Sunday, December 16, 2012
In the aftermath of the unthinkable violence in Newtown. Connecticut, I'm deeply ashamed to say that some Americans immediately reacted to the news as a threat to their right to bear arms.
Six adults and twenty irreplaceable children, including Emilie Alice Parker, pictured above, are no longer alive. We've had one mass killing on an average of every four months since the slaughter of thirty-two people at Virginia Polytechnic in 2007. In fact, we had an attempted mass killing the very day after the Newtown murders--three people were shot, but not fatally, by a lone gunman at a hospital in Alabama.
One mass killing every four months. It's been less than six months since twelve people were shot down in that theater in Ohio.
America had more than eleven thousand deaths by gunshot last year. That's roughly thirty a day. These people were not killed with salad forks or hunting knives or poisoned darts. The common denominator is guns.
But in the hours immediately following the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, our own president's press secretary said, "This isn't the day to talk about gun control."
He was right. We should have been talking about gun control for decades. We should have enacted gun control laws decades ago. But we haven't because this country is (a) more corrupt than we like to think it is and (b) crazier than we like to think it is.
Corruption, the green grease, has kept the National Rifle Association at the top of the list of America's most powerful lobbies for decades. They were working the halls of power within minutes of the news breaking in Newtown. They have a lot of money and they swing a lot of votes, and the hand puppets in Washington, beginning with Obama's press secretary, leapt to their scripts. Money talks, often through our elected representatives.
And then, we're nuts. Look at Facebook or Twitter or any other social media platform, and there they are: the Warm Gun Society."We don't have a gun problem," one person wrote. "We have a violent culture problem." No, the problem is a violent culture that's full of guns. Isn't a violent culture the very culture you'd most want to keep guns away from?
Another popular argument is that guns allow us to defend ourselves against (I suppose) other people with guns. If you answer that the basic purpose of gun control is to keep guns away from the people most likely to use them, the Warm Gun Society members respond with the rote formula that gun control will actually take guns away only from the law-abiding, leaving the rest of us in a "Mad Max" world, cowering helplessly from an underclass of heavily armed sociopaths. Problem with that argument is that most of the countries that have stringently-enforced gun control have much. much lower rates of gunshot-related deaths. America's death by-gunshot-rate is 450 times greater than Japan's, 45 times greater than England's.
I have to say that it amazes me that anyone could look at the face of Emilie Alice Parker and take refuge in the kind of dry, baseless inanities that the gun defenders recite. One of them, also on Facebook, pointed to China, and said, in essence, Lookie, lookie -- a guy there terrorized a school with a knife, stabbing 22 students.
But that person failed to note that none of the children in that Chinese school died. All of the children who were shot at at Sandy Hook died.
I've been sending up a prayer whenever I thought of it today for the first responders who had to go into that classroom. I saw a picture of five weeping policemen, and it broke my heart all over again. When I read the things the Gun Society is posting, I wonder whether it would change their minds if they'd had to go into that room, if they'd seen those children and the unspeakable obscenity that was committed there.
Tim -- Sundays
at 12:34 AM