The mass shooting in Buffalo, NY is the result of the tragic failure of the state’s police, gun laws, and mental health system, but that hasn’t stopped President Joe Biden and his progressive allies from blaming mainstream Republicans and targeting your fundamental rights, politicking before the bodies are cold and lying about the shooter’s own warped beliefs.
Last weekend, Peyton S. Gendron traveled 3.5 hours to a supermarket in Buffalo, NY. The 18-year old donned full tactical gear, armed himself with an assault rifle, and opened a livestream on Twitch before conducting a horrific attack that left 10 dead in one of the few black majority areas in upstate New York. Before the bodies were even cold, the mainstream media discovered that Mr. Gendron had posted the requisite “manifesto” online to explain his actions. This manifesto was the usual deranged mix produced by the paranoid schizophrenic mind, a bizarre combination of rambling ideology almost taken at random combined with no shortage of a persecution complex, but it mentioned something called the “great replacement theory” and he called himself a “white supremacist.” This led the media to immediately identify the real cause of the shooting: Conservative Republicans, of course, and everything they believe in from secure borders to free speech and the right to bear arms. Moreover, they surmised that Mr. Gendron wasn’t always this way and left to his own devices he wouldn’t have gone on a bloody rampage. Instead, he was “radicalized” online by other conservatives, turned into a killer by hate speech, and so the BBC fantasized about “how far-right killers are radicalized online.” The Associated Press claimed he “followed” a “familiar radicalization path.” He seemed to “fit an all-too-familiar profile: an aggrieved white man steeped in hate-filled conspiracies online, and inspired by other extremist massacres.” They quoted Christopher Costa, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council under President Trump. “That’s why everyone is so concerned. You just go and you pick your ideology — and then, if you have a weapon, you don’t need a big plan. What’s changed is the internet.”
The subtext here couldn’t be more obvious. In the mind of the mainstream media and their progressive allies, Mr. Gendron was just an ordinary young man until he encountered far right ideology online, and the encounter was so toxic that this previously nice, respectable kid decided to pick up a gun and start shooting people. The speech therefore is the dangerous part. Of course, they only arrive at this conclusion by completely glossing over everything in the manifesto that doesn’t fit the narrative, even assuming the ramblings of a madman can be trusted for anything. For their assertion to be true, Mr. Gendron would have to actually be a card carrying conservative Republican, a product of the new “Ultra MAGA” movement, and a disciple of Donald Trump. His own words, such as they are, however, reveal that he is not. In fact, he described himself variously as both “right wing” and “left wing” depending on the “definition.” He said specifically that he wasn’t a conservative because “conservatism is corporatism in disguise,” and he wants “no part of it.” Mr. Gendron even said he was a “socialist” so long as he supported the workers who own the means of production. As he put it, “When I was 12 I was deep into communist ideology, talk to anyone from my old highschool and ask about me and you will hear that. From age 15 to 18 however, I consistently moved farther to the right. On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist.”
This bizarre mixture of ideologies shouldn’t be the least bit surprising for an obviously mentally ill mass shooter. The manifesto in these cases never makes logical sense because, at the risk of sounding pedantic, logical, rational people don’t become mass shooters, no matter how far right or left on the ideological spectrum. The mind that would consider such an act is necessarily deranged, not radicalized but radical to begin with, latching onto everything and anything that captures their imagination for whatever insane reason. The only thing that’s truly common in these situations is the perception that the person is in possession of some unique knowledge or perspective that’s incredibly, crucially important, but that others don’t see for whatever reason. Hence, they have no choice except to act on their own. Nor should it be surprising that an individual suffering from a mental illness this severe didn’t start exhibiting strange behaviors overnight. There is always a trail of missed opportunities, and it wasn’t long before we learned that Mr. Gendron had previously been investigated by the police and underwent a mental examination.
Last June, New York State Troopers were called to Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, NY because Mr. Gendron specifically said he wanted to commit “murder suicide” while completing a school project which asked students about their plans after graduation. The police referred him for a psychiatric evaluation on June 8 under the state’s mental health laws, but he was released a couple of days later. Apparently, a 17 year old kid managed to convince a team of mental health professionals that he was only joking, and Mr. Gendron ultimately went on to graduate with the rest of his class. As he put it at the time, he “had to go to a hospital’s ER because I said the word’s ‘murder/suicide’ to an online paper in economics class.” “I got out of it,” he wrote, “because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down. That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns.” This wasn’t the only instance of erratic behavior, either. When students returned to class after the pandemic, he appeared in school in a full hazmat suit. “He wore the entire suit, boots, gloves, everything,” explained classmate Nathan Twitchell. “Everyone was just staring at him.” “He just wasn’t that social,” offered another classmate, Kolton Gardner who described him as “definitely a little bit of an outcast.” “I knew he had an interest in guns, but where we grew up that wasn’t uncommon. That’s just kind of the thing in rural New York, people like guns.”
