Not a “Gun Situation”

 

Aren’t you sick and tired of the bullshit? Some white kid–not a Muslim, not a terrorist from the Middle East, not even some urban bad guy–walks into a church in a small Texas town and kills 26 people, but it’s not a “gun situation”? How did he murder all of those people? Was his weapon some sort of laser beam, or a Koran or polluted air?

In fact, as is pointed out every time there’s a mass shooting in this country, it’s never a “gun situation.” We either have enough guns laws in place already or laws won’t stop bad people.

And certainly we shouldn’t do anything to make guns less lethal. However many rounds they can fire, however rapidly they can discharge their deadly cargoes, wherever they can be carried either openly or in secret, none of those considerations causes or contributes to the epidemic of deadly violence in the United States. It won’t be long, in all likelihood, before gun advocates slip a provision into some piece of Congressional legislation that allows silencers to be put on guns without restriction or limitation.

We are told that when the fault doesn’t lie with religious fanatics–and, actually, it usually doesn’t–it’s because some person with mental health problems went off on a killing spree.  The logical implication of that argument–not that logic has ever had much to do with the arguments of gun advocates–is that we should be strengthening our programs for the mentally ill and increasing the funding for those efforts.  You can scour the federal budget in vain for any signs of increased funding. The mental health explanation is merely a dodge to change the subject from any consideration of gun regulations.

Have you ever heard Donald Trump, any representative of the NRA or the Members of Congress who they own put forth a serious proposal about improving mental health services in this country?  No sign of it in the President’s agenda.  No indication that Paul Ryan has included something in the tax bill.  Republicans have about as much interest in mental health services as they do in health care generally.

And certainly don’t resort to facts.  Comparisons with the records of other developed nations apparently are irrelevant because the United States is “exceptional.”  Unfortunately, the reality that stands out most clearly as exceptional is our addiction to gun violence.

Meanwhile, you might be tempted to feel better because of the press accounts of the hero with a gun who chased the killer from the church.  His presence will be argued by gun advocates as proof that if only all of us were fully armed all of the time, there would be no mass killings.  Only  that guy arrived too late, after 26 were dead.

You’re going to tell me it could have been worse. Perhaps, but there’s never been any indication that Second Amendment “true believers” actually care about the magnitude or horror of gun deaths.  Newtown, with its massacre of school children, changed nothing.  Concert goers in Las Vegas being mowed down are already far in the rear view mirror for most gun supporters.

Other people’s deaths become merely the cost of freedom, as long as you define freedom solely as the right to possess as many guns as you want with few–preferably no–limits.

Maybe we need to go back to an Originalist interpretation of the Second Amendment.  I’m sure the late Antonin Scalia would approve.  What if we let everyone own a single-shot musket as long as they are members of a local militia?  How’s that for trying to find common ground?

To borrow from one of the President’s favorite phrases, we are the laughing-stock of the world because of our stance towards guns and gun violence.  If people weren’t blinded by their ideology and their fanaticism, if they only opened their eyes and the minds, they would clearly see that we are facing a public health crisis.  In so many other ways, we are a nation that has identified problems, worked together to find solutions and then whole-heartedly implemented them. Just not about guns.

Instead, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.  And the head.  And everywhere else.