Logic of Violence with Billy Johnson

By Donna Hornsby published on in Industry News, NRA, People

The newest contributor to NRA News, Billy argues that our political leaders focus on the tools of violence rather than the logic of violence, and this inevitably leads to bad policy.

Video Transcript

NRA Commentator Billy JohnsonAccording to FBI statistics there are a total of 3,297 violent crimes committed in the US every day, that’s approximately 2.3 violent crimes every minute.

Since the Newton tragedy there have been a lot of different people talking about guns, violence, and gun related violence. What strikes me about these conversations is many people are proposing solutions, but very few are talking about the causes of violence. How can we even begin to propose and assess potential solutions to a problem that we’ve neither defined nor do we fully understand?

Let me give you an example: When the FBI is called in to help solve a crime they typically bring in a profiler, someone who can help them get into the mind of the criminal. A profiler works under the basic assumption that there is a logic to violence and that if they can find that logic, they can predict, prevent, and solve violent crime. And yet, when we start talking about potential policies to curb violent activity, we skip this vital step.

In order to identify the logic behind violence, a profiler has to set aside judgments of right and wrong and ask what drives people to violence. What are the conditions in which violence makes sense?

Violence is inherently primal and therefore follows an evolutionary logic.

Let me break that down a bit.

One of the primary reasons people engage in violence is because they
perceive it will elevate (or simply maintain) their status in their social system.

We see this all the time. Violence is rife in gang-dominated cultures. Violence is the way that people in that system prove that they are a leader or a loyal follower. It is also the way that different gangs within the system vie for power and access to resources. In these examples, violence is a type of currency. Whomever has or displays the most, wins.

You might be thinking this is unique to gang culture, it’s not. The same is true in mainstream culture. If someone has regularly been kept on the outside of the system– maybe they are a social outcast, or they just don’t fit in. And then, we reward violence, especially national tragedies like Newtown or Columbine, with infamy and immediate celebrity, it follows that violence might be an attractive choice. It follows a logic, it will elevate their status within their social system. It’s important to note here, that this isn’t about actual threats to one’s survival it’s about the perception of threat, real or faint. If someone perceives a threat to their livelihood, they can often justify and will often choose violence.

The quest for survival, or even security, is one of the key drivers of state-sponsored violence, something I will discuss in more detail in a later video. But it also happens on a micro level.

When someone has an addiction to, say drugs, a threat to their access to that drug may very well seem like a threat to their survival. If violence can rectify that, it might make sense. It’s a logical choice if it assures their survival.

Survival isn’t only, or perhaps even primarily, physical. People commit violence to protect their financial status, their political status, and various other aspects of their livelihood. A perceived threat to any of those things can instigate a violent reaction.

I am not saying that violence is justified in any of these situations, nor am I saying it is not. That isn’t the point. The point is that there is a logic to violence. It follows identifiable and predictable patterns. The FBI calls this profiling, law enforcement calls this a motive, I call it the logic of violence. And yet, none of our policymakers seem to be talking about it at all.

If most violent crimes follow a logic, identifying that logic gives us access to the tools necessary to begin to curb violence. We can make policies to mitigate logical violence if we understand the logic. But instead of using this knowledge as a tool, we are constantly being asked to focus instead on a tool, a gun, that is sometimes used to commit violence. And that, is the most illogical thing of all.

According to the stats I began this video with, 10.3 violent crimes have been committed while you were watching. There is a good chance that none of those crimes involved a gun.

There is an equally good chance that all of those crimes followed a logic.

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  • Luis


    To all of those who posted that the mentally ill do not follow logic, I beg to differ. They follow their own twisted logic (which is why they are mentally ill). To them their actions are completely logical and rational, even if they are illogical (but not necessarily unpredictable) for the rest of us. The guy who attacked the workers at the Navy Yard was doing something logical (for him): he was attacking is (supposed) tormentors. Yet he could have been prevented from doing his awful deed if he had been forced to accept psychiatric care. One final comment: notice how there was not much publicity or outcry about the gun he used? Maybe because it was a shotgun (recommended by Joe Biden!) and not an “assault weapon”


  • RPK


    Evil is every where. Evil men (and women) perpetrate violence on an unsuspecting population for personal gain, thrills or some other unlawful reason. THAT is what evil does. It seeks to place its will on you and me as law abiding citizens. I submit that guns do not kill people. Stupid, mentally defective, violent people or those who abuse the public trust and are permitted by law to use a gun in the commission of their duties gun kill other people in the name of justice.


  • Corey


    this is a good article, except this idea repeated a couple times:

    “the logic of violence. And yet, none of our policymakers seem to be talking about it at all.”

    everyone of us needs to quit thinking “they” are trying to solve problems or make anyone safe, they are absolutely not attempting that at all, they are trying amass total control of the entire population.

    you must know their true goal if you are to handle them properly; trying to argue logic with oppressors is begging for a crumb of food from the violent thief who just beat you severely and stole your food. don’t allow yourself to be in that position, don’t “argue”, “debate”, “talk”, with someone who is bashing your skull in with a pipe.

    here’s some violence logic for you: respond to lethal threats with lethal force, always, period. would a bear in the woods do any less? are you of less value than an animal?


  • ShanLi


    The logic of violence and the logic of “gun control” have different goals. The logic of violence is mentioned in the article. The logic of “gun control” would have to be defined in terms of removing anything that could be a weapon from the hands of everyone (except military and some police) in order to control the people. They are not related. Don’t let them dictate the terms of the argument.


Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

8 + = twelve