable” or “childish” ones on the other, to quote Mr. Horgan in this poor piece – there are legitimate arguments on both sides.

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  7. 7. JaceNicklien 11:16 pm 07/21/2012

    I agree with other posters, what the %@* is this, obviously bias, article doing in Scientific American? I am very disappointed in SA, I guess it’s turning into a bias political magazine instead of a Science magazine.

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  8. 8. Spartachirs 1:43 am 07/22/2012

    Heres a fact: A significant higher amount of kids die at houses that have pools compared to houses that have guns. You only hear about the deaths from guns because its just sooo horrible compared to someone drowning!!! The news profits on blood spatter, not on someone silently inhaling water and dying in agony. Its’ laughable how this author gives facts about irrelevant information like the history of the AK47 and some a-hole who makes a living off of war. Who gives a ****? Give a fact on a society that requires all citizens to have guns on them and the result of it. This article proves absolutely nothing and is more like a waste of words to satisfy a 500 word essay for college.

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  9. 9. Roscola 6:20 am 07/22/2012

    As an Australian I know most people in here will think mind your own business.But here goes anyway..our gun laws were reformed over here gradually over a couple of decades,starting with amnesties to trade in your weapons for cash,which a lot took advantage of.A few years later people that hadn’t chosen to do this were given another amnesty to hand in weapons without fear of conviction.Finally our primeminister of the time(John Howard)outlawed guns in common households.Unless you lived on the land and used weapons to control vermin or were a professional shooter(culling pest,vermin population)all guns were removed from households.Which is not to say you cannot own or register a gun for private use(sportshooting,pistol clubs etc)but the right involves a tight well controlled set of rules that makes it less desirable to even bother to own a gun.

    Which gets back to my point,after 10 odd years of not being able to carry guns,rifles etc under the seat of cars on our person or whatever the case,NO-ONE misses them and NO-ONE gets shot over some trivial incident(ie road rage)anymore.You people(U.S citizens)might be quite surprised just how much you do not miss owning a gun, just because you have the right to.And in the long run helps to stop these senseless tragedies that seem to happen on such a regular frequency.

    It seems to me unless you can bite the bullet(no pun intended)and make hard,tough,realistic reforms to your gun laws,this sort of thing(let alone isolated shootings)will never,ever stop recurring in the U.S.

    I really do think the American people are their own worst enemies.Which is sad because the U.S used to be at the top of the heap amongst most modern societies.

    Get rid of your guns ‘n’ go fly a kite or something,because until you lose this “right to bear arms” bullshit attitude.Innocent people and families will always the victims..sigh..and it’s always tragic to hear news of it over here(Australia)when it happens.(again)

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  10. 10. PLANETARY DEFENSE 3:38 pm 07/22/2012

    I would much rather stop a killer, save lives and have to explain to the police why I disobeyed the no gun policy in the theater by having my concealed carry gun in my holster, than to have to duck and run under a spray of bullets like the poor people in Colorado did.. and watch people die needlessly…

    I refuse to go inside a business where the business owner tells me I have to disarm and be killed !

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  11. 11. PLANETARY DEFENSE 3:40 pm 07/22/2012

    “After graduating from high school in Reno, Nev., victim Jonathan Blunk, 26, of Aurora, Colo., served in the Navy between 2004 and 2009 and most recently worked at a hardware store, according to close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo.

    Blunk had plans to re-enlist with a goal of becoming a Navy SEAL, said Gill, who lived with Blunk several years in the Navy and later in Aurora.

    Gill described his friend as an avid outdoorsman and gun rights advocate.

    “Pretty much every weapon the guy in the theater used he owned,” Gill said. “If you asked if he was still alive, he would have said his only regret is he didn’t have his sidearm with him and he couldn’t do anything to stop him.”"

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  12. 12. outsidethebox 4:21 pm 07/22/2012

    Today is the first anniversary of the massacre in Norway. Did their much,much tighter gun laws prevent six times as many from being killed? No. Neither did their “less violent” culture.

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  13. 13. Nanohistory 5:01 pm 07/22/2012

    Thank you for your article. After one of the previous massacres someone speculated on how many dead it would require for a majority to support gun control, the suggestion was hundreds or even more, a ghastly thought but not unreasonable for this insane world.

    When the Supreme Court was considering the challenge to the 2nd Amendment I spent some time reading the Constitution for the way the framers used syntax and punctuation. Following the way they had written about other issues, the way they often inferred rather than spelled out clearly, and the way they used commas, it seemed to me that the 2nd Amendment could only have been intended to give ‘well-regulated militias’ the right to bear arms, not individuals.

