‘Official’ Paranoia a Driver of Mass Shootings


Terrified Man Paranoia Scared Frightened Fear iStock-176806804.jpg
‘Official’ Paranoia a Driver of Mass Shootings IMG iStock/chuntise

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Mass shootings are currently ensconced in the public mind as the definitive example of gun violence in America, having replaced the infamous drive-by that was the obsession of the 80s and early 90s when crack cocaine menaced the country.

And despite the reality that handguns remain by far the weapon used in such incidents, politicians such as Beto O’Rourke insist that the AR-15 and other semiautomatic rifles must be banned for sale and possibly confiscated to deal with the problem.

This particular focus of public attention is, in part the result of confusion over the definition of a mass shooting.

The Gun Violence Archive, a website used frequently by news media, considers the term to mean an incident in which four or more are shot, not including the terrorist, whereas federal law since 2013 has declared a mass shooting to be a case of “3 or more killings in a single incident,” again not including the murderer, modifying the definition from the previous four or more. This lack of commonality in language usage has created the impression that such attacks are happening much more often in recent years, and I suspect that this is the GVA’s intention, but even sticking with the federal definition, we have to acknowledge that there has been an increase in frequency and fatality of mass shootings.

The new attempts at an “assault weapons” ban are a tacit acknowledgment that the 1994 law did not work as advertised. The new approach, as I said above, is to toy with the idea not only of banning future sales, but also to remove legally owned examples of the firearms in question in the hopes that this time, a bad law will suddenly work. Mass shootings did happen during the ten years of the ban, and the acceleration of such events is a recent phenomenon. I have discussed solutions in the past.

Today, I wish to suggest one possible cause with some observations on an implied answer.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks eighteen years ago, we have been told to be afraid, either explicitly or through the implications of our policy choices. We have had to remove our shoes to board an airplane. We were instructed in the use of plastic bags in case of a chemical weapons attack. The phrase, “see something, say something,” was the watchword, though the government didn’t include the warning that no one can be vigilant at all times, as the Boston Marathon bombing illustrates. As a country, we have accepted the government peering over our shoulders and listening to our conversations, despite many of us speaking out against such intrusions. And through all of this, from the president down to the local store owner, the message has been to buy more, an addictive response to calm our anxieties.

In other words, we are in a state of official paranoia: The Other is coming, and we must fight back. Is it any wonder in this atmosphere that some unhinged persons decide to act, whether that action is taking a rifle to a pizza shop to gain access to the supposed sex-trafficking ring or is a mass shooting for the purpose of keeping a country white?

Our greatest leaders in their moments of greatness have called us to rise above our fears rather than to give in to them. We are a nation defined not by one cultural or ancestral heritage but by the motto “out of many, one.”

If we insist on ignoring or actively rejecting this, mass shootings will be an unsurprising consequence—as will calls to “do something” to make us feel safer. If, instead, we dial down the rhetorical attacks on minorities, if we stop trying to wall ourselves off, we have a stronger argument in favor of rights for all. Doing this would reduce the psychic stress on both gun control advocates and on the individually paranoid in our midst.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

History has shown that it’s always the aggressor who dominates the weak. We label these people deranged, mentally unstable or any number of definitions of your choosing. Bottom line, they’re still aggressors.  A gun in the right hands can prevent a massacre, a gun in the wrong  hands will cause one. Democrats would have  you believe that disarming the populace is the only reasonable solution to mass shootings. We need to call out this defective line of reasoning.  This is the 21st century, attacks still and will always continue to occur by killers empowered by guns, an armed response is… Read more »

a.x. perez

In September of last year (2018) a young man killed three people with a single blast from a shotgun. The victims were two brother and one of the brother’s girlfriend. The shooter and the two brothers were fighting over a drug deal gone bad, the brothers broke a knife in the shooters head. The brothers and girlfriend retreated from the scene while the original victim retreated into his house and got shotgun and fired on his assailants. Obviously patterned opened up enough to kill all three. Shooter was charged with murder. Not the kind of stuff considered worthy of national… Read more »


If you believe the buildings were coated in thermite, the Bush’s KNEW of the attack or helped plan it, you are not very smart.
FEAR makes people stupid.


EVERY DAY we hear; “Those NAZI Republicans…..”, “Those FASCIST Republicans….”, “The Republicans are KILLING us”., “Republicans deny Climate Change THAT IS KILLING US!!!!”. “Republicans MUST be removed from OUR country..”., “We only have 10 years TO LIVE!!!!”. There should be NO wonder that the fascist totalitarian democrats incite hysteria to create violence. All part of the Hegelian Dialectic the anti-American democrats have been plying for about 75 years. It is the same thing Lenin did with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1916, Mao did in the Chinese communist revolution in 1947, same thing Castro did in 1951, etc. Nothing new under… Read more »


Good article. I think the “They do it for notoriety.” thing is either not it or not all of it. They do it because causing fear makes them feel powerful. If we were plagued with scary images of school or concert bombings constantly I have no doubt that bombs would be the preferred tool of the mass murderer.

Dubi Loo

I suggest we examine the relationship between extreme violence and the rampant ingestion of psychotropic drugs over the last 3 decades. They all carry warnings about suicidal ideation and aggressive behavior.

Will Flatt

How about the fact that the vast majority of mass shooters and bombers were leftists, and/or gone off their psychoactive meds? The rhetoric of the Left has a lot more to do with this, imho, than ‘official paranoia’. Several of these terrorist incidents were perpetrated by radical muslim jihadists, yet guns are blamed rather than radical islamic terrorism. Nidal Hassan comes to mind as just one of many. But the Left encourages them to come into our midst, and defends them as if they’re the victim rather than the perp afterwards. Also, these mass shootings – particularly ones that are… Read more »


@WF – You touched upon what I’ve observed to be another driver of “mass shootings”. Several of the perpetrators have been radical anti-gun – such as Dayton shooter. He deliberately selected a less common AR variant (pistol), so that gun control crowd (and Pelosi) can grab onto that and push for the relatively limited ban of AR pistols. They do understand and subscribe to the “toe in the door” theory. Have been kind of surprised as (at congressional level) each successive AWB expands upon the last. I’d expect them to try implementing even more limited restrictions, so that they can… Read more »


Will Flatt mentioned that these shootings seem to occur when there is some antigun legislation stalled in committee. They also seem to happen whenever it looks like some progun legislation might be going to advance, such as Reciprocity or the Hearing Protection Act. Every.Single.Time. Coincidence?

Will Flatt

@USA, Should Pelosi be replaced by a radical mudslime, you’ll be right, things will kick into overdrive. Americans will not submit to dhimmi-tude the way Europe has, and there will be a lot of hot lead being tossed around as a result. Now is the time to stock up.


The federally legislated definition is of mass killings, not mass shootings. There is no federally legislated definition of mass shootings, but is generally considered to be four or more, whereas mass killings are three or more.