Christmas lights and wreaths dot our streets as we numb ourselves with old hopes – all should be well again, soon.
We convince ourselves, as so many times before, there is good in the world. We comfort ourselves this way to push away the invasive emptiness, as if by ignoring a tumor is to cull it. We pretend to be whole and carry on within the safer, practiced confines of denial.
Today is one week after Newtown.
It is terrifying to stare down true horror. To not be stricken paralyzed. It’s easier and far tidier to downplay it, often from a comfortable distance – rather than embrace it. Our M.O. is to always take the easier, well-worn path of letting the violence wash over us as another random, unfortunate occurrence – a path we’ve become far too used to walking.
We fail time and again to embrace these terrors of our own making; we empower them through the usual misguided apathy – the well wishes and prayers, as if pithy gestures equaled action. And so we continue to be victimized.
So we can expect more death, more terror, more rationalizations, and more moral relativism – more useless prayers. What kind of horror will finally drag us into overcoming our cowardice? Will it be a preschool next time, a hospital’s newborn ward? Or was the slaughter of 27 people, 20 children, enough to finally jolt us awake?
And like clockwork come the same tired, sallow arguments from a hundred times before – guns don’t kill people; people kill people. It never occurs to anyone making this argument that people with guns kill more people more often. “Well, cars can kill people, should we take them away?” Yes, from anyone making this argument. A car is not an instrument designed for death, much like an axe is not designed to hew limbs from people instead of trees. You can swing a cat and kill someone with it if properly wielded. People say if someone is going to kill, they’ll find a way. Perhaps – but it’s much more effective to use a gun than say, pruning shears. Oddly enough, I don’t hear about many mass knifings or random softball bat bludgeoning of large crowds resulting in massive death tolls.
A gun’s primal, designer purpose is to harm another living creature. A gun is a perfected killing machine. It doesn’t work well as a hammer or spatula.
Many claim a gun is a deterrent. But I tend to believe a gun escalates tension rather than removes it. In our culture, guns have their own mythos being symbolic of self-determination, manliness – the great fake embodiment of tough. They are a monument to the delusion of protection and false safety. To have a gun is not simply to own a killing thing, but to be part of some great fraternity of people obsessed with paranoia. “What’s mine is mine, and I will protect it.” But against what – rowdy neighbors? That constant, imagined mortal threat to your underground bunker? Against the next person who cuts you off on the highway, which certainly requires the use of deadly force? Or is it the phantom sheep rapist, nefariously cruising the outskirts of your farm? What about hunting? Using an AR-15 to hunt elk simply means you’re a shitty hunter harboring an angry little Napoleon complex.
Or we can talk about the reality of guns. Explain to me why a 3-year-old in Oklahoma is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Explain to me why a roommate’s argument over the proper cooking of pork chops led to his being shot to death. Explain to me why a man owning 47 guns is threatening a school shooting in Indiana. Explain why all of these happened in just the last two weeks.
Explain to me why an unstable twenty-something had access to his mother’s small arsenal in Newtown. Maybe if she was armed, she could’ve stopped him – with her own guns that he used…right? After all, they say, if everyone were armed, we’d all be safe, right?
The National Rifle Association today said every school needs an armed police officer reasoning a good guy with a gun is the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun. They said because they believe their opinion is necessary, and more than that tantamount – they’re the self-proclaimed experts. Their spokesman went on to blame the media for giving killers “the identity they crave” and fame, and blamed video game and movie violence’s supposed affects on kids.
Not once did he blame the proliferation of gun culture – a culture which the NRA perpetuates and thrives upon- a culture using fear for its lifeblood. Instead, they said we need a national database of the mentally ill. He did not mention the need for a national database of who owns guns.
Nor did he mention how these violent movies and video games are shown in other nations, yet there are no rampant, daily news feeds of killings via gun. Earlier this morning, 3 people were randomly shot by a gunman in Pennsylvania, and 3 police officers were hurt before the gunman was killed. I haven’t seen reports today out of Canada, Australia, Germany, or the United Kingdom detailing any shootings. But here, the NRA would have you believe our recent round of shootings somehow have no correlation with guns, but instead a lack of moral standards. Morals as qualified by people whose organization’s sole purpose is to advocate guns as solutions.
Paranoia breeds fear which feeds uncertainty – a witches’ brew for an itchy trigger finger. When everyone is out to get you, you arm yourself. It’s also the manly thing to do – it’s the rite of passage. When you arm yourself, that neighbor you don’t like had better watch out – and you just know he might be armed. This is the logic people use to justify their personal arms race. Some use the euphemism of calling themselves “Collectors,” as if their home is really just a mini-museum paying homage to violence. And we think of this as acceptable. If someone had a raging collection of machetes, we’d think they were deranged.
People cite the 2nd Amendment as their crutch, pleading a need to stay armed against a potentially tyrannical government (as if it was 1795, musket vs. musket). As much as your Bushmaster, .50 Caliber Desert Eagle and your Sig Sauer are well oiled, locked and loaded, somehow I don’t think they’d stand up to an A-10 Warthog, an F-15 Strike Eagle or an F/A-18 Super Hornet. They’d have a bit of trouble with an M1 Abrams Tank, or a nuclear submarine for that matter. Anticipating this argument, gun owners pirouette to the belief of a stronger likelihood of being wrongfully attacked by local authorities – police, sheriffs, etc. Police who they believe they could go toe-to-toe with in having similar armament. This sentiment coming from the same inquiring minds who cry “States Rights!”, yet it’s the local authorities who will be coming for them.
Any way you slice it, the arguments for guns are simpleton, brow-beating bullshit projected onto us by people with inferiority complexes. We’re left trying to reason with small-minded bullies with low self-esteem who find strength in menacing others because they own a gun.
So why do we continue to put up with this nonsense which is so obviously, completely wrong? It doesn’t take a gun to stand up to a bully. All it takes is the will to do what’s right. Sure, we’ve complained, cajoled, and made worthless half-attempts based on the occasional momentum. We’ve reacted too often, and we wait and wait and wait and make more poor excuses to justify our inaction.
We allow the assault weapons ban to expire, and we fall back. More mass killings occur, to the point where body counts are measured to keep score – and we fall back. Children bring guns to school, and we fall back. Armed men kill innocent people, and we blame a lack of morals rather than admit the problem is the easy access people have to weapons. And we fall back.
Where are our values? At the mere talk of a weapons ban, gun sales have soared this Christmas Season. What does that say about us? It says we keep falling back.
No more. Don’t let them hold us at gunpoint any more. Stand up and tell them, we will not allow this again. Tell the lobbyists, the lawmakers, the low IQ gun nuts that it’s over.
The best way to not forget Newtown is to never let it happen again. To start keeping track of all gun sales and re-sales, to register all guns and destroy those guns without serial numbers, to perform full background checks for each and every gun purchase and to keep a real-time database of gun owners. To ban assault weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing people. We must do this – or the blood will be on all of us.