According to New York State Law, however, people that are mentally unstable are supposed to be on a red flag list and unable to purchase them. Sadly, Mr. Gendron wasn’t on any such list despite his run in with the law and psychiatric evaluation, and he knew it. Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak isn’t surprised, though he appeared to be a bit blase about the state’s complete and total failure to enforce their own laws when he told CNN, “Unfortunately this is nothing new in the criminal justice system. Individuals that have mental health issues may have it under control for a period of time, and then one day they just snap and things as tragic as this happen.” We might call this the understatement of the year so far: Someone evaluated by professionals to determine their mental capacity after threatening murder-suicide just snapped and killed 10 people one day, don’t ask me how everyone whose job it is to prevent this kind of thing from happening under the law missed all the obvious signs. For their part, The New York Times described it this way, turning the situation into a mystery without any solution, “One of many unanswered questions posed by Mr. Gendron’s rampage is why his grim response about his post-graduation plans did not lead to further intervention beyond the mental-health exam.” “The law enforcement official who had been briefed on the school project said that in New York, there are hundreds of school threats called in each year, and that in each case, authorities interview the students and their parents to determine whether students have actual access to guns. The authorities then try to make a reasoned call.” Yes, a “reasoned call” that puts madmen back on the streets with no accountability whatsoever. Here are a few questions that come to mind: Who cleared Mr. Gendron at the psych ward? What did they actually do at the psych ward? What did the police do when they learned he was cleared? What did the school do when he returned to class? Who made the decision not to place him on the red flag list? Was any follow up conducted, ever?
Alas, we no longer live in a world where such questions are asked, or accountability for government and other favored professions is demanded. Instead, we are treated to the spectacle of President Joe Biden almost immediately heading to Buffalo for disturbing political grandstanding, issuing clarion calls to suppress speech and confiscate guns from law abiding citizens. To my knowledge, Mr. Biden hasn’t visited the site of any other mass shooting or mass casualty event since he took office, but here he sensed a macabre political opportunity, saying, “What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group.” He said this full knowing that Mr. Gendron acted completely alone, was not affiliated with any group, or had any political goal in mind except killing people. Mr. Biden then repeated the canard that the shooter was somehow “radicalized,” rather than being radical to begin with, and claimed “You can’t prevent people from being radicalized to violence, but we can address the relentless exploitation of the Internet to recruit and mobilize terrorism.”
The President proceeded to make a thinly veiled call for censorship, one he would make much louder just a few lines later. “We just need to have the courage to do that, to stand up. Look, the American experiment in democracy is in a danger like it hasn’t been in my lifetime. It’s in danger this hour. Hate and fear are being given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America but who don’t understand America.” In case there was any confusion about who he was referring to, the President actually tied this mass shooting to the riots at the capitol on January 6 as if there was any comparison to be made between a mass shooter and an out of control protest. “As President of the United States, I travel the world all the time, and other nations ask me — heads of state and other countries ask me, ‘What’s going on? What in God’s name happened on January 6th? What happened in Buffalo? What happ-…’ They ask.” “We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power and for profit. We must all enlist in this great cause of America.” In between these demands to curtail the fundamental rights of his political opponents, he managed to sneak in a desire to curtail second amendment rights as well by insisting on more gun control.
At no point, did the President acknowledge that the system failed. He made no mention that Mr. Gendron had been placed on psychiatric observation, or that New York State’s gun laws, designed to prevent such a thing from happening, did not do so. In his mind, this is a battle for the soul of the nation against Republicans and Republicans only. Sadly, Mr. Biden is not alone. The same illogical insistence was on full display among Democrats and most of the media. Rolling Stone described Mr. Gendron as a “mainstream Republican,” as if your humble author was in immediate danger of going on a shooting spree. “Somebody filled his heart so full of hate that he would destroy and devastate our community,” explained Reverend Denise Walden-Glenn, accusing others for the actions of a lone, deranged gunman. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, placed blame on the technology companies, demanding they detail the actions taken, including, “everything humanly possible” to monitor violent content. “If not, then I’m going to hold you responsible,” she threatened. Compare this reaction to the absolute silence from the very same people when an apparent black nationalist shot up a subway in New York City just last month, and you will get a sense of their true purpose here. Preventing these attacks with sensible policies is not their concern. Instead, they seek to use these attacks to advance their own political power and continue their assault on your fundamental rights.
Perhaps even worse, these are not stupid people. Surely, they are aware that New York state’s police, gun laws, and mental health system failed. It is impossible to believe that they truly believe Mr. Gendron was an ordinary, well-functioning young man who just happened upon a speech by Donald Trump and ended up going on a killing spree. They know he was mentally ill and the tragedy could’ve been averted by a more responsive mental health system and a better functioning state bureaucracy, but they smear Republicans anyway, advancing their own un-democratic goals, for purely political reasons. In this way, they are far more dangerous to the future of America than a deranged gunman.