Killing With Guns, or Any Other Necessary and Permissible Means
Since we’ve collectively agreed that guns are a necessary part of American life, we’re beginning to collectively accept that a certain number of us, the unfortunate ones, child scholars, must die. It’s the price we pay for the privilege of owning firearms and the bullets they propel.
Whether or not you think semi-regular campus/church/Cineplex/school-shootings are a small (or large) price is a personal matter that largely depends on your willingness to kill others.
A minority of people, some of whom take the Ten Commandments seriously, some of whom don’t, genuinely believe Thou Shall Not Kill means what it says, quite literally, without expedient exceptions, such as when someone has something you want, like oil or gold or potable water. Unfortunately, the majority of people, some of whom claim to take the Ten Commandments seriously, many of whom don’t, believe that murder is unequivocally wrong unless a convenient equivocation – there are dozens — may be invoked. In this way the exceptions become the rule: Thou Shall Kill, Under the Following Permissible Circumstances.
Deep down, the majority of people believe that, really, it’s OK to kill, if you’ve got a good enough reason. That’s our guiding philosophy.
Why do we think this way? Look around. Killing is entertainment. Killing is part of the game. Killing is food. Killing is what we do to our environment. Killing is a regrettable but necessary part of life. Especially when it’s carried out by the State.
And what’s the biggest, most powerful killing organization in the history of civilization? No, not the NRA. The United States Military.
Yet hardly anything in our popular culture or popular ideology criticizes the military-industrial killing industry. On the contrary, soldiers, also known as corporate cannon fodder, are now considered “heroes” for whom we should rise and remove our caps. We’ve convinced ourselves that somehow this gesture will properly honor the brave men and women who keep us safe and free. Their courage and selflessness allows us to courageously obsess about our bodies, status and power, and we show our appreciation and encouragement in myriad ways. The uniformed killers who murder strangers for us – for reasons almost no one can explain or comprehend – receive parades (if they make it back alive) and video tributes (if they don’t), posted on Websites and Facebook walls, whose owners, nice people by and large, broadcast to the world their approval and enthusiasm for killing and the inspiring mercenaries who do it on our behalf. Now murder is cause for celebration, not shame.
When the majority of us find killing deplorable – and not just when school children are gunned down by an autistic young white male domestic terrorist – that’s when the mass shootings will end. Until then, there will be more, as predictable and regular as deaths by automobile.
If what we want to do is end gun violence, we must keep asking ourselves why we believe what we believe. (The answers, one finds, are often humorous.) When we collectively realize our belief system is built on assumptions and imperatives so flimsy and paradoxical that they crumble upon even the most cursory examination, that’s when minds will change and behavior will follow. That’s when we’ll recoil in horror when someone is killed, even if she’s Muslim, or a capital felon.
Guns are not a necessary part of life in a nation where killing is considered truly sinful.