    I don’t know if anyone else takes the style of the writing of that time as a guide. I wonder if I’m just a crank when it comes to this. Though one thing that’s seems utterly absurd is that we have to comply with such a ‘right’ laid down in the 18th century in the first place.

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  14. 14. justyntoo 5:04 pm 07/22/2012

    i dont like co incidence , maybe , there is some type of conspiracy about gun ownership . as the aussie said , there is no real need for a in-your-face type of confrontation between gun owner and non gun owner . so maybe gun ownership is indeed the very stabilizing factor in this country based on personal freedom . if the citizenry has guns , then ( sorry , to slide politically but it is a part ) the peacetime martial law could more easilly turn into some sort of despot government with only the bad guys haveing guns – like communist china . so , altho i do not own one , i fully support the right to bear arms and participate in a state militia .

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  15. 15. justyntoo 5:19 pm 07/22/2012

    nano , i just saw your comm. and yes , i think there is validity in your argument but , we now see today such a convelugence of influences that the right to bear arms has taken on a personal right and dare say a societal parigiem . if all had had guns in that theater as -say , in the old west , then the coward would not have done his dirty deed . it was the very vulnerability that ( like child abuse ) which enboldend him . if i were one who wanted gun control and i happened upon a weak minded person then i could use them to -prove- my argument for the need for gun control .

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  16. 16. byronraum 6:14 pm 07/22/2012

    The 2nd Amendment is not a suicide pact.

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  17. 17. Polednice 7:30 pm 07/22/2012

    I live in the UK. I’m not a fan of guns. Given the choice, I would continue to live in a country that outlaws them, and I think the rationality of this is borne out by the U.S.’s disproportionately high level of violent crime. However, do I think that the U.S. ought to enact stricter gun laws? Not particularly, no. I think calls for gun restrictions are a major distraction, not to mention wholly impractical given just how many are in circulation now.

    Whether we prohibit gun ownership or ask people to carry one everywhere they go, we will only ever be treating the symptom of an underlying condition. We should be asking why this man with a gun wanted to kill in the first place – what could we have done to prevent it? In many cases of murder, you find that social inequities, childhood abuse and gang warfare are key drivers of future homicides. Address those and you’ll save far more people than you would by restricting guns, but then that’s the hard thing to do and people are lazy.

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  18. 18. notslic 8:14 pm 07/22/2012

    Every member of the malitia that fought in the revolutionary war brought his own gun to battle. That is why the Founders didn’t want the government to infringe on the right to own a gun, in case the malitia was needed again. The context of the times in which the Constitution was drafted is a very complex issue.

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  19. 19. julianpenrod 8:18 pm 07/22/2012

    It’s not necessarily very comforting to see an article in a supposed “science” venue start off with as imprecise if not misleading a terms as “nuts”. It suggests that they not only are willing to frame an argument in imprecise language, it means they are so dedicated to pushing a particular agenda that they will violate the ethics of “science” to do it. Sinmilarly, too, to the decision to describe the will to be permitted to possess arms as a “fetish”. Or the oh, so precious touch of describing General Mikhail Kalishnikov as “a lifetime member of the NRA”. All typical examples of resorting to visceral influences rather than facts to promote a case, a characteristic “scientifically” unethical act, as well as a New World Order machination. The topic, supposedly, deals with a dozen people slaughtered in cold blood, and James Horgan has the cravenly reptilian crust to talk about a “fun fact”! Is this the same “common sense” Horgan and his ilk use in denouncing the right to bear arms? So much like his decision, too, to voice as the only counter argument that, if a law abiding citizen had been allowed to carry a weapon, they could have gunned Holmes down before he killed too many people. That’s as questionable, if not nonsensical, as including a “fun fact” to push your agenda while talking about people butchered! In fact, the argument is that people should be of the moral and ethical type to be able to own weapons without there being such a threat. Carrying to meetings can be a different issue, but the right to own weapons can be used as a means of vouching the quality of the populace. And it should be mentuioned that ghun purchase and ownership laws were much, muich, much more lax a half century or so ago, and there were almost no mass murders!

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  20. 20. LarryW 12:29 am 07/23/2012

    I was going to say, they will get balls when one of their own is taken out, but that already happened. But she is a Democrat and liberal, so that didn’t count.

    If Cantor, Sara Palin, Grover Norquist Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh would be offed, they would probably react much differently.

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  21. 21. nonreturn 5:56 am 07/23/2012

    I read S.A. for the thought provoking matters of science by brilliant people who conduct research in a complex world I need help in understanding. This is not science…this is scuttlebutt. I can get this on the idiot box.

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  22. 22. plswinford 3:18 pm 07/23/2012

    The point of the Second Amendment was to allow someone to reach into a closet and pull out a military-capable rifle so he could assemble on the village green and stop the Red Coats. The Second Amendment is not about squirrel rifles. Yet I don’t think Second Amendment proponents really want people to have the means to stop the current British Army within their closets. So they have a logical problem.

