Unnatural Born Killers: Slaughter of American innocence

What is really at the root of madness of regular gun violence in the United States?

Demonstrators lay on the ground at a rally for gun control outside the White House in Washington, DC, February 19, 2018 [Reuters]
Demonstrators lay on the ground at a rally for gun control outside the White House in Washington, DC, February 19, 2018 [Reuters]

In Oliver Stone’s frightful classic, Natural Born Killers (1994), we watch in horror the story of two merciless murderers, Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson Knox, themselves victims of abusive childhoods, becoming media celebrities as they go on a rampage, slaughtering people in an orgy of senseless, vicious, and remorseless violence. Numerous mass murders in the United States, including Heath High School shooting (1997) and Columbine High School massacre (1999), have been called “copycat” repeats of the story of this film. The family of a victim of one such mass murder incident even took Oliver Stone to court, claiming that his film prompted a violent crime spree

Soon after the most recent mass murder in yet another high school, this time in Florida in February 2018, we learned a Christian radio host, Bryan Fischer, had publicly declared that “God allows school shootings like the one that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, because there is not enough prayer in public schools.” Mr Fischer believes: “I suggest we have mass school shootings because we don’t have enough God on our campuses.” 

Both a vindictive God who slaughters innocent children because they did not pray in their high schools, and a horrifically violent movie like Natural Bork Killers, are symptoms of a much more systemic social malaise that needs recognition. What is the root cause of a theology that imagines a brutish mass murderer as a Divinity presiding over our earthly existence? What sort of sick society comes up with a movie like “Natural Born Killers”? 

Letting a trained killer loose

Let us look closer at the most recent example of one young gunman going on a rampage at a high school in Florida on Valentine’s Day, slaughtering mostly teenage students. 

It turns out the mass murderer in Florida high school was not a “natural born killer” but, in fact, a methodically trained killer – trained by the US army, through their Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program in high schools, funded in part by grants from the National Rifle Association Foundation (NRA).


PBS reports: “Nikolas Cruz, 19, was wearing a maroon shirt with the logo from the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he was arrested Wednesday shortly after the shooting. Former JROTC cadets told The Associated Press that Cruz was a member of the small varsity marksmanship team that trained together after class and traveled to other area schools to compete.”

In other words, Nikolas Cruz was being trained to go kill people in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. But the young man was just too impatient and began slaughtering people in his own neighbourhood.

Written habitually in a sedate and impartial prose, the PBS report covers a frightful fact: American high schools are all potential killing fields, where young children are trained as killers by the US army and funded in part by NRA. These are not divinely ordained, copycat acts reenacting any movie. This is the systematic militarisation of schools and colleges in the US. 

What sick society would do anything like that? What insanity should overcome a people to turn a place of safety, sanity, and education into a training ground for killers? Neither Donald Trump nor Barack Obama, as two warmongers of two different stripes, fell from the sky. Those corrupt US congresspersons on the payroll of NRA did not grow like mushrooms out of nowhere. Something is deeply rotten in the state of Denmark. A vindictive God and a virulently violent movie are symptoms of this disease, not its cause. Righting this terrifying wrong requires no liberation theology. It requires demilitarising the US youth culture.

Enemies of the people

As an institution committed to assuring the ready availability of weapons of mass murder in the market, NRA is deeply rooted in American polity. In an opinion piece published soon after yet another mass school shooting, the New York Times publicised the names of top US “lawmakers” actively on the payroll of the NRA. Senator John McCain of Arizona has received more than $7m, Senator Richard Burr close to $7m, Senators Roy Blunt and Thom Tillis each almost $5m apiece. The list goes on.

These lawmakers are paid handsomely to make sure no gun control legislation is passed in the US Congress that might lead to reducing the risks of such mass murders. What sane society will ever harbour such wanton disregard for human decency? This is no divine dispensation. This is human corruption. When and how did this happen? When and upon what degenerative mutation in human decency did an institution, constitutionally committed to protecting the lives of its citizens, became integral to a killing machine? 

To understand the root of madness of regular gun violence in the US, we need not look at Florida. We need to look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Yemen, and anywhere else where American bombs are being dropped on innocent children of a slightly different colour than those in Florida.

These “lawmakers” are public enemies at large – cold-hearted power mongers disguised as lawmakers who do not care about the safety of Americans. They have aided and abetted in the mass murder of more innocent Americans than any other single, terrorist outfit on planet earth. 

