Politics · Society

Sick and Numb

Reading the headlines and the tweets, it is clear the search is on for a reason why this particular guy planned and carried out a mass murder with guns. Same as always.

Was it his religion? His race? His mental health? A grudge? Was he just a bad guy with a history of violence or run-ins with the police? Nope. Oh, wait. His father was a bad guy.

What a stretch. A contortion to explain away the most recent horror, and make it about the man and not the guns. He’s a lone wolf, you know. An aberration.

Except he’s not. He joins a very long list of people who have used guns to commit mass murder of strangers. There is no useful profile of these murderers. All we can know is at some point, they came into possession of one or more guns that can kill a lot of people quickly, and the ammunition to do so. And they made a plan and carried it out.

We also know that no amount of locked doors, metal detectors, security personnel, school resource officers, or space and distance can keep the innocent safe from such a murderer with the right weapon. He can drive long distances across state lines to kill, or he can walk down the street to the local elementary school or church. He can kill on a military base, or from a tall building, or in his workplace, or a shopping mall.

Our elected representatives are powerless to keep us safe from gun violence. If they advocate for any laws whatsoever regulating guns, they will lose their seats to someone funded by the NRA. Gun stocks rise after a mass murder because speculators know that the NRA will attempt to raise fears that this time, Congress might do something, triggering a spike in gun and ammunition sales.

This is how we choose to live. Recently my city was forced to hire a police officer to monitor the entrance to the public library. This is because the city posted a sign that notified patrons that no firearms are allowed on the premises. Our state legislators insisted that the open carry law allowed open carry in all public spaces, even libraries, unless entrance to the space was restricted at all times. So, in order to keep guns out of our public library, where people are reading books and working on computers and children are listening to story hour, our city has to hire an armed police officer. Because the state of Alabama insists.

I saw an armed man when I was buying a new muffin tin in Bed, Bath and Beyond the other day.  My brother who just retired from a long career in law enforcement, has taught me to check how a person secures his openly carried weapon. A loaded, unholstered gun carried in a pocket, or a purse, or stuck in a waistband is a danger to the owner and all those around him. In my opinion, a person who takes his gun out and waves it around for show, as our Republican nominee for United States Senate, Roy Moore, did at a recent campaign rally, is a danger to all those around him.  Some people do not have the training necessary to safely carry guns in public. But our elected leaders are afraid to even mandate training.

Congress just announced that they will be looking at a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. That seems completely unrelated to the massacre in Las Vegas but it is not. It is a message. “We are so very sorry about all the dead and wounded in Las Vegas, and our legislative priority right now is … preventing abortions.” In other words, don’t worry, NRA.

This is how we choose to live. There is no “common sense” solution anymore. After Sandy Hook, where the murderer shot each of the six and seven year olds three to eleven times at close range, nothing changed. If we are powerless in the face of that horror to make even the smallest changes to protect innocent lives from gun violence, then this is who we are.

 

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