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  23. 23. MutantBuzzard 3:23 pm 07/23/2012

    How many massacers wil it take beforthe politicians stand up to the schools? Seems to me that the real common thread in these crazys is the fact that they were “edcutated” by LIBERAL schools! If Guns where the cause of this kind of thing it should be happening way more offen.

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  24. 24. Bill_Crofut 3:44 pm 07/23/2012

    How many murders of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs will it take for politicians to stand up to (and overturn)Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton?

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  25. 25. Postman1 4:26 pm 07/23/2012

    The reasons behind the 2nd amendment, as explained by Jefferson, was so that the people would maintain the power to defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, including the federal government. So, yes, the people must retain access to modern weapons and stand ready to defend the constitution, even against the modern redcoats or their equivalent here at home. Eighty-five million gun owners is a very formidable force. Switzerland issues everyone a gun and has the lowest gun related crime rate among the modern nations.
    Norway has the most restrictive gun laws and the worst mass murder in recent history.
    Obviously the author is biased and wrong.

    Of course, as several others have stated, this isn’t even a ‘science’ article. It is just an opinion piece, by a lousy blog writer, trying to scrounge up a few comments to try and make himself seem relevant.

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  26. 26. tucanofulano 4:40 pm 07/23/2012

    While nutcases have always been among us (“Jack the Ripper”, et. al.) and there is no way to ensure the safety of the first victim, there certainly is a way to ensure there are no 2nd or subsequent victims. “Gun Control” ought require that every American citizen over age 17 pack a concealed weapon and know how and when to use it. Instead of 12 dead and near 60 injured by bullets there may well have been 1 wounded plus a dead nutcase displaying fatal wounds from some 30 to 50 return fire shots from as many citizens.

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  27. 27. MARCHER 5:20 pm 07/23/2012


    Great plan to reduce government size.

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  28. 28. joe poppa 6:19 pm 07/23/2012

    It’s the Domino Theory of Politics. Overturn the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, by an amendment stating only citizens can buy politicians, not corporations or other heretofore entities deemed by our Republican Supreme Court as personnel. That should squeeze a fair amount of the money out of politics, since most Americans are broke and can’t afford to buy politicians. Get the money out of politics and you get honest-to-God statesmen in politics, rather than the boot-licking b****** we got sitting in Congress, now. Notify Senator Bernie Sanders that you support his amendment in this regard, and you may just get something done about gun control.

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  29. 29. hb 4:20 pm 07/24/2012

    To foreigners like myself Americans’ obsession with gun ownership is simply incomprehensible. Americans watch meekly as their government strips away their civil rights, stand in line like sheep to be ogled and fondled at airports, and barely half of them can be bothered to get off their a***s to vote. Yet, they fantasize about protecting their liberty at gunpoint. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.

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  30. 30. CoreyA 4:33 pm 07/27/2012

    It seems rather strange to me that anyone could believe that we will somehow remove all guns from this country, let alone the world, just by making them illegal to own. This will never happen. So even if we outlaw guns, only those who have no regard for law in the first place, will have the guns. They will then continue to use them on victims they know to be completely defenseless. Because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away (at the very best, hours at worst). So, if I had found myself in that theater, the one thing I would have been wishing for other than that it wasn’t happening, or that I wasn’t there, is that I had a way to try to protect myself, my loved ones and those around me. I would not have been wishing guns were illegal to buy, because obviously he already had one. Because if one or two people in that theater had possessed a pistol, and had trained to use it effectively, there is a good chance this lunatic could have been stopped before so many were harmed or killed. You can really argue with that, because it’s true. It only upsets you because it is. Just because you feel you don’t need to defend yourself, doesn’t mean the rest of us feel the same way.

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  31. 31. Bill_Crofut 11:37 am 07/28/2012


    As the former owner of a 22-caliber rifle and a lever-action 10-gauge shotgun (a non-owner for nearly 50 years), but one who defends the right of any law abiding citizen to such ownership, BRAVO!

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  32. 32. MARCHER 12:48 pm 07/28/2012


    Gee, wouldn’t it have been fun to see what a movie theater full of well armed people could have done to each other in a wild melee of returning fire? I am so sure cooler heads would have prevailed that night.

