Every time there’s another mass or campus shooting people always want to know why the killer did it. What was the motive? What could lead to such evil? More often than not, those with political axes to grind want to shoehorn the killer’s motive into their own political agenda.

After an Islamist extremist went on a murderous rampage at Fort Hood, the Right used it for weeks as a club against Islam itself–just as they did with the DC sniper years earlier. After a angry misogynist opened fire in Santa Barbara, the shooting immediately became a touchstone for women’s groups to discuss sexual entitlement. When a conspiracy theorist couple killed a police officer recently in Nevada, the left had a field day over their recent stay at the Bundy Ranch, while many on the right attempted to call the shooters leftists.

Yesterday brought news of yet another new motive–this time in a school shooting in Oregon earlier this week:

The 15-year-old freshman who opened fire on his Oregon high school Tuesday wanted to kill “sinners,” the teen wrote in his diary.

Jared Padgett, an active member of an Gresham, Ore., Mormon church, shot and killed a student and injured a teacher during the attack on Reynolds High School before turning the gun on himself, police said.

It would be easy to turn this into an attack on conservative values. Certainly, it makes a mockery of claims by some on the far right that mass shooters aren’t conservatives–this kid certainly was.

But as I have noted before, the common denominator is always the gun. The Oregon shooter was even more obsessed with firearms than with religion. There will always be crazy, unbalanced people in this world with strange obsessions. The difference between the ones in other countries and the ones in America is simply the gun. We all play the same video games, we watch the same movies, we have the same neurology, we suffer from the same pathologies, and we worship (or don’t) similar gods.

Without a mass killing device, a pathetic misogynist is just a pathetic misogynist. Without a mass killing device, an angry theocrat is just an angry theocrat, be it Christian or Muslim. Without a mass killing device, paranoid conspiracy theorists and trenchcoat-wearning kids are just disaffected outsiders.

It’s not the motive. It’s never about the motive. It’s always about the gun.

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Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.