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HORIST: Call the mass killers by what they are – psychopaths

HORIST: Call the mass killers by what they are – psychopaths

Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  That seems to be what we are doing in terms of these horrendous mass killings that have come to characterize modern America.

The problem is that our politicians and the media repeatedly cast these increasingly frequent events in political terms – carried out for political advantage.  In the wake of the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings the knee-jerk narratives are being played out all over the media by politicians, political pundits and the press.

Virtually all the guests on CNN and MSNBC blame these attacks on President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans in general and on FOX News – saying that they are the very cause of these shootings.  The platoon of Democratic presidential candidates are running to the cameras to make these two tragedies a political asset for their campaigns.

Not long ago, most of these types of attacks were declared to be the result of Muslim extremist terrorism — although the politically correct left was loath to call it by that name in those days.  Ironically, now that an increasing number of shootings are committed by white supremacists, those same voices are now chanting the mantra that we must call it by what it is.  Putting their blatant hypocrisy aside, they were wrong to avoid identifying the culprits by name in the past but correct in calling out hate-mongering white supremacists by name for their heinous acts of violence.  But those labels do not lead to the root of the problem.

To address the problem, we must first identify the core causes – not just look at political appliques.  We must abandon the partisan narratives with their simplistic faux solutions.  Civil rights leader Whitney Young provided the path to resolution of racial friction by saying that we do not need coalitions of blacks to oppose coalitions of whites, but rather coalitions of good people against the coalitions of evil.  That concept has broader applications – including in dealing with the problem of mass killings.

The first step in solving a problem is to properly identify the core causes.  Our political finger-pointing diverts us from that essential first step.

We can engage in an intelligent and civil discussion as to the role of the weapon.  But the so-called assault rifle is only a device.  They do not kill on their own.  It is the person that commits the crime.  As long as we are a free people living in this constitutional Republic, we the people will retain the right to bear arms – as hunters, sportspersons, collectors and for personal security.

It is not, however, a right without limits or restrictions.  As a non-gun owning defender of the Second Amendment, I have no problem with reasonable restrictions – especially those that limit the firepower of individual weapons – such as the 100-round magazine used by the Dayton shooter.  Automatic weapons are already illegal – and it makes sense to me to make the bump stock illegal since its only purpose is to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an illegal automatic weapon.  I would be okay with that and limiting magazine capacities.  I have no problem with licensing, background checks and delayed delivery.

But … we must also recognize that such restrictions would not do much to stop the wave of rampage killings. Politicians who offer these as preventative measures are deceiving the public for political reasons.

It is equally important to understand that there are several surface motivations – religious differences, racism, anti-government sentiment, workplace issues, romantic rejection and sexual obsession.  But none of these motivations are the fundamental reasons for the seemingly senseless murderous actions of these individuals.  The vast majority of people deal with these issues in their lives without becoming violent.

There is a common thread to be found.  It is in plain sight.  In every case, the person – no matter the stated reason or political preference – is psychotic.  According to postmortem news reports, these individuals had intense feelings of inferiority –  losers in life – coupled with a malignant desire for notoriety – even if it is in the form of infamy.

They were NOT motivated to advance any cause or movement despite those online postings and manifestos since their very actions could only serve to set back their alleged antisocial objectives.  They hurt the causes they proclaim to support – and had every reason to know that.

They were not looking to be victorious in their actions.  For most of them, mass murder was merely a prelude to their own deaths.  It was a self-destructive act.  At best they were seeking some perverse level of reputational immortality.  Even those who escaped death at the scene had to know that they would not get away with it.  They would likely spend the rest of their lives in prison or be put to death where capital punishment is an option.

The question to be addressed is why there is such a series of these rampage killings in America at this time.  While there is a wide range of stated or implied motivations, there is a common thread – and it is notoriety.  Despite the alleged rationales, all these individuals sought attention – and they were copycats.

Each perpetrator saw how his predecessors gained national and international attention.  The entire news industry stopped reporting on the broad range of events to focus 24/7 on these despicable crimes.  The names and images of the shooters appeared on every broadcast.

Realizing this desire by the shooters, some news networks have reduced the publicity level to some degree.  In the latest shootings, FOX News has refused to report the name or image of the shooter and they continued with regular programming between updates.  CNN indicated they would only mention the name once – although it seemed to mean once on each program.  They later gave the names and images of the El Paso and Dayton shooters as usual.  MSNBC showed no such restraint whatsoever.

Personally, I believe that not naming the shooter and not covering the story hour after hour would have a measurable positive impact on the culture of mass killing.  And anyone who has watched the continuous coverage knows that there is virtually nothing new to report for extended periods of time.  Instead, the networks will fill in with panelists baselessly conjecturing on what was going on behind the scenes or providing nothing more than political prattle.  In many ways, it is the news industry that has given the shooters the sensationalism they crave.

Copycat-ism is a strong motivation – especially when it comes to the “type” of killings.  They come in groups for a reason.  For those old enough to remember, there was a time when sexually based multiple killings were part of the American culture.  If names are not familiar, you can search the Schuessler-Peterson murders, the Grimes sisters, Jeffery Dahmer, John Gacy and others.  Then there was the era of workplace shootings.  Several occurred at Post Office facilities – so many that the workplace shootings became known as “going postal.”  Those expressions of psychopathic behavior have been replaced by the current wave.

