Tag: mass shootings

America Is Safer than It Has Been in Decades

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Nearly two weeks ago now, a gunman opened fire on innocent people at The Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, California. 12 people died in the attack. Not long before, another crazed individual slaughtered 11 and injured 7 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The year’s mass shooting count continues to rise. At the same time, so does the number of people crying for gun control. Quite possibly, the copycat effect is in play. Surely, there is a direct connection between these two figures, as many gun control advocates cite incidents such as these, as well as the Parkland school shooting, as evidence to support tighter gun regulations.

The Olden Days of Unlocked Doors

One particular argument, however, takes this sentiment in a quite irrational direction. Through the fear and mass hysteria come cries that we are not a safe country anymore; in the olden days, you could leave your doors unlocked, but now, kids can’t even go to school or a movie anymore without the fear of a shooting. I do not, in any way, seek to belittle the emotions of these children, who have every right to hold fear deeply. But, their fears often come from excessive media coverage, rather than an increased state of danger in America.

First, allow me to preface with the notion that one mass shooting is too many. Similarly, one shooting of any kind is too many; shootings at the hands of police, criminals, terrorists, and deranged school shooters alike are horrific and worth considerable attention. Likewise, so are deaths by the knife, or car, or sword, or bomb, or gas.

We do not, unfortunately, live in a society of daisies and rainbows, where suffering is little more than a myth. Death exists, and without a doubt, is a regrettable part of everyday life. Once again, this is in no way stating that we should show tolerance towards bringers of death: such a suggestion is intolerable. Nonetheless, we must take this into consideration when looking at the following statistics regarding violent crime.

Are We Facing an Epidemic?

First and foremost, the odds of dying in a mass shooting in a given year are far lower than one in a million. In fact, in 2016, there were only 71 deaths from mass shootings (excluding war casualties). Once again, this figure is 71 people too many, but it is clear that we are not living in a culture of mass shootings, where deaths from them are normal and expected. In 2018, though the year is not over, the figure has not changed dramatically, sitting at 68, even after the 23 in recent weeks. With a population of over 325 million and rising, the odds thus lie below 1 in four million of being a victim of a mass shooting.

This definition of mass shooting, though, is relatively narrow. It involves an incident with four or more casualties at the hands of one shooter (or two, acting in tandem). It also excludes domestic violence and gang assaults, as well as awry robberies. Essentially, this is a figure that gives the odds of being the victim of a random act of violence.

Violent Crime’s Steady Decline

What would happen, then, if I was to expand the lens to all acts of violent crime? Perhaps, then, it would become clear that today’s America is far more dangerous than that of the past. Yet, it appears that, compared with 30 years ago, America is actually considerably safer.

Since 1991, the violent crime rate in America has dramatically fallen. Then at 758.2 incidents per 100,000 people, it has nearly halved, now sitting at 382.9 incidents per 100,000. The same pattern occurs when looking at violent crimes committed by youth. In fact, the decline is even more dramatic. In 1993, Americans aged 12-17 committed 1.1 million violent crimes. Since then, however, the figure has fallen to a mere 182,000. Murder and robbery follow a similar pattern, decreasing by about half since the early 1990s.

A Public Misconception: America is Safer

On the contrary, though, public perception of crime has actually taken a turn for the worse. A Pew Research study from the 2016 election polled voters about their perception of crime since 2008. Shockingly, the voters were not capable of determining the truth about crime rates. 59% of those surveyed, including 78% of those who voted for Donald Trump, believed that crime has worsened in the 8 years under President Obama. A plurality of Hillary Clinton voters agreed, despite the fact that both violent crime and property crime has drastically dropped over this span.

Without a doubt, America is safer than it has been in decades. Media, however, often sensationalizes the instances of crime that do occur more than they did previously. Gang violence in Chicago, for example, does not receive the attention that mass shootings in schools do, simply because there are more instances of violence. A media outlet could not possibly report in any detail on the inner happenings of gangs in cities.

The Copycat Effect

What is particularly interesting here, though, is the possibility of the copycat effect. Essentially, this states that when the media focuses so heavily on the name, story, information, and actions of the killer in a mass shooting, it inspires others to copy the action. These copycats may try to outdo the original killer or become more (in)famous.

A 2015 report states that as many as 20 to 30% of mass shootings are the result of the copycat effect. The effect, according to the report, lasts around two weeks. Moreover, it is worth noting that gang violence mass shootings receive less media attention and are less likely to cause a copycat effect. By the law of averages, the percentage must go up for acts such as theater and school shootings. If media did less to focus on and almost memorialize shooters, they could save lives.

