8 Jun 2022 – The crazy shooting done by Salvador Rolando Ramos at Uvalde (Texas) has suddenly opened the Pandora Box of the many problems behind a unique chronic trend of the USA: the very frequent killing of innocent people with firearms officially accepted by the Constitution, easily available on the market and so readily used to kill indiscriminately by the citizens of a supposedly civilized nation.
A lot of talking is currently going on about what happened (many mistakes) on May 24th in that small Texan town, while one should, instead, fly higher and try to understand the primary cause: how violence grew such strong roots in the USA. I will try to introduce here new aspects of this little discussed problem.
The American Civil War was not fought only over slavery (the currently preferred simple explanation), but over several socio-political issues that separated the States in the north from those in the south of the new developing United States of America: a) the issue of States’ Rights (more independence from federal power was important for southern States), b) the attribution of new States (from Territories) to the northern or the southern grouping, and c) two different types of economies that caused an increasing geographic Sectionalism (the low-cost manual labor of the south preferred free trade, while the mechanized industry of the north preferred tariffs and protectionism).
The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the USA in November of 1860 was the final trigger (not the only cause) for a gradual secession of several southern States from the United States of the north. The civil war started gradually in 1861 and gradually finished in 1865. After four years of battles and about one million of dead soldiers, the industrial North won the war, and the USA were forcibly unified again. But it was not a simple geographical victory, it was the victory of a culture of violence and militarism supported by the believe in a “manifest destiny” that justifies imperialism, all ideas that remain the backbone of the USA.
The believe in a “manifest destiny” expressed itself early in the USA, even before the civil war, with the “gunboat diplomacy” action of 1853 by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who threatened with his guns the city of Uraga (then capital of Japan) to force Japan in opening to business with the USA. The idea of “manifest destiny” continued until after the second world war with violent interventions in South America to support non-democratic governments loyal to the USA, is continuing now with the existence of about 800 USA military bases in 70 foreign countries, and the recent expansion of NATO even after the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact.
This national policy of competition, greed, violence and imperialism has obviously percolated into the minds of people and influenced most socio-cultural traits: production (promoting take-overs of small business by large firms), consumption (promoting “having”, rather than “being”), trade (eliminating competitors in various manners), education (promoting competition for grades, rather than love for knowledge), technology (accepting any product, even those not necessary or contrary to human wellbeing), science (promoting projects preferred by business), entertainment (see below).
The main victims of this USA trend have been the influenceable brain of young males, to the point of them resorting to killing (the “translation” of militarism in a weak brain) as the reaction to personal frustrations in the absence of a solid humanistic base.
This is the initial, subconscious cause of how the USA is standing out in the world for a tragic record of public shootings. The issues about the second amendment of the Constitution, the quantity of firearms produced, and their easy availability come, instead, at the end of a chain of causes and effects. In the middle, there are important additional causes that the USA share with most countries in the world. The most important one concerns those passive entertainments (films, TV programs, and electronic games) that portrait violence, terror, war, bulling, so-called action films, new “noir” stories, etc. This is a florid industry enthusiastically supported by supposedly “normal” people all over the world. The special aspect, in this case, is that the public attachment to fictional violence generally lacks discussion in the media, enjoys a limited interest in academia, and is not identified as a significant factor in the creation and maintenance of violent behaviour among men. I mention this puzzling aspect in all my publications, but I have never received any feedback. I have however suggested a possible explanation concerning the brains of people in developed countries needing more adrenaline.
The USA authorities’ choice of reducing their interest only to the final cause (the availability of firearms) of this national tragedy indicates the political danger of asking people to change their own lifestyle, let alone abandoning their “national pride” (owning firearms).
Luckily, the misleading trend of looking up to the USA as the world model for western success and democracy is fading away among attentive citizens and intelligent journalists, while the press controlled by power systems in nominally free democratic countries – I am not referring to governments, rather to “the commercial / media / financial system”– continue their traditional americanization of the world. Within such old conservative trend there are, unfortunately, also scientific contributions. A recent one appeared on the reputed Sydney Morning Herald of June 6th (p. 19), with the article “Young men, their brain, and guns” by Ariana Eunjung Cha (see also the Washington Post of June 3rd “Young men, guns and the prefrontal cortex”).
Some psychologists noticed the young age of the male shooters: Uvalde’s shooter, Salvador Rolando Ramos, had just turned 18, Parkland’s shooter Nikolas Cruz was 19, Newton’s shooter Adam Lanza was 20, Virginia Tech’s shooter Seung-Hui Cho was 23, and Columbine’s shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were 18 and 17. An analysis of 196 mass public shootings in which four or more people were killed since 1966 showed that nearly 98 percent (all but five) of the perpetrators were men.
Forty percent of the shooters were between the ages of 18 and 29 and another third were between 30 and 45. The conclusion of this analysis was that the human brain continues to grow until 25 years of age (correct) and “irrational behaviour” (a strange way of paraphrasing “killing”) is a characteristic of male teenagers. I consider this investigation very superficial, ignoring research about the female brain, existing nonviolent cultures (see below), and lacking radical and practical suggestions toward how to prevent the occurrence of future public shooting in the USA.
Elsewhere (see note 1, Giorgi, 2020) I have reported about clear scientific information that is kept hidden to citizens by major media, such as the need of a correct early mother–infant close relation necessary to produce oxytocin by the infant brain for its future ability to express empathy, solidarity and cooperation when adult. The media also do not allow the public to know about several nonviolent cultures still existing in the world, that is, about the existence of the last true human beings following at least 50,000 years of general nonviolence throughout the world (see also note 1).
To conclude, the USA are suffering of a long-lasting disease due to their association with violence, militarism, drug addiction, lingering white supremacy, illusion of “manifest destiny”, and lingering ignorance about democracy. But the USA are rich, vibrant and with a minority of intelligent, progressive people. They have a chance to become a great human culture if they make important choices: saying goodbye to the few American people running power systems and embracing, instead, the few American peoples who are internationally recognised as leaders in education, democracy, and nonviolence.
 Giorgi, P.P. (2001) The origin of violence by cultural evolution. Minerva S & E, Brisbane (Australia). This book is out of print, but it can be downloaded for free at my blog www.pierogiorgi.org or borrowed from the University of Queensland library.
Giorgi, P.P. (2020) La rivoluzione nonviolenta (The nonviolent revolution), pp. 85-87. Gabrielli Editori, Verona (Italy). The updated English version is under preparation with the title “Good news for a nonviolent future”.
 Bruce D. Bonta (1993) Peaceful peoples – An annotated bibliography. The Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, N.Y, London.
 Fernandez, B. (2022) The legal psychedelic industry – Capitalism on drugs. Transcend Media Service, 9 May 2022.