Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 28, 2014

House of Burgess: Life you save may be yours

Suicide 3 times likelier among gun owners

On Saturday, a broken man named Richard Martinez delivered a statement to the press on behalf of his family. The day before, his son, Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20, was shot in Isla Vista, California, by Elliot Rodger, 22.

“You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does,” he said into the bouquet of microphones, his voice shaking. “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?”

The terrible spree began at Rodger’s apartment, where he had stabbed three men to death. Rodger then proceeded to use three pistols and his BMW 328i coupé to maim, injure and kill many more. All told, the attack left seven, including Rodger, dead. Thirteen more were injured, eight of those by bullets.

As per usual, the National Rifle Association seems to be giving this story a few days to breathe before jumping in. Although, if the precedent set by its response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting holds true, I wouldn’t be surprised if another hasty press conference is convened by the end of this week.

“The NRA … seems to have remained silent so far, and did not respond to calls from NBC News for comment,” reported Elisha Fieldstadt, staff writer, on Sunday. “The powerful organization has generally been critical of any efforts to curtail the right for citizens to own and carry firearms.”

In the meantime, a 107,000-word, 137-page manifesto by Rodger was obtained by KEYT-TV and others. I read as much as I could stomach of “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger.” The impression I came away with was of a myopic, self-pitying, grandiose misogynist obsessed with status, sexual frustration and vengeance.

There seems to be a trend of self-annihilation at the end of these sprees, which was really the point all along. (Think: Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc.) These situations are violent suicides with a higher body count than normal. It is only their desire for acknowledgement of the perpetrator’s own perceived greatness that causes the violence to extend beyond themselves. (Near the end of his screed, Rodger calls himself “magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent … Divine!”)

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