Right after a loser in Oregon shot up a community college, another one killed his family and himself here in exurban Atlanta:
“No, nothing’s going on,” Rebecca Manning told Forsyth County deputies Tuesday night.
Despite the argument neighbors saw and heard, Manning said nothing had happened between her and her estranged husband, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday. Hours later, she and her two sons were dead and her father critically injured, allegedly because of her husband’s actions, according to authorities.
You can write the story yourself: weak, violent man is thwarted; weak, violent man gets one of the millions of guns just floating around Georgia; weak man kills family and self. Depressing, awful, not even worth writing fiction about, all because it’s the script that weak, violent men act out at least once a day in America.
There are two types of this sort of mass shooting incident, both represented here. The guy in Oregon was the young, awkward but “intelligent” in a very narrow sense guy, whose creepy misogyny drives women away but whose lack of social skills make it impossible for him to figure out quite why. He’s steeped in bad science fiction and fantasy, where the geeky smart guy is ultimately awarded a hot girl, but despite his delusional self-regard, women actively avoid him. He thinks the Reddit Red Pill and Pick-up Artist advice techniques are actually helping. Sooner or later, the cognitive dissonance between his vivid fantasy life and his prosaic real one with its mediocrity turns to violence; and in America, violence means multiple deaths from gunshot wounds instead of “just” a knife or club.
The killer of Rebecca Manning and her sons is the second type: about forty, also pretty much a failure: an angry, stupid and fundamentally very weak man whose masculinity is incredibly fragile. He pushes his way through the weak(er) people around him, but when his personal or legal chickens come home to roost, he lashes out, because he needs to erase the witnesses to his humiliation. And again, since we’re awash in guns, this erasure is permanent in four out of five cases.
Entitled, thwarted beta males are a public health threat of the first magnitude. But what can we do about it? Change models of masculinity, and do something about guns.
With respect to fiction, the only angle I can think to pursue is to tell the story from the wife’s perspective. Why does she fail to protect her children when she has the chance?