Considering that I've been one who has constantly pointed out to others that the 50s was in fact a time of significant cultural turmoil beneath its cheery whitebread facade, I'm not even close to idealizing the past, particularly considering how much of it also involved a history of relatives avoiding getting murdered.
So you know that America had it worst in the past yet you say american culture is getting worse in terms of harshness of attitudes?
Then why did you make that claim?
Nope. He's insane and/or has pathologically dysfunctional anger problems.
No sane person responds to such a slight infraction of not apologising for an accidental bump with murder.
That's hardly a fair assessment given that more than a few people have been declared mentally competent to stand trial; besides, your standards of sane are simply that, yours. I reserve judgment until a proper psychologist has had a chance to make an assessment, especially considering the existence of functional sociopathy.
Mentally competent to stand trial is a low bar to reach. Courts tend to not like people "getting away with murder", they set the definition very narrow usually just enough to prove guilt by the court's definition.
I know what is rational and what is not. I can tell, as well as you can, that these killers are using totally deranged logic, beyond any sort of reasoning or normal attitudes.
Consider gang culture, where rank and position are defended with violence on a regular level, and where the death of those who are seen to oppose you in even a token way is encouraged. This is why, for instance, people have been murdered for innocently wearing the wrong color shirt in the wrong part of town. These gang members -know- what they are doing by electing to pick up a gun and pull the trigger, or any other method of murder. I would dare say it is entirely self-serving because it serves their ego, especially given that capture, incarceration, or death is probably not a priority on their mind--another cultural concern I shamefully forgot to mention, the growing belief that consequences can be avoided.
(Relevant unresolved gang murder story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/06/extended-family-grapples-with-killing-of-1-year-old-boy-in-watts.html )
Quite a different circumstance as they are fighting what is close enough to a de-facto war, with factions and competing control of territory by violence and a strange kind of diplomacy.
Gangland murders are habitually covered up by complicity of witnesses in compliant areas combined with overstretched police resources. It's these casualties in what Nixon coined as a "War on Drugs" that make up the bulk of Homicide statistics in the United States. It's not exactly a war, but there are such divisions and the violence is so unlimited and within their groups sanctioned as "moral" that it fits many of the vital definitions of a war. Police may often make outreach attempts, but far too often in areas they are like an occupying army in a civil war.
They don't have any conventional political cause, unless you can call unrestricted and unregulated narcotics dealing a political cause.
I would hardly say that it's a constant state of derangement or lack of conscious control.
Irrelevant. It only matters their state of mind when they carried out the crime. Not how they were weeks or even years earlier or how they might have changed afterwards.
And realise the legal definition of insanity is very narrow and highly open to interpretation of a court generally against the defendant's favour of aquittal by diminished responsibility. And of course most spree killers kill themselves or are killed by first-responders so there is no trial or any detailed explanation of their actions.
I claimed that its violent nature encourages people to do this for a plethora of societal, psychological, and physical reasons. These spree kills, school shootings, and workplace rampages are notably not confined to any location the way Southern lynching was. I can name incidents from Ohio, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Alabama, Missouri, Iowa... this is clearly a national problem, and I maintain that as we have a problem given the upswing over time of violence, in accordance with cultural differences over the same period of time.
Which is exactly my point, they aren't confined to one area of one cultural attitude like racist lynchings in deep south 1910's. Their wide distribution suggests it's randomly appearing dysfunction in singular individuals. It's not a national problem, it's international, it doesn't suddenly stop at the border.
You know why there are so many shootings in "Gun Free Zones"? Same reason they don't happen at gun shows.
Gun owners know how this goes, they get disarmed and the psychos don't. The Columbine killers obtained their guns off the same black market that exist in almost every country for gangsters and criminals.