During those past eras, society asked the same questions.  Why is this happening in America?  What is the cause?  There seems to be only one answer – mental illness triggered by copycat-ism.  Talk about guns or talk about even malignant social and political movements not only does not get to the root of the matter, but they divert attention from dealing with the psychotic behavior of these individuals.

This is not to suggest that we should ignore the social movements and other stated motivations.  They serve to provide the pretext for the psychopathic behavior.  But it is the psychoticism of the individual that may be the real core cause.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Dave

    In addition we have a new player in our society which has numbed our children and young adults to the finality of death through violent games. This is a training ground for most mass shooters as they practice their final acts over and over again. There is nothing sexy, glorious, or spectacular about someone getting killed. It is the end of a life, in a lot of cases bodily tissue is spread over a large area, and bodies just drop in place to bleed out. So a shooter goes on to the next one expecting something different as they saw in their games, and do it all over and over again. After all they can stop anytime and just do a reset and all that were killed in the game just pop up and get to be shot again and again. Fantasy and reality are two different things. Games are fantasy connection for those who are society inept, reality is not the same as sons, fathers, husbands, grandfathers, brothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and others who had their own lives to live have it taken away for no reason what so ever. Something has to be done to stop this madness.
    I am a gun owner, believe in the Constitution, have served my country in the Army, and am 72. I see things from my point view only, of course, but I don’t believe that mass gun control or confiscation is appropriate or the answer. Instead, I do agree that some sort of filter should be put in place to keep guns out of the hands of those who don’t need them for a variety of reasons. I feel everyone who has or wants a gun should be required to go through a Fire Arms School where an instructor has a chance to look at people and evaluate them before a gun is authorized to be sold to them. Men and Women who have served the US Armed Forces and have been trained already pass these requirements. Have you ever heard of a veteran doing a mass shooting? Further, I think the human mind is not fully capable of functioning until after the age of 21, and therefore incapable of fully analyzing the full ramifications of such an act. Perhaps a rule or law should be that no person under the age of 21 can own, operate, or be around firearms unless under the direct and immediate instruction of an adult. Of course, I was not a fan of lowering the age of voting to 18 for the same reasons, but that is a different story. Then the penalty should be that both the listed adult responsible, and person under 21, should be held responsible for the operation of any weapon and be subject to prison time if convicted of such illegal operation of the weapon, that it should be a felony conviction and penalty period of not less than ten years with no chance of parole. Weapons must be secured in a locked and approved gun safe when not in use. High capacity magazines should be completely outlawed and magazines of no more than a dozen or less rounds be a standard. Any variance should take a Federal Permit much like fully auto weapons of today.

  2. carol

    Horist is right. It’s not the guns, its the crazies that need to be banned.

  3. Andrew


  4. Andrew

    Learn to pronounce
    a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
    “four commercial aircraft were hijacked by terrorists”
    synonyms: bomber, arsonist, incendiary; More
    unlawfully using violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

  5. R.F. HORKA

    the latest so called solution “red flag” laws won’t stop a psycho because the person who knows he’s a nut won’t rat him off because he does’t want to be #1 on his list !!!!!

  6. You Must Be Horace

    Psychopaths? I wouldn’t even dignify it with that term. I think it’s too convenient to call this mental illness. These people chose evil. And, every time, we try to call that choice some kind of mental illness because the alternative…that they may not have been that different from us…from any angry “victim” who feels powerless and wants to “do” something about it and finally decides to cross over that line. Because the norms keep getting stretched, don’t they. And these mostly white men are just a little angrier than you and a little less in control.
    BTW, violent video games are played all over the world and those countries don’t have this problem so that’s a non-starter…just another scapegoat.
    No…really what we have here are spoiled brats who never learned to control themselves or use their anger constructively. And they’re cowards, thinking that sucker-punching the unarmed and babies with bullets is some kind of power stroke. You might notice they never target the armed and dangerous types….oh no. Their targets are always children or moms and dads out working or playing. We’ll never see one of these pencil-pee-pee jerks try to walk into a police station or a biker crowd and pull that crap. Worthless worms and cowards, every one. Anyone even contemplating this crap needs to feel the lash of our contempt and our refusal to remember their names, I don’t care what your political persuasion is. Good people agree that behavior is not just unacceptable. It is beneath contempt. Stop dignifying them with labels like terrorist or psychopath. That shit just makes them smile and feel like they’re bad-ass. We KNOW they’re just weak brats.

  7. David Barron

    This is big business for Politicians who make millions off the incidents. Do you really think they want to end it?

  8. David Barron

    Again California leads the nation only this time in mass killings. I think we need to thank those who are most responsible for their classic socialist and idiotic leadership from the state. These individuals include Governor’s Newsom, Brown, Swartinagger, and the other members of the controlling families plus Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Maxine Waters, Duiane Feinstein, and of course how can we not leave out Adam Schliff. Lets let them all take a bow for their inept socialist and at times illegal leadership.