To address this malady, we need no divine revelation. We need very simple actions: Dismantle NRA, ban the sale of firearms, radically change the gun culture in the US, stop the systemic militarisation of American culture, stop recruiting children and teenagers into the US army. 

As you sow, so shall you reap 

There is another, even more deep-rooted aspect to these epidemic mass murders in the US. It is in the global warmongering of the US that has its domestic consequences, too. This is what Malcom X meant when he said “Chicken coming home to roost” when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

To understand the root of madness of regular gun violence in the US, we need not look at Florida. We need to look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Yemen, and anywhere else where American bombs are being dropped on innocent children of a slightly different colour than those in Florida. 

Look at any chart of global arms trade and you will see, in all of them, that the US is the number one trader of weapons around the planet. Read closely an even more detailed account of how these global traders of death and destruction are flooding the planet with weapons of massacre.  

Notice, also, the tiny little Israeli settler colony among the top merchants of death, right between the UK and Italy. Look how, as Al Jazeera has reported, Israel has held a “long and covert history of supplying weapons and military training to regimes while they actively commit massacres, ethnic cleansing and genocide”.

The ridiculous liberal Zionists at Haaretz are busy explaining to the world “Why School Shootings Don’t Happen in Israel: Why is it that in Israel – a country surrounded by weapons of war – we don’t see the same gun violence as that which cost the lives of students …” Like those proverbial ostriches they have shoved their heads into their delusional sands and pretend they don’t know how utterly obscene they look to the world. Israel is not “surrounded by weapons of war”. Israel is the single most deadly military base on planet earth. There is no mass shooting in any Israeli schools because Israelis are too busy getting trained to go slaughter Palestinian children in their schools, mosques, hospitals, and football fields in occupied Palestine

There is a structural link between gun violence inside the US and US/Israel warmongering around the globe – these children who were just gunned down in Florida are identical in their defenseless innocence to Iraqi children at the receiving end of George W. Bush’s invasion of their country, to Yemenis at the mercy of the US-supplied Saudi army, to Palestinians at the mercy of the Israeli military, to Rohingya Muslims being murdered by the Myanmar army supplied by Israel.

There is nothing wrong with people praying to their God for mercy on this earth. But the answer to these obscene massacres in US schools and colleges is not more prayers at schools – for these mass murderers have targeted innocent churchgoers reading Bible in a church, too.

The answer is much simpler: Stop manufacturing and selling arms in the US and around the globe, change the military logic of global and regional domination, reduce the rhetoric and stop arming nefarious regimes like those of Saudi Arabia and Israel, work towards a global nuclear disarmament, do not elect insane thugs like Trump or stealth warmongers like Obama as your presidents, ban the sale of any and all forms of guns … Put Neanderthal Republican NRA stooges in a heavily guarded iron cage and inside a zoo for people to watch from a safe distance. 

Rethinking the Second Amendment 

At least 17 precious young lives have just perished in Florida. Thousands more in Palestine, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Myanmar, in Afghanistan, in Libya, and, on a daily and routine basis, in African American and Latinx communities in the US, scarcely making the headlines any more.

African American and Latinx children are at the receiving end of the more regular and routine police violence, that feeds on the same wanton, racist militarism that erupts in mass school shootings in other communities. Unless and until racism and militarism are seen as integral to each other, as Martin Luther King distinctly realised, this nation will be divided and ruled by racist militarists in power – as it has always been. Tears of a mourning parent have no colour.

To see this link, we must remember the very origin of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which is so cherished by the gun lobby and their bought-and-paid-for US senators and congresspersons. 

This amendment, historians tell us, was originally ratified to preserve slavery. “The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified . . .” we now know, “was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote … In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state.”


Slavery may have ended in the US, but the attitude of the former slave owners towards their guns has not. They have a “sentimental” attachment to those guns. It reminds them of their glorious days when “America was great again.”

These days, those very guns are trigger-happy among some police officers anytime they see a black American in sight, or else they form militias hunting for “Mexicans” on the border, where their president wants to build a wall so they could use it for target practice.

The link between those militias of the yore and these gun lobby enthusiasts, between racism at home and militarism abroad, is yet another grisly chapter in the long and lasting history of racism in the US code-named “KKK”.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 

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