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  33. 33. JohannPopper 3:55 pm 07/29/2012

    One of the most heavily armed countries in history for over two-hundred years, and only a relatively small number of homicidal maniacs, is a good record. The only people who try to make a sensation of a random event, usually by over-scientizing the self-evidently unquantifiable, are those who wish to use fear to gain political power. Hence, guys like John Horgan at “Scientific” American call for socialism (which is totalitarian dictatorship) as a response to a random tragedy. They do this by referring to “studies” and “statistics” about human behavior, when it is a self-evident fact that human behavior is not quantifiable, as it changes according to internal choice, and is therefore beyond the scope of science, which is nothing but the quantitative study of quantifiable things. The ugly truth at the basis of all of this, is that there are materialists with a wholly mechanistic view of human life that desire more than anything to combine political control with a pseudo-scientific totalitarian behaviorism, and that in itself is pretty funny because it indicates very deep mental disease on their part. Only the insane believe you can legislate or somehow scientifically engineer paradise into existence. These people and their supporters in the popular science media and university classrooms are dangerous, anti-democratic, and should be ignored. I’d rather be shot by a murderer who thinks I am a real living person, than enslaved by a clique of fake scientists who think I am nothing but an accidental machine with no natural rights. Everyday, these fools lie and teach that there are no natural rights, no real personhood, based on nothing but a materialist prejucide and a faulty philosophy of science they can not understand, never mind substantiate. I ask, how long are we going to tolerate these nihilistic ideas? For such dark ideas are undoubtedly the inspiration for many modern massacres. How many young university men are going to go on shooting rampages before we finally establish a causal link between the nihilism taught in our universities, and the increasing mental emptiness that leads to mass murder? Surely, anyone with a rational mind can see that Mr. Horgan uses the tired example of a steretypical “redneck” to further his claim that violence is a “conservative” problem, whereas the facts clearly show that in the case of Loughner and Holmes, both crimes were perpetrated by young university men, products of mental illness and university systems that failed to act as any normal institution would when confronted with mental illness. This is an upper-middle class university student problem. Neither fit the profile of “gun nut.” Moreover, in the case of Holmes, we have a neuroscience doctoral student, taught every day by the materialist establishment that life has no meaning, and the human mind and personal identity and nature is fully explainable purely in quantifiable terms, as if nature itself were fully explainable in such terms! No wonder these generally well-off students of self-proclaimed “enlightened” materialists fail to find any value in themselves or their fellow persons, both of which, they are taught, are accidental evolutionary illusions. They are taught that life itself has no meaning, simply because meaning isn’t scientifically discernable or describable or measurable. So, I ask again in response to John Horgan’s rhetorical titular question: How many massacres will it take for the intelligentsia to stand up to nihilists? Answer: no amount could convince them to seriously look in the mirror. They would need to stand up to themselves in order to fix the broken society they have created; an entire generation taught that there are no natural rights and life has no value and no meaning. And you are honestly surprised that a few lost people follow this line of garbage to its furthest logical conclusions? Scientific American… the reductionist rag… Obviously, no one with a brain is surprised to note that Horgan follows up this little piece with a proud endorsement of socialist governance as a cure for all of societies ills. Surely, none of our problems come from what people generally believe to be morally true about the universe!

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  34. 34. Quantumburrito 3:34 pm 08/17/2012

    I suggest that each one of us should be given a tactical nuke. Since I want to protect myself from the government I find it totally unfair that they have all the nukes and I don’t have a single one. After all there is a chance, however small, that they could blow up my whole town in a paroxysm of totalitarian glee.

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  35. 35. Roscola 12:24 am 08/22/2012

    Re:JohannPopper’s opening quote “One of the most heavily armed countries in history for over two-hundred years, and only a relatively small number of homicidal maniacs, is a good record”.
    Take a look at statistics for gun related murder and maiming in the U.S,forget about homicidal maniacs on a mission from god or whatever their cause.Just the mere fact of guns being in households only adds to domestic shootings statistics that may never have occurred in these sometimes spur of the moment occasions.

    Another quote same article Re:”Only the insane believe you can legislate or somehow scientifically engineer paradise into existence”.
    I really don’t think people are chasing a “paradise” (is there really any such thing?),most people I am sure just want to be safe to live and exist in a society where they can enjoy life itself.
    For all your psycho babble rambling Johann..and judging by most comments posted after my previous post(07/22/2012).The one fact still,in my eyes,remains the same “Americans are their own worst enemy”

    Link to this
  36. 36. upload70 4:30 am 10/10/2012

    reading this article made me very glad i live in the UK a country where there are very few guns held by private citizens legal or otherwise.

    Link to this
  37. 37. Roscola 1:46 am 01/6/2013

    So, twenty young lives taken before xmas,another three today in Colorado.Six days into the New Year,I wonder how many more gun related deaths before the next new year?

    Here’s a few facts n stats,maybe give it a look at while ya cleanin’ ya guns.

    You silly cunts will never learn.

    Oh n btw Happy New Year.

    Link to this

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