Instead, media should place greater emphasis on the stories and legacies of victims. Though America is safer than it has been in decades, we are deeply flawed, with much room to improve. Clearly, the media has a role to play in this path. By reducing the copycat effect, they may save numerous lives. Uncomfortable though it may be, it’s time for the media to have that discussion and begin action.

Perhaps the names and stories of killers are profitable. Perhaps they bring about a larger viewer base over the opposing network. But we at 71 Republic declare that profit is second to human life. Media, upon recognizing the copycat effect, should immediately cease glorifying, or even naming, school shooters in the wake of attacks.


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Santa Fe Didn’t Fit The Left’s Narrative, So We All Stopped Talking About It

By Clint Sharp | United States

On February 14, 2018,  19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. In only a few short minutes, the young man killed 17 people and injured 17 others with an AR-15 style rifle before being apprehended by police.

This horrid act sparked outrage across the nation. For months, gun control was the main topic of conversation across the nation with walk-outs, protests, debates, and gun bills popping up around every corner. Television, newspapers, and social media outlets streamed nonstop updates on the mass shooting and followed all of the controversy surrounding it. Although many believed that this shooting meant the end of our 2nd Amendment rights, it soon faded from headlines, leaving behind a trail of people still fighting to remove the rights of individuals.

Fast forward to May 18 of the same year, and a very different story is told. 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Armed with a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun and a .38 revolver, the student walked into the school’s art complex and began shooting at approximately 7:40 AM before being brought into custody. Explosives were found at the scene but were unused.

Although this shooting was reported on major news outlets, it was very quickly passed off as old news within a couple of days. So why did a shooting like the one that happened at Stoneman Douglas cause such a national stir while the shooting at Santa Fe was only mentioned in passing? Simply put, it did not match the agenda of the left-wing activists and politicians.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was exactly what the left had hoped for. A young man with known mental issues and of legal age to purchase a gun obtained an assault-style rifle with multiple high-capacity magazines and shot up a school in a conservative state (according to 2016 poll results).

Truly a perfect storm.

From this, they could argue that it was too easy for Cruz to obtain an assault-style rifle. They could argue that he was mentally ill, yet still managed to purchase a firearm due to his age and lack of criminal record. They could argue the purpose of high capacity magazines and assault-style rifles in the hands of non-military personnel and whether they were protected under the 2nd Amendment. The left could appeal to the emotions of the entire nation, after all, is the individual’s freedom worth forfeiting the safety of our children?

Santa Fe on the other hand, while still a tragedy, is the antithesis of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. A minor stole a legally obtained pump action shotgun, perhaps the most common long gun in the United States, and a 6-shot revolver from his father. He saws the barrel of the shotgun off, an illegal action, and carries the two guns to school to commit his heinous actions.

This proves that the type of gun, the capacity of the firearm, the age of the shooter, and the means by which the weapons are obtained are mostly arbitrary to the amount of damage that can be caused by an evil individual, thus rendering the left’s points null and void.

It is for this reason that the Santa Fe shooting was swept under the rug. It proved that shootings and mass violence are not caused by assault-style rifles, high capacity magazines, lax gun laws, and the 2nd Amendment, but rather by evil and twisted individuals who desire to be nothing more than the genesis of grief for people all over the nation. It didn’t fit the agenda of the overwhelmingly liberal media so it was only mentioned, not covered.

The act of ignoring this tragic loss of human life brings to question what other things remain hidden in the dark shroud outside of party and ideological agendas, on both the right and the left.

How many people have been murdered silently due to apathy? How many bills have been passed without question because the public did not know?

Until agendas are put aside for the sake of information, more and more will remain hidden from the public and more and more will happen without anyone’s knowledge otherwise.


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Nasim Aghdam’s Archive Of Insanity: YouTube, Art & Terror

Spencer Kellogg | United States

Who was the YouTube Shooter? An unstable psycho-art vegan that fits uncomfortably outside the stereotypical lens of the mainstream media’s anti-gun slant, Nasim Aghdam (who went by Nasim Sabz) has been glossed over in the media since the shooting spree that left three wounded and herself dead outside YouTube’s headquarters in California. In the last week Nasim’s life story has been written off and summarily described in three distinct words; vegan, bodybuilder, and crazy.

