It’s hate that pulls the trigger: My answer to mass murders

It happened again. Another mass shooting.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know every single thing about government affairs when it comes to the gun control debate or that I know every single angle to every single devastating story. Because I don’t.

But I do know enough to know how society reacts each time something like this happens and the way in which society can often egg it on or create it.

Right after the news spread of the 13 people who died at the hands of a gunman at the Navy Shipyard shooting in Washington D.C, fingers began to point toward the gun he used, just like all the shootings that have come before. That horrible weapon that’s taken the lives of schoolchildren, military personnel, innocent couples walking down the street. It’s blamed for countless murders that aren’t even heard about in the news: Gang members killed in the street, teenagers taking their own lives with a pull of the trigger in a dark closet. And the more we hear about it, the more we tend to rise up with the government and cry out for gun control. We cry out for guns to be taken from the hands of those who might just crack with insanity. We cry out for guns to be taken from the locked drawers of parents. And we sometimes cry out for guns to be outlawed completely unless it’s to be owned by the military, hunters, or law enforcement.

But let’s think for a second. Let’s push aside the heated emotions of these horrible shootings and get to the heart of the problem. That’s what I’ve been trying to do while sifting through the heaps of information here at work, neck-deep in case after case of mass murders. Why are there so many shootings lately? Why do so many people have to take a bullet for simply showing up at school, attending a football game, watching a late-night movie, or going to work? The answer isn’t, “Because of a gun”.

No, the answer is simply, “Hate”.

Hate is what pulls the trigger.


Hate doesn’t come by nature–and in no way am I labeling someone by saying this, or excusing someone for horrible actions. It’s just an honest fact. Hate is a learned trait.

Hate is built when a teenager endures day after day of being shoved against metal lockers or being called fat or dumb on the school bus. Hate is built when video games flash simulated bullets and carjacked cars across our television screens, causing young brains to perceive it as a real event. Hate is built when songs with catchy beats indoctrinate hearts with lyrics about meaningless sex, drug deals, and “bloody murder” (A Kanye West song). Hate is built when movies filled with rape and villains that are made out to be unlikely under-dog heroes with blood-stained fists lose their shock factor and become a normal–and expected–part of the media, and then society. Hate is built by generations being quietly trained that the heroes in life are the ones who misuse women, intimidate the weak, destroy those who first hated and bullied them, and go out with a bang of vengeance–literally. Those are fake heroes. But the fake heroes quickly create the real villains.

Hate produces hate. It’s an endless cycle that won’t be stifled by a signed bill outlawing guns. And it won’t be stopped by news headlines flashing the perpetrators face on our televisions, striking fear in our hearts or anger. It won’t end by bulletproof walls or amped up security at airport checkpoints.

It can only be stopped if we decide it should stop right where it starts. Gun control, knife control, bomb control–you name it–it won’t completely solve the real problem. And I’ve felt this since the beginning.

Now, I’m not sitting here blaming anyone for the horrific mass murders that have taken place. It’s heartbreaking to me that these murders have even happened, and I pray for the victims every time a story like that pops up on my news feed. I can’t even imagine what the families of those victims must feel.

And I’m not discounting that there are precautions we need to take with gun control and safety measures. Sure there should be background checks before the purchase of a gun, and sure, we need to stay safe and make sure we’re protected during travel and in the places we send our kids. And also, I definitely know that there are times when many of these tragedies stem from suspects with mental illnesses or reckless behavior. Or maybe even accidents. I won’t discount that.

But let’s not forget the other circumstances. Circumstances that arose from someone who felt unheard. Unloved. Angry. Bullied. Vengeful. Suffering from past pain. Let’s not forget circumstances that arose from learned hate. Circumstances that could have been prevented if someone along the way had heard them, saw them, or helped them.

The same day that the 22 children and six staff members in Sandy Hook Elementary were killed last year, 22 children were also stabbed to death in China in their classroom. Two senseless, despicable crimes carried out with two very different weapons. But murder is murder. It’s not about a gun. Or a knife. Or a bomb in a building. It’s about the framework of hate that builds itself around hearts often bruised from the unkindness, abuse, racism, or neglect of another. It is formed from hearts hardened by a society that we build–sometimes unknowingly.

I write this because it hurts me. I write this because I’m mad. I’m angry that the increase in mass murders directly correlates with an increase in volume of the world’s powerful, haunting voice that chants to the rhythm of selfishness, greed, and unkindness. I write this because it’s time to fight hate with the only weapon that can destroy it. Love.

There are so many factors that go into what creates hate and what drives people to want to hurt others in mass sweeps, and ultimately hurt themselves. And I know that being kind and being attentive to those in need of our touch in their lives isn’t going to change the whole world overnight.

