There. I said it. I should also say that I don't like guns at all. My father was a card-carrying member of the NRA and held right-wing conservative Republican views like the millions of Fox News watchers. He often fell for the same paranoia and lies fed to him by people who believe blacks should go back to Africa, Jews control global finance, and Mexicans are taking over the country. I'm not even sure how he felt about gays, as we never discussed it, though he did accept me and my partner with love and respect. Still, were he alive to witness the tragedy and horror of the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, he would firmly proclaim that guns don't kill people—people do. And he'd be right.
That argument is fallacious, of course. No one really believes that guns might suddenly and spontaneously begin murderous rampages just for shits and giggles, let alone psychotic reasoning. Folks who argue about guns not killing people like to say that, even if a killer didn't have a gun, he'd find another weapon of destruction. In a horrible coincidence, the same day an insane man murdered twenty children with guns secured legally by their owner, a man in China stabbed more kids outside of a school. Obviously, Chinese citizens do not have easy access to guns. Apparently, there have been several school stabbings in China, though this latest resulted in no deaths. That must say something in favor of gun control, right? If the shooter in Connecticut didn't have access to guns, would any or all of those children be alive today?
Many of my friends are intelligent, reasoned, well-meaning people who feel just this way: remove guns from the equation to alleviate the problem of nutjobs shooting up classrooms, malls, movie theaters, and anywhere else. On the other side of that coin are many of my friends, also intelligent, reasoned, well-meaning people, who believe that, now more than ever, Americans need to be able to protect themselves by exercising their Second Amendment rights. After all, we need to be able to protect ourselves in our homes, our communities, and our lives. But look how well that worked out for Trayvon Martin.
The truth is convoluted, the factors numerous, and the repercussions critical. I certainly don't have all the answers nor do I know all of the questions.
What I do know is that America is broken. Repeated massacres in this country are an anomaly. Other countries have had their tragedies, but those are few and far between. Only China has anything similar, which suggests our connection runs deeper than China's ownership of the United States, and Americans' obsession with buying cheaply made stuff they don't need. But we nearly hold the monopoly on mass shootings. Heck, there was a week or two last year that one was occurring every day. Abroad, non-Americans feel we must be numb to them by now, it has happened here so many times. This is doubtless untrue, despite the casualness with which one woman tweeted "Just survived my first mall shooting" after another deadly incident in Oregon a few days before Newtown. What sort of world, sort of country do we live in when we have to ponder something like that? The world and country called America.
The War on Drugs has decimated black youth, especially males, banishing them into overpopulated prisons. The incarceration industry in this country likes it that way and actively lobbies for stricter drug laws and longer sentences. At the same time, marijuana is being decriminalized by states as we discover that drug addiction, treated as a disease rather than crime, lessens with decriminalization.
Mental illness is still considered weakness in America and many people suffer in silence and invisibility. Government assistance for the mentally ill has been reduced beyond usefulness. Some live homeless, unable to benefit from medicine or therapy. Others live their lives hiding in rooms from parents who don't know, or don't want to know, that their children are reaching a breaking point.
The Media magnify crime and horror and death by broadcasting the worst of the worst crimes and tragedies at the head of the news. And when stories like Newtown hit, networks go all out to broadcast the bloodbath for hours, even days. While claiming they don't wish to bring attention to the man who committed the atrocities, newscasters do exactly that by repeating and rehashing the crime, flashing photos of crying children, destroyed adults, facts and figures. The meme improperly credited to Morgan Freeman said that endless coverage of twenty children dying will lead the next spree killer to aim for a daycare center or a maternity ward. Of course, we already had a mass killing at a daycare center when Timothy McVeigh blew off the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma all those years ago. And he didn't bother with guns. Terrorists like McVeigh and those from around the world are unintentionally glorified through repeated and redundant reporting leaving Americans to believe death lingers around every corner, even though the chances of dying in a terrorist attack are tremendously less than the chances of dying in a car accident.
Fingers are pointed and blame is laid. This happened as a result of taking prayer out of schools. Parents need to discipline their children, need to give them a good smack like when we were kids. If just one of those teachers could have carried a weapon legally, this might never have happened. His brother knew what was going on; that's why they arrested him. And next week, it will all be purposefully forgotten as Americans return to their Monday Night Football and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
And gun laws. If only there were laws against gun ownership. If only there were laws against certain types of weapons and ammunition. If only the NRA wasn't buying complacency and complicity. If only the Second Amendment didn't exist. One argument goes like this: You need a training, passage of a test, and purchase of a license before you can drive a car. Therefore, shouldn't the same be required for buying a gun?? Unfortunately, car operation and/or ownership is not protected under the Constitution. Coincidentally, we're all more likely to die in a car accident than by the bullet of a gun.
We all know the intention of the Second Amendment was to ensure we would be able to protect ourselves as a country rather than individuals, right? But what about making guns illegal protect citizens? Criminals already acquire guns illegally. If Americans are unable legally to obtain guns, how are they expected to protect themselves? The public would be at the mercy of drug lords, loan sharks, just about any weirdo who gets a Glock from his mother's house to hit a local convenience store, or worse. All the same, should the general public have access to semi-automatic weapons just because they can be be gotten illegally as well?
I won't even begin to discuss the civil liberties curtailed since the passage of the Patriot Act.
If you've found this read to be meandering and confusing, if you aren't sure what my point was, then you're correct. And you're welcome to counter anything I've said here. The problem is, I've already countered most of them myself. And there's so much more I've missed that also needs to be addressed until we can begin to unravel how to end gun violence in the United States. I guarantee you that strict gun laws won't stop massacres like the ones we've witness over the years leading up to the latest atrocity in Newtown. Americans will initially be left with a false sense of security. Eventually, there will be confusion, anger, and downright chaos.
It's not the guns. Okay, it is partially the guns. But it is so very much more.
* * Crossposted from Dreamwidth.org * *