In her work, Aghdam (who went by Sabz on her numerous social accounts), is a raw, out of control psychedelic disco. A manic carousel of labored postmodernism, Nasim’s videos showed her to be a bewitching performer in the same vein as other contemporary video art rockstars like Ryan Trecartin & Titanic Sinclair. In the self-made and self-featured videos, Aghdam’s work ranged from nightmare aerobic CGI to candy-colored landscapes that acted as a platform for art that ran the gamut from music video to political activism.

In many of her lo-fi videos, Nasim mixed video and sound to create an aesthetic palette that was all her own. Sometimes, she just made simple instruction videos on how to cook her favorite vegan foods. Usually, a deadpanned stare greeted her viewers as she danced and sang her way through showtime routines and hallucinatory landscapes. Food featured prominently in her work and her devout belief in animal rights was laid bare in a clip where she holds a sign that reads “Meat Is Murder.”

Had she made these videos for a contemporary art gallery, there is a very real chance that Aghdam would have found a safety net of financial backing, a community of like-minded makers and the accolades that accompany such things. It has been noted that Aghdam was a viral sensation in Iran and her work is the sort that critics often find ripe for its multicultural accounting on the moral vapidity of modern America through an atypical ‘outsider lens.’

In “America’s Got Talent Show Contest,” Nasim intercuts CGI video of herself performing ninja moves in front of a stunned panel of judges. Simon Cowell thanks her behind a slaptrack of thunderous applause.

This is the exactly the type of insane work that has made careers in the modern world of performance art.

Who gets to defines crazy? When Kendell Jenner recreates the belabored ‘cut piece‘ in front of glowing cameras and paparazzi in tow, is she not crazy? If we were to leave the definition of crazy in the hands of our corporate media who are reliant on the sales of pharmaceutical ad space, we might assume that to be crazy means simply to live the tortured existential despair of a suburban mother. If we allowed the modern art school intelligentsia to define crazy, we would most definitely find an empty space where Aghdam would have fit soundly. In the modern classroom, this third-eye wandering, gender androgynous, anti-capitalist artist finds a comforting safe space and Aghdam’s particular brand would have been applauded for its brave advocation of animal rights, veganism, and counter-culture feminism.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Nasim’s work has already found support in the mainstream culture. Although her videos were taken down by YouTube, users are quickly posting copies and both the conversation and viewership for her work are seeing a substantial uptick. While many have so far mocked the videos for their lack of production value and overall bizarre content, some have begun celebrating the late Aghdam in the comment sections of her reshared videos.

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Some of her pieces are already finding a second life as remixed music videos set to legendary songs by famed artists like Hall & Oates. The response has been overwhelmingly positive with one commentator gushing: “This is my new favorite shooter. Sorry, Elliot Rodger.”

Yes, this is the world we are living in.

In her piece “Do You Dare,” Nasim performs aerobics in a camouflage zip-up jacket while a song she produced plays in the background. The piece reminds me distinctly of two well-known video and music artists of the last 50 years. First, the bizarre and ‘crazy’ videos that Shia Labeuof released in his “Just Do It” phase. Secondly, the music belays a similar rhythm and sound to the late Lizzy Descloux’s insatiable dancefloor albums.

The video blends the style and sensibilities of free-form 80’s video art with the soft sell sexualism that became ever-present in her work. The blurred lines between sex and psychosis have always been a selling point in capitalist America and the world of performance art is no different. Looking through the careers of performance art luminaries like Marina AbromivichGeneva Jacuzzi, and Yoko Ono, you will find a common thread of bizarre and borderline crazy work.

In the past year, Aghdam had grown angry with YouTube over the demonetization of her account. Although her work had gone viral in Iran and she boasted a sizeable following, Aghdam argued that she was being censored for her fringe political views. A rough sketch of the days leading up to the spree suggests that someone missed the chance to potentially stop the shooting. Her family knew she was angry at YouTube and have told reporters that they warned San Bruno officers that she might be headed to the tech companies headquarters. That claim has been disputed by police.

a12Recently her work had turned toward the political nature of censorship in the United States. Nasim’s belief that her videos were worth than she was being paid led her to a cliff of despair. In the hypercompetitive world of online self-made celebrities, Aghdam had grown tired of what she saw as the sexual degradation of society. She lamented that the only way to make money was to be ‘stupid’.

Never talk about moral or human issues. Never talk about your own views. Otherwise you will be discriminated and censored. Growing on youtube is not in your hands. It all depends on who is controlling your channel. If he or she likes your videos, then they will let your videos get views. Otherwise… Your videos will be merely regulated.

