I'm not dismissive. I'm not inured. But I'm not paranoid.
First off, let's start with this, just a little clarity, especially compared to the mess of stuff over at The Guardian. I never thought I would quote the NYT positively in relation to The Guardian, but, well. I am. I was actually planning on pointlessly posting a pointless rant against the Guardian's editorial page a few days ago. But it was pointless.
I'm going to say very little and all at the same time.
Ideally, I would live in a world where a few people who enjoyed hunting had rifles. And that's about it. There is virtually no gun control legislation I would find too restrictive (unless none of it applied to the police). But, on another level, I don't really care. I care about the death and the violence, not the guns. Yeah the two are related. But still. It may be that guns enable people to enact violence upon and exert control over other people, but, you know, so does legislation. No I'm not a closet libertarian. I promise.
I'm going to back up to move forward.
First off, you are right, the Right is using mental illness as a means of deflecting attention away from gun control and the power of the NRA. The legislation mentioned looks atrocious. Of course. That being said, is there absolutely nothing to the seemingly-commonsensical idea that, you know, hey, walking into a public place armed to the eyebrows and shooting a bunch of people you don't know, well, I mean, can we call that mental illness after the fact and then find a different phrase for those of us who struggle with depression or OCD or whatever else but, who, nevertheless, entertain no fantasies of violence (ok actually I am lying about that one - I had a dream, once - it involved preternatural accuracy with a sniper rifle, a few fake passports, a copy of the Forbes 400 and a large Sharpie filled with red ink)?
And secondly, I dunno, given the Times article above, exactly who is rationalizing what? Why isn't it using tragedy for political gain when the gain in question is gun control legislation. And of course, that is why there is such a disparity between the number of mass shootings in America quoted in The Times and The Guardian. And why I like The Times a little more today. There is something altogether too convenient about lumping gang violence and random shooting together. Ultimately, the problem with dismissing those who fire random shots into random crowds as mentally ill is that the responsibility for understanding them is no longer ours. And when shootings stemming from gang violence, from poverty, etc. are included as part of the same category as random/random, then even more responsibility is avoided. In a way, it reminds me of the debate on marijuana legalization. You can say poor, black, all you want, but racist cops, to use the vernacular, gonna lock motherfuckers up, regardless. But now white people can get stoned without worrying about having to put a felony on their college applications. Great. Nah.
It's not like things were so great before this started happening so often. But now people are scared. They no longer have the freedom to be indifferent. But they still have the freedom to be indifferent to what that indifference has wrought.
OK so I'm going into fuck-the-middle-class mode again here. I'm trying to not be so much of a cliche. It's not working. Sorry. I love you.
I guess one of the smartest things I ever read is that it's more radical to change people's desires than their behavior. But gun control doesn't even quite reach the latter goal, never mind the former. As, "lord" help me, Michael Moore noted in Bowling For Columbine, there's plenty of guns in Canada. And less people dying. Sure it's the guns, but it isn't. Not really. The guns aid in the realization of a desire. And what is that desire? Why does America produce so much of it? Answering those questions might require a different sort of response, may force us to acknowledge ourselves as part of, partially responsible for, the world we find ourselves in.
Underlying the placid, but misguided, calls for gun control, the mean-spirited attacks on the mentally-maladjusted is a feeling, surely not unfamiliar to someone about to commit mass murder, that there is an unbridgeable divide between "us" and "them" that cannot be reconciled. And so the violence continues.