Drag queens twerking for preschoolers are as much a symptom of a sick society as mass shootings

Two weeks on from the murder of 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas school and the response from Democrats has been true to form.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke kicked it off with a bit of political theater by confronting Republican Governor Greg Abbott at a press conference demanding stricter gun laws.

Protests were rapidly organized outside of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston. There, protesters, having confused the NRA with Planned Parenthood, blamed the gun advocacy organization for the deaths of the Uvalde children.

And Congresswomen Jackie Speier, Jan Schakowsky, Pramila Jayapal, Mikie Sherrill, and Abigail Spanberger boycotted the moment of silence on the House floor, opting instead for a selfie signifying their demand for “real action.”

Their message is clear: Guns are the problem and ordinary Americans should not own them.

Anatomy of a Massacre

A few years ago, I made my way to several of the most notorious scenes of mass murder as part of a research project. These included:

  • Promenade des Anglais (Nice, France)
    • 86 killed
    • Weapons:
      • Truck
  • Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher Kosher Supermarket (Paris, France)
    • 17 killed
    • Weapons:
      • 2 Tokarev TT33 semi-automatic pistols (illegal in France with rare exceptions)
      • 3 fully automatic Kalashnikov rifles (illegal)
      • 10 smoke grenades (illegal)
      • 10 Molotov cocktails (illegal)
      • M-42 rocket launcher (illegal)
      • 15 sticks of dynamite (illegal)
      • 1 hand grenade (illegal)
  • The Bataclan Concert Hall (Paris, France)
    • 90 killed
    • Weapons:
      • 3 Chinese Model 56 fully automatic AK-47 rifles (illegal)
      • 4 Zastava M70 fully automatic rifles (illegal)
      • Suicide bomb vests
  • 7/7 (London, UK)
    • 52 killed
    • Weapons:
      • Suicide bombers
  • Madrid Train Station (Madrid, Spain)
    • 193 killed
    • Weapon:
      • Bombs
  • Stockholm shopping district (Stockholm, Sweden)
    • 5 killed
    • Weapon:
      • Truck
  • Boko Haram attacks (Jos, Nigeria)
    • Unknown number killed
    • Weapons:
      • Bombs, guns
  • London Bridge (London, UK)
    • 8 killed
    • Weapons:
      • Van and knives
  • Westminster Bridge (London, UK)
    • 5 killed
    • Weapon:
      • Van
  • 9/11
    • 2,977 killed
    • Weapon:
      • Planes

To repeat, this is not a list of the world’s deadliest attacks. All of those, like 9/11, typically involved incendiary devices or other types of explosives. But not always. At Abadan, Iran, 422 people were killed when attackers locked the doors of the Cinema Rex and then set the theater ablaze.

In each of the above instances, I interviewed witnesses whenever possible. Setting aside the obvious fact that the perpetrators in all of these attacks were Muslims, other themes began to emerge:

  • In those attacks with the greatest loss of life, guns were not the weapon of choice.
  • Victims were completely defenseless as their laws dictated. (In Nigeria, the government, citing “human rights violations,” actually disarmed would-be victims to make them more vulnerable to attackers.)
  • As in Uvalde, police response was slow. Even at The Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris’s heavily populated 11th arrondissement, it was 35 minutes before police entered the building. By that time, they were “wading through blood.” Embarrassingly, there were eight police officers in attendance at the concert. All were unarmed.
  • Where guns were used, the attackers, knowing their victims were unarmed and police response would be slow, they took their time, reloaded casually, and moved about unhindered in search of their prey. This was also true at Uvalde.

But what about the worst massacres in history? Weren’t they carried out by gun-loving Americans?


Contrary to what the media would have you believe, the worst mass shootings in modern history—to be clear, I’m not talking about bombings—did not occur in the United States. Consider the following:

1. The Peshawar School (Pakistan)

    • 150 killed

2. Garissa University College (Kenya)

    • 148 killed

3. 2015 Paris Attacks (France)

    • 130 killed

4. Utoya Massacre (Norway)

    • 69 killed

5. Westgate Shopping Mall (Kenya)

    • 67 killed

Once again, putting aside the fact that Muslims were perpetrators in four of the five attacks—Utoya, Norway being the sole exception— some of the same themes emerge here, too:

  • Police response was slow. At Utoya, in an attack that lasted about 95 minutes, police did not arrive until the attack was approximately 80 minutes old. As at Uvalde, Charlie Hebdo, The Bataclan, and every shooting cited above, attackers could take their time.
  • Apart from Pakistan, gun ownership laws are strict in all of these countries.
  • And, most importantly, it pitted well-armed attackers against unarmed people.

Contrary to mass shootings demonstrating the need to disarm people, they demonstrate precisely the opposite. Not only were victims unarmed, police response was further inhibited by a lack of intel: How many shooters? Where are they? What’s going on now? Contrast this with the recent (and suspiciously underreported) shooting at a graduation party in Charleston, West Virginia where a known felon opened fire on the gathered. A woman exercising her Second Amendment rights shot him dead before anyone was hurt. Without her, another mass shooting would almost certainly have occurred.

