I was very saddened by the shootings in Connecticut, but not at all surprised. When people ask how this happened, it can only mean they are not paying attention to what our culture has become. I am not one who blames all our problems on guns. I hate handguns, but I understand that there are good people who feel safer with them. For the life of me, I cannot understand why assault rifles are necessary, but I want to focus on something else.

Even setting aside the question of gun control, there is a pattern in our culture that is hard to miss. We human beings are animals. We respond to our conditioning. How can human beings live surrounded by constant violent stimuli in news and entertainment and not become either violent or numb? When certain weapons are introduced into this culture the equations change. In this violent culture a handgun can remove the one moment an angry or hurting person may need to return to sanity. An assault rifle can turn a homicide and turn it into a massacre.

Weapons to hunt or defend one’s home are one thing, we can disagree about those. But when gun sellers play off our basest emotions, and then hide behind ordinary gun owners I do not understand why gun owners respond so automatically and mindlessly to protect all weapons equally.

Mother Jones has collected 20 ads for guns that you will have to read sitting down.