Aghdam is not the first mass shooter to leave a video diary of their depressing existence. A minority of conspiracy theorists have suggested the entire event was a ‘false flag’ operation performed by the deep state.  She joins a small group of mass shooters who have left hours of footage to be gleaned over by the general public.

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Maryland Shooting Proves Necessity of Armed Security

By Ryan Lau | Maryland

After the Parkland high school shooting left 17 students and teachers dead, America demanded change. All sides of the political spectrum gave their ideas as to how to protect our country and stop mass shootings. Generally, people made one, or both, of two main arguments. First, that the United States should implement stricter gun control in order to cut down on the number of shootings. Second, many suggested arming school staff so they can protect students in the event of an emergency.

This proposal, which President Trump endorses, has drawn a lot of backlash from the Democratic Party. Many Democrats oppose the very idea of putting guns in the same building as kids, for fear of more violence. “I disagree vehemently with putting guns with children”, said Florida State Rep. Evan Jenne of Hollywood. Many across the nation feel this same sentiment, fearing an unsafe environment. But this Tuesday, the concept of arming school employees proved to be critical in saving a number of lives.

Tuesday morning, an armed student entered Great Mills High School in Maryland. Before classes began, the student fired his weapon down a hall, hitting a girl and a boy, both students. Yet, immediately after, a School Resource Officer went after and killed the shooter. Simply put, this would not have been possible if that guard was not carrying a gun. Clearly, having armed security guards in the building has the potential to save lives.

Without a doubt, the presence of that armed guard saved the lives of several other students. As the shooting occurred before class, the hallways were full of students. In such a crowded environment, these students, without a form of defense, are sitting ducks. When only one student has a gun, and a clear mental issue, defense is necessary. Without a form of defense, more tragedies are inevitable.

During the armed guard’s pursuit of the shooter, a shootout ensued. Though police do not yet know exactly how many bullets the gunman fired, they are certain it was multiple. In fact, they are unsure which bullet struck and killed the gunman. The guard, who left the incident unharmed, became the new target for the shooter. He may have otherwise used some or all of them against his fellow students, teachers, or other staff.

Nobody can say for sure exactly what would have happened in this incident without the heroic actions of the guard. One thing is certain, however, and that is that in this case, a gun in a school saved lives. We must recognize that the safety of America’s children is on the line. Our future generation’s lives are on the line.

Of course, placing guns into American schools is not an easy concept to grasp. A mere twenty years ago, the idea would have been laughable. However, our society is changing very quickly. Though media does admittedly sensationalize some aspects of our mass shooting problem, there absolutely is a problem. One mass shooting or one school shooting is one too many.

Clearly, this solution will work. It worked today in Maryland. The similar concept of armed defense worked to prevent deaths in the recent Texas church shooting. We must recognize this truth, and not shy away from it any longer. Students are dying, and one is too many. Despite this, two injuries is a much more favorable outcome than the deaths that would have otherwise occurred. We must immediately, for the sake of American children, ensure more schools are armed with highly trained and armed guards.

An Interview With Maj Toure, Founder Of Black Guns Matter

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

Maj Toure is founder of the firearms and safety training organization Black Guns Matter. He is a passionate advocate for gun ownership and education. In the past few years Toure has become a leading voice for second amendment advocation in the cities of America. He is currently on a 50 state tour to spread his message. 71 Republic’s Spencer Kellogg spoke by phone with Mr. Toure last week:

Who Are You & What Do You Do:

I am the founder of Black Guns Matter, we are a firearm and safety training organization. I’m from Philadelphia and that’s where we’re based out of. The birthplace of America. We go to urban areas in the country where there are high levels of gun control and inform people who want to know how to safely, responsibly and lawfully own firearms. We also give them information on the second amendment and how it applies to them. A lot of times, people in urban areas don’t think the second amendment applies to them and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. We are trying to make the hood great again.

On Gun Control

The root of gun control is racist. All forms of gun control come right after emancipation because you had black people that had the ability to be full citizens. That’s where Jim Crow comes from. We couldn’t have black people that were just slaves having the means to defend themselves. That’s why people of color in America have a strong history with firearms because they were used for the same reason that any other person uses them for; to defend their life and to protect their liberty. After emancipation large pockets of African Americans go to Detroit, Chicago, LA, Atlanta. That’s where gun control followed. Gun control is not necessarily about gun control. Gun control is about people control. If I have the means to defend myself just like the founding father’s did (and you do), and I know that… It’s much more difficult to control me.