In the former case, disregard for the law and plentiful targets of high opportunity at low relative risk. In the latter case, because by definition most people, even criminals, are aware that armed individuals will be there, and the volume of traded fire is not likely to be in their favor. I don't disagree that criminals will find weapons in any form or fashion, but don't forget to consider that weapons thus used can also be stolen in spite of protective measures otherwise (approx 10%, small but not a trivial percentage). Straw purchases and corrupt commercial dealers still top that list. A fair volume of illegally sold weaponry comes from officially sanctioned sources.
You heard of operation Fast and Furious? Gun shops are usually pretty good at spotting shady customers and they have every incentive to comply as the chance of discovery is high and the penalty is HUGE. They lose all their property and spend decades in prison.
But the BATF had been actively ordering gunstore owners to make sales to KNOWN GUNRUNNERS. Without any sort of homing device or ballistic matching or sabotage. Their ridiculous plan was simply to wait for the guns to be used in crimes and not inform any other authorities of this, north or south of the border, and they simply hoped the gunfights would be so fierce that guns would be discarded and they'd trace them by serial numbers.
Part of BATF's defence was that this was a drop in the ocean compared to the massive number of weapons from com-bloc arsenals that arm gangs.
Ease of access is usually not a concern for a person who wants to access a firearm because they can do so through 'legal' dealers in some form of illegal fashion. There is quite the thriving black market all right, but quite a number of those with their hands in the market are federally licensed all the same.
It's still a black market.
For gang culture, they are already smuggling drugs by the metric ton, they are already smuggling machine guns which are not legally available for unrestricted resale. Gun bans do not disarm gangsters. It didn't work in Brazil nor so many other states. The only places where gun bans have been remotely successful was where there was low gun crime in the first place. It's like shutting the stable after the horse has bolted, if one gang has illegal guns the other side damn well well get them just as easily as they can get drugs and other illegal contraband.
Finally, I would agree with you that mental health issues must be addressed; people suffering from severe mental issues need treatment and help, and some guidance and limitations wouldn't be out of the question. I also wouldn't endorse ease of access for a self-harmer or a sociopath for a multitude of reasons.
Mental health is very much a concern, but far from the paramount or only one in this sad tale.
I know you didn't say this but bringing up general mental health problems along with spree killers creates a false equivalency in many minds. Most untreated mental health conditions have nothing to do with a propensity for murder.
I know Anders Breivik (or however you spell his name, he doesn't deserve it being looked up) was considered sane and fit to stand trial... that doesn't mean he isn't deranged. Outside the strict legal sanity definitions of "knowing right from wrong", he has utterly dysfunctional mental processes. I mean he thinks he - as a white Christian - murdering so many white Christians, will spur white Christians all over Europe to join him in recognising Arab Muslims as a threat. He was sane in that he knew what he was doing was "wrong" and still did it willingly, but deranged in how he possibly thought doing such a thing could get him what he wanted.
Trying to catch such deranged individuals is almost impossible, because they are sane enough to know their plans are wrong so hide them, yet not sane enough to know not to actually do them.
I agree with Barack Obama on what is the best way of dealing with such individuals, a strategy he has been using since he took office and by every President for decades: armed and active security.
I think the profile of spree murderers fits very much with the lone deranged assassin which have existed for a long time. If they have any political cause it's confused and contradictory and even then entirely personal, their reasoning for trying to kill the President is often the same that spree killers give. They wanted to destroy what people valued to get attention and recognition. The man who assassinated McKinley famously had little to say about why he did except regret he hadn't used a fancier looking gun, that he expected to be framed in a museum with his name. So many are clearly seeking infamy.
Presidents and other VIPs responded by having increased security, any attempt on their life is sure to result in failure and punishment in obscurity. The same infamy seeking mindset will move to equally or even higher valued individuals who are less protected.
I wonder why people are so accepting of Presidents and politicians having such armed security and limited access, but not for schools. My sister was dead set against the idea till I pointed out armed security doesn't create a threat... it simply acknowledges one we don't want to accept. People seem willing to accept political leaders and other famous people being targets of killers, rather than normal people and children... which is precisely why those seeking infamy will choose such targets.