Just Another Day in America
I hesitated to write about the latest mass shooting, since I hadn’t even gotten around to writing about the one here just last week, about which I felt more qualified to comment. I guess the rule ought to be not to wait, because before you ever hit “publish” there will probably be a new one, perhaps suited to a timely update. I suppose if I dropped every other subject and wrote exclusively about mass slaughter, I’d have a fresh topic every other day, but why? Each one is different, but in the end they are all the same.
An unbalanced young white male with astonishingly easy access to a military-grade arsenal shoots up a bunch of people, the media swoop in, tearful survivors bemoan the senseless deaths, and we do absolutely nothing about it. Lather, rinse, repeat. Despite the unusually high number killed, and the fact that they were mostly children who lived in a posh suburb, I don’t expect Newtown to be any different. Sure enough, Louis Gohmert took to the airwaves with the helpful suggestion that the teacher ought to have pulled her M4 out of the chalk tray and blown the shooter’s head off. Seriously.
In a vain attempt to foster a conversation about what to any functioning democracy would be a pressing issue, Meet the Press contacted 31 pro-gun US Senators and all declined to appear, proving that, for all their empty bluster, gun nuts are too chicken to face David Gregory, who is approximately the journalistic equivalent of a golden retriever. Dowdy cocktailhag Dianne Feinstein boldly promised to introduce gun control legislation on day one of the next Congress, but anyone who thinks such a thing would ever pass the House probably also still puts out cookies for Santa.
In the end, such gestures prove less than empty; gun nuts respond by buying yet more, and more terrifying, guns, and those lush profits thus created are immediately funneled back to the NRA and ALEC, which continue to push for weaker laws and more gun ownership. The vicious cycle is well-established; even the vaguest hint at restricting, say, people with criminal backgrounds or mental illness from buying assault rifles leads immediately to a bonanza of sales, negating the value of any law going forward.
Although gun ownership has been shrinking for decades in the wider populace, those who do own guns tend to own many of them, a deranged fetish that has been proven to be hazardous to one’s health, as the shooter’s survivalist mother found out, but hard facts cannot penetrate their paranoia. Worse, they are awash in a culture of persecution fantasies and apocalyptic fever dreams, living in fear of things deeply unlikely to happen.
It is this dangerous mental state, relentlessly stoked by the gun lobby and right-wing politicians, that makes it unsurprising, if infuriating, that White House spokesman Jay Carney airily dismissed any notion that this particular tragedy, like all others before and presumably those to come, would be the right time to talk about gun control. Carney is acutely aware that his boss, for reasons too numerous to mention, is in no position to advance meaningful restrictions on guns. Half of Republicans don’t even think he was legitimately elected, and most will greet any such proposal as confirmation of years of NRA fearmongering. Obama has already set a record for Presidential death threats while loosening gun laws. Were he to attempt to actually tighten them, he could look forward to spending his second term under virtual house arrest.
In short, we have come to a point in this country of just leaving the barn door open, since the horses left so long ago. People who think that they will soon need to defend themselves against government tyranny and are stupid enough to think they stand an ice cube’s chance in hell against the world’s largest and most lethal military are deluded, yes, but they seem to comprise a plurality of armed Americans. That’s the problem. In an effort to make a fast buck, the gun industry has created a monster, and no number of slaughtered innocents will ever satisfy it.