The “Ban Guns” Argument

The Democrats’ argument—like their rationale for open borders, abortion, student loan cancelation, and mask mandates—relies on the hysteria of the moment rather than sound reasoning. And in the aftermath of a tragic shooting, a gun ban seems to many like the solution. There are, however, several logical problems with this argument.

Chief among them is the assumption that governments are benign, trustworthy entities. History teaches otherwise. The worst mass shootings in history were carried out by governments against unarmed citizenry in Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Spain, and Poland, to say nothing of anywhere-Africa or South America. If individuals cannot be trusted with guns, then government, a collection of individuals, are to be trusted much less since their capacity to do harm far exceeds that of individuals. It was for this reason that the Framers of our Constitution included the Second Amendment.

To this, the Biden administration has continually asserted that the Second Amendment’s primary purpose was for hunting. The Constitutional Convention occurred on the heels of a war for independence. The Framers of the Constitution knew that private gun ownership was essential for maintaining a free people. As Noah Webster observed: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”

The Framers were deeply distrustful of government, even the government they were in the process of creating. Thus, they built in “checks and balances.” We typically think of these as applying only to the three branches of government. But the Second Amendment was seen as a vital part of the checks and balances safeguard. “What country,” asked Thomas Jefferson rhetorically, “can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

Biden, however, has dismissed this, saying, “if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.” That’s not how it played out in Vietnam or Afghanistan.

No doubt some readers will say that Democrats only want to ban “assault” rifles or high-capacity magazines. That is only the thin end of the proverbial wedge. In her 2015 article in The New RepublicIt’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them,” Phoebe Maltz Bovy argues—in case the title of her column didn’t tip you off—“Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them.” This has been the Left’s goal all along. As with Bill Clinton’s claim that Democrats only wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare,” this is policy incrementalism.

The Right Question, The Right Answer

Historically, Americans have owned guns in large quantities, yet mass shootings are a relatively modern phenomenon. So, gun ownership isn’t the root cause of mass shootings. The question we should be asking is this:

Why, suddenly, do so many Americans want to kill people?

And it is suddenly. School shootings have been on the rise since the 1990s, and gun violence rose by 30 percent during the pandemic alone.


The answers are more obvious than you might think.

    • If you incite violence, you get violence

Democrats have been inciting violence for years now, be it Senator Charles Schumer’s threats against Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you …”—or criminal elements crossing our open borders, society has felt the effects. At the other end, Democrats have pushed to end cash bail while taking a catch and release approach to criminal prosecution. So, it should come as no surprise that 18 of the top 20 most dangerous cities in America are run by Democrat mayors.

Two Portland, Oregon police officers told me that they were not empowered to enforce the law. “You can’t drive a block without seeing someone defecating on the sidewalk. Theft and rioting are ignored. If you arrest someone, they are immediately released. It’s become an intolerable situation.”

Homicides are up 44 percent nationally, and there appears to be no end in sight as Democrats refuse to enforce the gun laws already on the books. These facts suggest the Biden administration isn’t as interested in stopping gun violence as they are in controlling where and against whom it is directed.

    • “Defund the Police” and you get what you’re paying for

With Democrats running an unrelenting campaign of “Defund the Police!” you really shouldn’t be shocked by the spike in gun violence. Criminals, violent or otherwise, know that the political currents are moving in their favor.

Unsurprisingly, gun sales have surged to record levels during the pandemic, indicating that Americans do not feel safe. Gone is a confidence their government can be trusted to protect them, much less to enforce the law. Democrats simply cannot be taken seriously on law enforcement, and their dramatic expressions of grief in the aftermath of Uvalde are just so many crocodile tears to manipulate a truly horrified nation.

    • Irrational lockdowns lead to irrational behavior

According to the JAMA Network Open, mass shootings—defined as four or more people shot, excluding the shooter—have soared during the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic imposed sudden and additional psychological and financial strains across society through fear of death, social isolation, economic hardship, and general uncertainty.” There has been a sharp rise in mental health disorders and suicides. Youth have not escaped this social phenomenon. On the contrary, while adolescent screen time has more than doubled during the pandemic, there has been a corresponding doubling of adolescent depression and anxiety during the same period.

    • The War on God

One might think it a good idea to affix a placard to the walls of our public institutions with such helpful suggestions as “Thou shalt not kill.” But that, of course, is against the law. That’s because Christianity, the antidote to all that ails us, has been treated like smoking: you can do it, but only in designated areas.

In addition to a war on police, which exist to enforce the law, Democrats have waged a decades-long war on America’s Judeo-Christian values, which give impetus to obey the law. For there to be law, there must be a Lawgiver. The God-haters, apoplectic at the mere suggestion that disbelief in God leads to human degradation, haven’t a leg to stand on. In the mass murders cited above, Islam appears to be a worse offender than any other religion or philosophy.

