About the tragedy: A week ago I had just left the Danbury/Newtown, CT, area, after spending a few days there for work. The people I worked with were kind and generous with suggestions of how I might spend my hours alone, easy to work with, and made me feel welcome. It makes this entire tragedy all the more personal to me. As a parent; hell, just as a human being, I can’t imagine anything worse than what is being endured by the poor people trying to live through the aftermath of what has happened there. Certainly some of those folks I worked with have been affected, if not directly, then a degree or two removed. If I were a praying man, they would certainly be in them.
I’m a gun owner. I know many reasonable people who love their kids and their neighbors and also own guns. I am acquainted with some folks who also have permits to carry guns, which they do. Generally those folks creep me out, but I give the folks I know the benefit of the doubt. Most of the people I see around here carrying also seem caught up in the image of it with their camo-themed clothing and various other tactical gear hanging off their belts. Those dudes scare me, and I give them a wide berth. They are pretty much all middle-aged white guys too.
When it comes to an armed citizenry, the last thing I want if someone pulls a gun is to have a bunch of other jackasses pull theirs and start slinging lead. So even though I believe in the right to keep arms, you can still sign me up as one of the people who do believe that something needs to be done. For an excellent essay on the subject that I agree 100% with, I’d direct you to my writing and Instagram pal Neliza Drew’s blog, HERE. An excerpt:
I need a license to drive my car. It’s big (compared to a human) and it’s dangerous when used improperly. I had to take a class. I have to follow rules. I have to renew the license. I have to carry insurance. I have to have a title showing I bought it from somewhere – even if it was my cousin and I paid him a dollar (note: where do I find such a cousin?). If it turns out there’s a problem, like my cousin stole the car from his neighbor, his dad, the mall parking lot, he either won’t have a title to give me (red flag not to buy) or what he’ll give me is a forgery, which can be tracked back to him).
You have a gun? Sure. Where’s your license? The title? This thing came from a reputable seller, not some kid on the corner, right? You have a permit to purchase ammo? Sure. No, sir, I can’t sell you rounds for a gun you don’t legally own. No, sir, I can’t sell you 100,000 rounds at one time. No, sir, there’s no reason for you to need an automatic weapon or an assault rifle. If you think you need one of those to hunt deer or wild boar or pheasant, you’re not a very good hunter and should probably stay indoors for the safety of all involved.
She says what I would say, so I don’t need to say more. Well done, Neliza.
I will add that there is a knee-jerk political side to all this that I find depressing, and equally sickening. I have seen this quote, or variations of it, a couple different times both on Facebook and via Twitter:
“4.3 million NRA members hold 312 million Americans hostage.”
That is utter bullshit. The reason we don’t have more gun control is because Americans really don’t want it. If those 312 million people really want to do something about it, it is only their own apathy stopping them. We have the laws we’ve allowed. We have the government full of millionaires we’ve elected. We have the media we prefer (the media being another target of much self-righteous twit-book postings). We live in the nation we’ve created and actively allow to continue. Enough with the “Someone needs to do something!” stuff. This from another excellent little commentary I read today:
It reminded me of the dichotomy between the two sides of this argument regarding gun rights. There’s a world full of people who just want to live their lives, not hurt anyone, and just be honest and sincere. Then there’s the world where a corporation wants to sell you whatever it’s making by any means necessary. This is where the NRA operates.
I can tell you this—most of the people I’ve met from the NRA don’t believe the bullshit they’re selling. Their ethos conforms to whomever pays their salary. That’s a trap much bigger than most of us bother to notice. But let’s take this small bite as we talk about how to keep people from shooting up kindergarten classrooms. Gun lobbyists, the guys drawing the big checks, aren’t nutjobs and they don’t love the Constitution any more than you do. They’re Americans in it for a buck. They’ve taken a profitable position selling a lifestyle to frightened people who buy that lifestyle, ironically enough, from the very industry that funds their fear. They’re not fanatics; they’re just capitalists. Don’t be afraid of them.
Like everything else in the USA, it’s about money and attention spans. The vast majority of people raving about gun control and cursing the NRA will have forgotten all about it by New Years. One of the funniest little social commentary one-liners I saw on the lead up to this last election was this: “If the Republicans win, does that mean Democrats will be anti-war again?”
My heart breaks for the deaths of innocent people. No more for the families in Connecticut, though, than it does for those people in Pakistan who are under a constant and deadly barrage of drone attacks that have killed far more innocents than the murderer in Newtown did, courtesy of the American taxpayer. So when I see these Obama sycophants drop comments like, “Thank you so much for the heartfelt message President Obama!” I want to puke. Until those people step up and hold their guy as accountable for mindless slaughter in our name as they did when Bush was president, or that they would if some other Republican were in charge, then all their finger-pointing at the NRA is only so much hypocritical posturing. Fuck those people. Their hands are no less bloody than those of the folks who oppose gun control.
Stopping the war is an act of social change in which we’ve failed. I predict gun control will be the same thing. This country has made changes in the past, but they are expensive in time and energy and will. I question how willing most of us are to carry these kinds of efforts out anymore, because it is so easy to point across a line and blame someone else.
There needs to be common ground on issues like this. When it comes to guns and indiscriminate murder, you’re either for killing, or you’re against it. You can’t give “your guy” a pass in one arena while pointing your fingers at the “other guy” in another one.