On a diagnostic and statistical manual for gun owners and the perverse obsession with self glorification

We need a DSM for gun owners.   It is looking through the strange and often bizarre forms gun ownership takes in this country that the real clues to the tragedy in Oregon and other places can be found.

There are those, for example, who find in guns and what guns say about them and their place and role in life the source of a bizarre obsession with self glorification.

We are a culture obsessed with self glorification. It is hard not to listen to any public discourse of any kind, about any subject all the way from politics to sports to entertainment… to anything…. and not be impressed with how much of it is about, not just proclaiming your glory but flaunting it at the loudest possible volume to the most possible people.

Shooters are people possessed with the obsession to prove their glory. Most of the time they seem to be fans of other shooters and to be heavily emotionally invested in the narrative. Where most people see shame they see bravery and most of all a chance to have the impact they think they deserve. That impact, that legacy is so important, so compelling they are willing to die for it. Their crimes are not crimes of impulse but of planning and production. In a very real sense it is not just atrocity they seek but atrocity with maximum production values.

Mass shootings are crimes of identity. They are more about who the shooter is than the victim. They are crimes of destiny. They are crimes of mission.

They are crimes of people who see themselves as both victims of some sort of transgression and the messenger of redemption. The shooting is their way to matter. It is fame and importance. It is setting the world right and the assurance that people will finally know who they are.

We live in a gun crazed culture and for many people guns are more than guns. They are more than tools. They are a powerful sense of an identity that means they matter, have impact and can leave a legacy for others to try to match.

We don’t often realize the importance of identity. More behavior is an expression of identity than most other factors.

All of us want to find a narrative, a story that makes us matter. A narrative based on guns and shooting and killing is not an expression of anyone’s rights but a prescription for tragedies like Oregon that have become way too much everyday news.

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One thought on “On a diagnostic and statistical manual for gun owners and the perverse obsession with self glorification”

  1. There is a lot to this post- these shooters are mentally out of balance, and there are probably many different reasons that resonate with each individual sickness. We live in an unjust society that makes individuals go to these extreem measures. We not only need to make guns unavailable to the disturbed, but create a mental health system that will cover everyone in America and allow treatment of their illnesses.
    A. Sutherland, M.D., Memphis, TN

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