There was another mass shooting today, a nut with a gun at an immigration office in New York, with at least a dozen killed. Here’s what I want to know: why do these things so often happen in April?
The last time I talked about a mass shooting was the Virginia Tech bloodbath. That was April 16, 2007.
Columbine High School (which I also briefly wrote about)? April 20, 1999. (I don’t count everything that happened in April: domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh timed his Oklahoma City bombing for April 19, 1995, to commemorate another mass death, the siege in Waco, Texas, two years earlier.)
In April 2007, the Columbus Dispatch theorized, “Some experts say that April is a time of change that can trigger a disturbed mind to act out. The sudden increase in light this time of year can drive people with certain mental illnesses to manic behavior, some said.
“‘People in depressed affect, when they are at the bottom of their mood, they can’t function well enough to do anything, even plan a suicide,’ said Randy Nelson, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Ohio State University.
“Spring, like medication, can bring them out of the winter’s depression.
“‘They’ve had bad thoughts for a long time and being affected by the seasonal change could make them do something,’ he said.”
OK, then what about the Virginia Tech shootings that spawned their article in the first place?
“For college students,” they continued, “final exams and deadlines can push stress levels to dangerous levels in April. For those in high school, the approaching end of the school year can be the catalyst for a student to act on festering emotions.”
I don’t buy it.
So what do I think the factor is? The Internal Revenue Service.
That’s right, tax returns, which in the U.S. are due April 15 (or the Monday after, if the 15th hits on a weekend).
I’m a word guy — I can blast out an essay like this in about half an hour (which is, in fact, about how long it took me to write this). But taxes? Hey, I’m even decent at numbers: I can estimate easily. What’s 20% off on a $15 item? Well, 10% is $1.50 — just move the decimal point over. Double that is $3, so the discounted price is $12. Easy.
But when I get my tax return from my preparer, I can’t follow it for the life of me. It’s not the numbers, it’s the loopholes and gyrations and special circumstances and special credits for blue-eyed first-time homebuyers that drive hybrid cars.
It’s enough to make anyone crazy. And start shooting.
And then add in financial turnarounds like worthless 401(k)’s, job losses, crazy-inducing immigration laws, failing automakers and newspapers and other industries? Mayhem!
I’m amazed there aren’t more nutballs grabbing guns and blowing off their anger. Seriously. That it’s not happening more actually says something good.
The Dispatch article quotes Chuck Archer, the former president of the Ohio School Psychologists Association. He says “The more we know [about such shootings], the more armed we are against preventing this from happening again.” Which just goes to show how pervasive the American gun culture is: his choice of the word “armed” says it all.
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