It can’t be video games. Or else in Mario’s heyday, I missed the epidemic of people eating wild mushrooms in attempts to double in size.
It can’t be mental illness. You call people who ignore facts and are losing touch with reality in a dogmatic and unshakeable insistence on what they believe to the exclusion of anything else Republicans, not mass shooters.
It can’t be racist rhetoric. This isn’t the most racist time. There was a lot of race-related violence in the past, but no single person volleyed dozens of bullets a second at crowds in the 19th century.
It can’t be social media. Otherwise, shooters would mostly be middle school girls and that movie Eighth Grade would have had a really, really different ending.
It can’t be Sesame Street. I specifically remember an episode where they said, “Emptying high capacity magazines at your friends makes Elmo really sad.”
It can’t be breast milk. I’ve seen nursing children. I’m reasonably sure mass murder is a low priority when they’re nestled at mom’s bosom.
It can’t be people who deny climate change when it’s cold outside. Though they induce plenty of rage, they also make you stop and think, “Do I need to buy new mittens?”
It can’t be watching people kneel for the national anthem. We suffer that indignity every season and can only punish our most elite athletes with gobs of money, adoration, and traumatic brain injuries.
It can’t be Cthulu. As long as we keep feeding him fresh maidens, he promised not to interfere with our world, no matter how much he wants to drown us in the sick beats of hot whale pop.
It can’t be unfiltered water. I considered microbial tap toxins were the hidden catalyst of mass murder, but I had a friend in college who drank out of the kitchen faucet, and he’s not killed anyone.
It can’t be potholes. The last time my car went cathunk! on the road, the only forgotten vow I made was to attempt to call one of those mythical creatures that probably doesn’t exist: a congressman.
It can’t be the rise of bubble tea. Chewing and drinking at the same time is confusing, but confusion doesn’t incite action. It makes us want to sit down and order sushi. And if we endured sushi without an uptick in violence, we can learn to enjoy boba too.
It can’t be UX developers. These guys wear old shirts, hide in the corners of your office, and have found a calming peace in their sexless lives. They can’t hurt us, and we shouldn’t hurt them.
It can’t be the Meteoastral Rays of the fourth moon of Zeptar. Although we lost the Battle of Lol against King Waymond, our premature deaths interfere with his need to harvest therber energy.
It can’t be people who wear white pants. Forgive them. They don’t know any better.
It can’t be germ theory. Scientific breakthroughs in magnification have revealed that pathogens cause sickness and that, in fact, has nothing to do with any of this.
It can’t be immigrants. They’re too busy stealing jobs and taking advantage of our perfect healthcare and our free, flawless education to think about murder.
It can’t be gluten. The one thing we’re all okay with being intolerant of is gluten, and somehow mass casualty incidents continue to be on the rise.
It can’t be your girlfriend’s annoying brother. He keeps buying new pets and forgetting to feed them, but how many people is he really influencing from his windowless basement?
No, I’ve thought about this for a while now, and I know I’ve cracked it. I’m gonna say something no one has ever said before. It’s been right under our noses the whole time. The culprit, the reason we have such a problem with gun violence in America…
And I can angrily shout that in America as a foreign-born Muslim man. If I was a young white dude, I’d have to be more careful of what I say.