But it’s a pretty good place to start.

Because– who knows? What if something simple that you do alters someone’s life forever and prevents a horrific future

event–even indirectly?

What if your kindness–your love–somehow changes everything?

8 thoughts on “It’s hate that pulls the trigger: My answer to mass murders

  1. I discovered your blog last week and I’m thoroughly impressed with your logic, compassion, and gift of prose. This is a very insightful discussion of the real issue behind the problem with guns in America (and elsewhere for that matter). We can’t legislate our way out of these problems, no matter what politicians will say. It’s the hearts of the people that need to be changed. And that can only happen when we bring religion and morality back to the people.

  2. This guy’s post says a lot (quoting):

    Presenting Another Dozen Sacrificial Lambs to the Altar of Wishful Thinking

    Today, once again, yet another dozen people were unnecessarily and callously sacrificed upon the gun-control altar known as the “Gun-Free Zone.” This latest mass shooting was the second in four years at a military installation — this time the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard. The previous military mass shooting occurred at Fort Hood, Texas, just shy of four full years ago. The Fort Hood toll was thirteen dead, another thirty wounded; and it occurred, ironically enough, at an installation filled with people who were trained in small arms, yet were precluded by regulation from carrying them because they were in a “Gun-Free Zone” that wasn’t quite gun-free enough.

    Since 1950, every single mass shooting resulting in four or more deaths save just one example has occurred in a supposedly “Gun-Free Zone.” You would have to be an absolute loon to believe that correlation is mere happenstance.

    — end quote —

    “Gun Free Zones” is a large part of the insanity.


  3. Once again I’m so grateful to have found your blog! You write with such passion the truth about things as they ought to be. Thank you for taking the time to make a difference:)

  4. “. It’s about the framework of hate that builds itself around hearts often bruised from the unkindness, abuse, racism, or neglect of another. It is formed from hearts hardened by a society that we build–sometimes unknowingly.”

    It is also sometimes about mental illness. As it turns out the guy in the Washington Naval Shipyard the other day had numerous events and problems that should have had him flagged in the FBI NICS database and at least denied him the opportunity to buy a shotgun from a dealer.

    He had serious mental health issues. He had at least two known incidents of discharging a firearm carelessly, one where he shot up a neighbors car because he was angry with him. That alone should have gotten him a felony conviction and a listing in NICS.

    But society chose to ignore his violent symptoms and his mental illness. The fact is that most murderers are well known to police long before they finally kill someone. The failure here was a failure of society to deal with a person with obvious problems.

    Back in the 1950s guns were easy to get. I could buy a battle rifle picked up in Europe from beside the decaying body of a German soldier from WWII, and I could buy it by mail order from an ad in the back of a comic book. We had M1 carbines with high capacity magazines and M1 Garand rifles which are enormously more powerful than an AR-15 that apparently the killer in Washington took from a police officer he killed.

    But in the 1950s we put sick people in mental hospitals. That might have made a difference (and yes, I know there were abuses).


    1. Yes, I actually did mention mental illness in my blog as one of the reasons. And you are very right that police sometimes know long before. That’s what I was trying to get across–these people need to be recognized and helped before something like this happens. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  5. “I was trying to get across–these people need to be recognized and helped before something like this happens.”

    I agree. It seems from the information we have now that there was a lot known about this guy in Washington. He should have at that point had a felony record (for when he shot up his neighbor’s car) at the very minimum. A felony record would have gotten him denied by the NICS database when he bought the shotgun he apparently used.

    It also seems the Navy and VA knew about his mental problems and past history of violence. This is a textbook case of how the existing system failed. There were plenty of laws on the books to keep him from at least legally buying any gun, or even possessing one.

    But up until this he still had a Secret Clearance. How can that be?

    It seems like a lot of recent mass killers have had clear and obvious mental issues that should have been red flags. I understand that Adam Lanza’s mother was trying to get him committed and of course that is horrendously difficult today. The guy who shot Kathy Giffords was another one with clear cut mental issues.

    I don’t think that everyone who has mental illness is dangerous, but there are a few who are clearly so and society needs to take intervention sooner for those people.Of course I also oppose the concept of “gun free zones” (as the Washington Naval Shipyard, and Ft. Hood are largely except for a few police – thanks to Pres. Clinton). Gun free zones I think are nothing but “target rich environments” for these psychopaths.

    Wonder if you have also considered the possibility that modern psychoactive drugs often given to young boys and men might be a factor? I wrote a little on that a while back here:

    Guns And Drugs

    Sorry I glossed over your comments about mental illness earlier. I have no idea if we agree on some gun issues, but I don’t think we disagree on the idea of finding and stopping these people earlier.



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