So can we talk about gun control yet?

16 Dec

Are you kidding me? Shooting in Connecticut leaves at least 27 dead, potentially more, around 20 of whom are children?  If THIS doesn’t get a national dialogue about gun control and lack of access to mental health treatment going, nothing will.

No need to reinvent the wheel. Go ahead and review the Telegraph’s painful tally of mass shootings in the US since the Columbine shootings that emotionally rocked my pre-9/11, naive, coddled, hopeful 18-year-old self. Or Mother Jones’s analysis of the 62 (sixty-two) mass murders committed in the US since 1982. I’ll wait. Try to keep down the bile.

You know what’s sadder than the sheer length of those lists?

I mean, besides the fact that Columbine, with 12 dead, seems like child’s play compared to the 32 dead in Virginia Tech?

That I’d never heard of some of those shootings before opening this Telegraph article?

That I forgot about a February 2008 shooting that left 16 students dead at the University of DeKalb?

That the March 2009 shooting of eight elderly people at a nursing home never even registered has having existed the static of day-to-day bad news?

No, what’s even more tragic is that the list is woefully incomplete. In December alone, four were shot while Christmas shopping at a mall in Portland, Oregon, and today 20-ish babies and 7-ish adults died while attending school.

Now read this poor mother’s accounting of her pre-teen son’s violent struggle with some unidentifiable mental illness, entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.”  (Good luck. It’s touched a nerve with so much of the American public, the site keeps crashing.) That poor baby. That poor family. And if that child doesn’t receive the care he needs before he becomes large enough to out-wrestle his mother or, say, shoot her in the face with her own guns, then that poor community. This is a little boy who has threatened to kill himself, his mother, his siblings, Yet he is not eligible to receive mental health care until he actually commits a crime. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!? I’ve heard of pre-existing conditions before. But since when is a pre-existing body count required to diagnose a mental condition?

Le sigh, as the French say.

After the recent murder-suicide of an NFL football player and his girlfriend (I’ll let you guess who was the murderer and who was the murder-ee), Bob Costas, America’s never-aging sportscaster, attempted to use his national platform on Sunday Night Football to start a dialogue about gun control and the pervasive gun culture in the United States.

He mostly quoted from a Fox Sports Columnist, Jason Whitlock, who wrote: “our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy” and that “if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

And BOY did Fox News get its panties in a bunch, claiming that Sunday Night football was not the correct venue for such a discussion, and that the “bodies aren’t even cool” blah-blah-blah-convenient-false-deference-for-victims-blah. There is so much wrong with this argument, I’m not sure where to begin. No one says it better than Jon Stewart, so I’ll let him doing the saying: Any given gun day

There is no inappropriate time to discuss something this important. It is appropriate for Bob Costas to mention this shooting on Sunday Night Football; for the postman to mention it as he delivers mail; for the Disney tram conductor to mention it between the parking lot and the ferry; for the goddamned gynecologist to mention it while my knees are around my ears. It is always appropriate. Because failure to discuss gun control is not only killing children and old people, it’s infecting our society with a distrust of society (yeah, wrap your mind around that one) that will rot us all to the core.

And let’s get real: the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms was created at time when it took a full minute to reload a gun–and that’s if you were good. (Hence the term “Minutemen” to describe America’s rebel militias during the Revolution.) I’m relatively certain George Mason is turning over in his grave at the thought of crazy people using the Bill of Rights to justify the use of semi-automatic weapons by civilians against civilians.

I understand the origins of the 2nd Amendment. It was intended to allow the people access to the fire power necessary to overthrow a tyrannical government. But who missed the memo that the U.S. has nuclear bombs? That’s bombssss, plural. Not to mention submarines, tanks, black death helicopters, and unmanned drones that can take out an individual from a couple hundred feet. An Uzi is going to do shit to protect you from the U.S. government, and it will turn Bambi into inedible Swiss cheese. What an Uzi IS good for, though, is killing five-year-olds. And old people. And people sitting in malls. And university students walking to class. And high-schoolers in the lunch room. The only thing it is good for is killing people. So unless NRA whacknuts are actually advocating for allowing public purchase and distribution of dirty bombs, this is a completely moot point.

I’m waiting for the first person on FB to say something like “if more sane people had guns, fewer crazy people would use theirs to kill people.” (Whoops, look at that; took less than a day.) If the crux of your argument is that five-year-olds and/or their teachers should be packing heat then You. Have. A. Losing. Argument.

You don’t want to talk about gun control? Fine. Then talk about the machismo that encourages young men — but not women — to commit these crimes year after year, ratcheting up the violence with each incantation. Talk about access to mental health care. But talk about something. You cannot ignore the statistics. You cannot ignore the tiny caskets that are to be buried in Connecticut next week. Reality has an ugly way of making itself known.

Now pardon me while I try not to pop the heads off my children as I hold them very, very tight. Tonight my only hope is that they never have to stare down the receiving end of a 9 mm while learning their ABCs. And that is sad.


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