Why We Can’t Stop Shooting
Since democracy is the best system ever to honor the concept of “innocent before proven guilty,” nearly 300,000 Californians voted for Leland Yee to be our next Secretary of State. His tally came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that Yee had officially dropped out of the race after being indicted on federal bribery and gun-running charges.
NRA members, who sensed a brother in harm’s way, may have come to the ballot box in defense of their comrade-in-arms. Or maybe disaffected voters figured that Yee’s recusal made him a kind of rebel, and we all know how sexy that can be. Either way, affecting substantive policy changes at the ballot box is looking about as likely as Team USA winning the 2014 World Cup. Meanwhile, the young bodies keep piling up, like so many carcasses ready for processing.
Imagine being the parent or sibling or friend – or the person herself – of someone massacred in yet another shooting. Maybe you are one of these unlucky people. Perhaps you will be one day. Your precious [insert name and relationship here] gunned down by an angry white guy who couldn’t get a blowjob. Since the “never again” incident in Newton, Connecticut (December, 2012) a gun has been discharged in a school with children inside 62 times. The latest was a high school in Oregon. The next one might be in your granddaughter’s class.
This space previously predicted with depressing certainty that gun violence at schools and other public spaces would continue, that We The People would render ourselves helpless in the face of an utterly insurmountable problem. Today, we’re doubling down on our bet: it’s going to get much worse. Lost in the high-profile movie theater and Wal-Mart slayings are the more than 2,000 teenagers who kill themselves every year with guns at home. In other words, young people – and older ones, too – are absorbing bullets at an alarming rate: eighty-six (86) people a day die from gunshots. In a civilized society, this is considered the appropriate cost in lives so that the rest of us can live on peacefully, with our guns at our side.
None of the following correlate to anything, of course…
+ Comic geniuses Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are in a new movie together. I know this because I see billboards of them everywhere, holding guns up next to their pretty faces.
+ Quentin Tarantino and his admirers promote stylized violence as reflection of the way things is, a mirror held up to life. Which is why it’s entertaining. The mirror effect.
+ Our politicians are bought off like cheap whores by people in the killing business.
+ YOU – the editorial You – subtly accept and acknowledge that some violence is always necessary in life, and that as unpleasant as they are when used to murder schoolchildren, guns are actually quite alright when used to murder murderers. (Which is why some of us believe the only answer is to arm everybody, so telling the bad guys apart from the good guys won’t be such a big deal.)
+ We collectively, and by a vast majority, believe that killing and violence are sometimes just and noble acts, as in capital punishment and drone strikes on Pakistani civilians. Our guns are miniature toy versions of our awesome military’s missiles and bombs and armor-piercing bullets.
+ Post Office shootings are down somewhat. So there’s that.
Until we start to see guns as instruments of violence, harm and death – and not abstract symbols of Constitutional philosophies – they’ll continue to be used as instruments of violence, harm and death. Just, we hope, not on us or someone we know. Guns shoot bullets. Bullets are meant to kill. People who own guns for their own “protection” intend on using them to kill – just like the armed bystander in Las Vegas who drew his licensed firearm during a store shooting and was promptly shot in the back by another 2nd Amendment zealot.
So long as we (you, everyone you know, everyone they know) thinks guns are an acceptable part of public life, we’ll remain “helpless” in the face of a public menace.