I still have more to say

I’m not sure why this shooting incident should hit me so hard. People are shot and killed every day in this country, for no better reason than the children in Connecticut were murdered. Maybe because we can sort of comprehend individual shootings: a robbery gone bad, a gang shooting, a suicide, a murder in the heat of the moment, the accidental discharge of a gun that kills a child.

Firearms injuries and deaths are commonplace in the U.S., and for good reason: we fetishize firearms and our Congress—craven, cowardly, hypocritical—is willing to be corrupted by the gun industry. ¬†Americans are seduced by firearms, the false power they represent, filling whatever psychological or socioeconomic void a person suffers. Guns can do that: they can make an impoverished man feel just as powerful as a millionaire; the playing field is leveled, a dueling ground where they can meet as equals.

Fuck them both. The powerful and wealthy toss guns at the poor like drugs. More opiates for the masses. As if our system can’t find more subtle ways to control people than gun legislation.

I’m devastated. I had to explain mass child murder to my eight year old daughter. Sure, school massacres don’t happen every day, but in this country, the do happen, enough so that we all know the script, the children fleeing the building, the heroic teachers, the sobbing political leaders, the invocations of God, as if some deity had anything to do with it.

The other night I cried. I couldn’t be consoled. My wife slept with out daughter, not because the kid needed it, but because we did. Murder, committed hundreds of miles away, has that power. It has that power because there is no evidence that it will ever stop, that we as a nation care enough about each other to reduce the threat of guns.

I expect I’ll be depressed for several more days. I work late tonight and all I want is to be home with my family, now more than usual. I have no sympathy for gun owners, not even those who are my friends. I would call on them to dump the damned things, or at least store them in a locker at a range where the harm is at least a bit less.

I’ve seen at least a dozen simple, elegant ideas for gun regulation on twitter and facebook alone in the last few days. The only thing that prevents carrying these out is lack of political will. Why aren’t we all in the streets, rallying for strict gun laws? Why isn’t every parent asking the parents of their kid’s friends if they have a gun in the house? Why aren’t we ostracizing our gun-toting neighbors?

I’m calling on my friends, acquaintances, readers who own guns to get rid of them. If you want a hunting rifle, get a bolt-action rifle and keep it in storage until hunting season. Better yet, find a better hobby, like sitting in the cold woods drinking beer without a gun.

If we don’t continue to scream for change, it won’t happen, and more will die. That’s a guarantee.

5 Comments

  1. Johnny Canuck

     /  December 17, 2012

    Interesting how many western countries have managed to shame and ostracize those who drive while drunk. Or exile smokers from public buildings.

  2. Anthropologist Underground

     /  December 17, 2012

    I think all people of compassion are having a really hard time with this. Here’s what I’ve had to process so far this year with my nine-year-old (he would know nothing about any of this except that other parents apparently allow their kids to watch the most graphic-detail laden reports): Aurora theater shootings three miles from our neighborhood, school on lockdown because of some random naked dude with a gun in the neighborhood adjacent to the school, Jessica Ridgeway, and now this.

    Prior to Friday, I could internally distance myself. This won’t happen to us because I don’t take my kids to violent movies late at night, or random naked dude is random, or we all bike to school together, or violent things happen to people of other races or other socioeconomic strata. Not to me. But these kids could have been mine. And for me it’s not even fear. It’s just abject, unspeakable sadness.

  3. Thanks for bringing this up. Finland ranks very high in worldwide gun prevalence (I believe #4), yet gun violence is one order of magnitude less than in the US. Difference between the two countries? Gun control laws. And the Finns are perfectly able to hunt, and target practice, and whatever legal we do with our guns.

  4. Thank you for continuing to write about this. I, too, have been brought even lower by this slaughter than by any senseless massacre yet. Every parent ought to be, and anyone who cares about children ought to be. The proliferation of crazy Rambo insanity and they’re-coming-for-our-guns paranoia only makes it worse and makes me wonder if we can ever get past this insanity. Please keep these posts coming. The things you’re writing about cannot be said enough.

  5. This has hit many of us so hard because the victims were such young children. Who makes targets of such young children?

    As a lifelong firearm owner, I’m horrified by the NRA’s response to this tragedy. Had I not pulled my membership years ago I surely would have done so now. There is a difference between having a tool to allow you to hunt or keep your livestock safe, and having an arsenal.

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