On Evil & Mass Shootings

There is evil in the world. People always tout Australia or The United Kingdom for their limitations on firearms but they also don’t factor in that they’re stabbings are through the roof. They leave that part out. There are evil people in the world. The questions becomes, If they have the tool and their intent is to fuck shit up, do you at least want the fighting chance to defend yourself from the people with the evil intent? If I’m the person that’s in that school. That teacher. That assistant. Those children. At that moment, they would’ve given all the money in their bank account for one firearm to have the ability to defend themselves or their children. The person that’s doing this may be a psychopath on one level, but they’re not stupid. There’s never a mass shooting at a gun range or a police department because you know there are people there to return fire.

We talk about respect for our veterans but a lot of our veterans are homeless, don’t have jobs & don’t have insurance. Imagine if there were two or three armed vets at that school along with certain teachers that decided they wanted to take the training and have a biometric safe in their class as a last line of defense.

On Guns In The School

50 years ago, firearms safety was a class in public schools in America. Crime was down. Those people who say “I can’t imagine a school with a firearm in it,” they’re crazy and they don’t know history. Time magazine has done reporting on this. This was a class in American Public Schools but we get very short termed on our memory and the media make it seem like an insane thing that could never happen because the media is in league with people that do not want you to have the ability to defend yourself.

On The Second Amendment

When the founding fathers wrote the second amendment, it’s very clear that it was there to defend against a tyrannical government. Not just for hunting. Some say “you live in an urban area, you don’t need to hunt.” That’s not what the second amendment is for. When they wrote it, our governing body had just come from a tyrannical situation in Britain. They were the felons, per say. If they had lost the Revolutionary War, they would’ve been sent back and hung. When they wrote that, they were thinking about having a system of checks and balances that said we the people run things.

Do You Trust Your Government?

It’s not about trust – it’s about knowledge. I know that absolute power corrupts absolutely. I also know who I love and care about. It’s not about distrusting anybody else, it’s about the trust and love that I have for my friends, family and way of life. That’s what these firearms are for. If someone is trying to stop my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, my firearm will defend those things. I think that people are too dependent on government, and because of that don’t even feel like they should fight back against certain things. The government works for you. You do not work for the government.

What Is Your Political Affiliation?

I have to exist everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I don’t stand anywhere politically.

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On Black Lives Matter

No we’re not affiliated with them at all. Not in a negative way but for me, they advocated ‘hands up don’t shoot’ and that’s a very submissive position. I don’t take that position. I will never fucking surrender, ever.

What Are Your Opinions On The NRA?

I think the NRA is the largest civil rights organization in the world. I don’t think they do a good job showcasing some of the support they’ve had for the minority community. They don’t promote what they did for Ottis McDonald enough. McDonald fought back successfully. Chicago was trying to stop firearms and handguns in the inner city and the NRA supported McDonald with his case. I think they’re not doing a good enough job explaining how they helped out that and that’s where I think they’re dropping the ball. We could end “the NRA is racist talk” if they just make certain moves. The money they spend on food budgets and flights, they could finance the rest of our tour. We could end the racist conversation immediately. I was at the annual meeting last April and I’ll be at the one coming up in Dallas on May 2nd.

What Has Been The Biggest Success As An Organization?

Getting firearms training in the public schools and working on the curriculum to try and get that into all the schools in America.

On The Founding Fathers

The founders of those documents were from the hood. They were hood, just like us. Over time, we’ve deified them but they were the poor dudes. They turned into something else but they were the original boots on the ground. I read everything that people in different demographics tell you ‘don’t read.’ If someone says ‘oh, that’s not for you,’ then I’m reading it.

On Guns & Philly:

I’ve always had guns. I’m from North Philly. I can get a gun quicker than I can get a soda. There are guns everywhere in Philly. There are guns in ever major city and there is supposed to be! The problem is, the information is marketed that only the bad guys or cops have firearms. Now you have this mentality of fear and that you’re doing a bad thing when you really just have a firearm for the same reason the police have it – to protect themselves and their loved ones from the bullshit. Then they make laws where you get 5 years for not filling out this piece of paperwork and you’re a felon. Nobody wants to be open about it. How can we do this without getting trapped? How can we inform people from the beginning so they understand their fundamental rights? Every single city that I’ve gone to, everybody’s got a possession charge. Not that they shot someone, not that they robbed a liquor store, not like they were knocking over old ladies. They’ve got a possession charge and are staring at 5 years for even having it. Then you see that it’s a highly organized phenomena and you start organizing against it. We’re gonna overturn the bullshit just like our founding fathers did. It’s people expressing their voice and it’s the American thing to do! So, we’re doing it.