Let me here set the record straight: It isn’t.

The greatest mass murderers of all-time were atheists. In his book The Devil’s Delusion, David Berlinski makes the point brilliantly:

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

To this list we may add Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos. The heart of the issue is the human heart, and America’s—indeed, the entire Western world’s—is diseased. Drag queens twerking for preschoolers are as much a symptom of a sick society as mass shootings. The Left wants to address one and not the other, but they are connected. Mass shootings have occurred in a general atmosphere of moral degeneracy, from the perverse LGBTQ+ agenda to infanticide, moral absolutes are no longer assumed to exist.

T.S. Eliot said, “If Christianity goes, the whole culture goes.” As Judeo-Christian values have collapsed under the acids of cynicism, we are witnessing the whole culture collapse with them. Replacing them has been an aggressive secularism that can give no values rooted in absolute law, just the arbitrary rules of the reigning elites, and those have no more validity than the rules regulating a colony of ants. The point isn’t that belief in Jesus Christ makes us good. It just makes us a little less evil than we might otherwise be.[1]

In my considerable experience listening to and engaging high school and college age youth, they immediately see through the hypocrisy of a society that, on the one hand, tells them they are the products of “random chance and necessity,” and, on the other, that they should care for such things as the environment, justice, and their fellow man. The more thoughtful among them may well conclude life has no meaning in that universe beyond that which they might artificially create for themselves. They might conclude that they should do whatever they want to do because there is no God to judge them in the next life for their actions in this one.

I know. As a boy, I teetered on just such a precipice, and I was prepared to follow the implications of God’s existence or non-existence to their logical conclusions. Islamist terrorists do precisely that. Believing their god will reward them in the hereafter if they die a martyr’s death fighting the infidel, they take the only logical path that belief system offers. But the secularist is as dangerous as the Islamist. More so, because he is either a utopian or a nihilist, and both have left nothing but body bags in their wake.


 All of the above contributors to mass shootings may be attributed to government policy. To put it more bluntly, government is the primary contributor to mass shootings, and it is, by far, the most irresponsible gun owner.

At bottom, the Biden administration would have us believe that they, and they alone, may be trusted with the key to the gun safe. This is the same administration that left $85+ billion in state-of-the-art military hardware in Afghanistan and is, at this moment, arming a deeply corrupt Ukraine. Has there ever been a more irresponsible American government on the question at hand? Worse, we may reasonably expect that many of these weapons will make their way to the same weapons’ markets where the perpetrators of the Paris attacks obtained weapons for the slaughter of innocents.

In an address announcing new executive action on guns, Biden, mistaking gun manufacturers with Big Pharma, said: “Most people don’t realize, the only industry in America, billion-dollar industry, that can’t be sued, exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers.”

Beside the fact that he was wrong, Biden’s remarks raise an important question about responsibility: If gun manufacturers, as he suggested, bear a measure of culpability for these mass shootings, what responsibility does the Obama administration bear for the massacre in Mexico where the weapons used came courtesy of the idiotic operation “Fast and Furious”? What responsibility does the Biden administration bear for the misuse of weapons they have provided in Ukraine, which is reported to be widespread, or in Afghanistan, where U.S. allies have been rounded up and executed?

*     *     *     *     *

I presently write from Colombia, a country plagued by mass shootings and violence in general, and, yet, it is almost impossible for private citizens to lawfully own a gun. Predictably, the law’s “special authorizations” clause has historically applied only to government officials and, as one Colombian said to me, “the connected.” Given the fact that most gun violence is committed against civilians, such laws seem rather self-serving. As with gun law throughout most of the world, it’s really a two-tier system.

Illustrating this point—no, personifying it—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a podcast this week:

“You can’t use a gun for self-protection in Canada. That’s not a right that you have in the Constitution or anywhere else. If you try and buy a gun and say it’s for self-protection, no, you don’t get that.”

Trudeau, without any hint of irony, spoke these words while flanked by his armed bodyguards. The implicit message: your life isn’t worth defending, but mine is.

Until the motivation to kill others is eradicated from human nature, people have the inherent right to defend themselves, and to do it, if necessary, with lethal force. Any law to the contrary is an immoral law.

We have been asking the wrong question.

[1] For those interested, I debated my friend Christopher Hitchens on this topic extensively. Hitchens, who died of esophageal cancer in 2011, was an ardent atheist. He loved to employ an argument called “The Hitchens Challenge.” The Challenge is a sham. You can watch the above debate or read my book about our relationship.
Larry Alex Taunton is an author, cultural commentator, and freelance columnist contributing to USA TODAYFox NewsFirst ThingsThe AtlanticCNN, and The American Spectator.  In addition to being a frequent radio and television guest, he is also the author of The Grace  Effect and The Gospel Coalition Arts and Culture Book of the Year, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. You can subscribe to his blog at larryalextaunton.com.

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