Tuesday, December 18, 2012
If not now God when, when, WHEN...
guest post from Miss M's daddy;
The last time I cried about the death of someone I didn't know was 9/11.
This morning, I cried as the news kept coming in, every minute worse than the last, about the school shooting in Connecticut. I remember Columbine, when I was younger. That was a sad tragedy, but Newtown today, is something unbearable. It was unrealized life being taken out of the world before its time.
Earlier this week, there was a shooting in a Portland shopping mall. A few months back, a movie theater in Colorado. This is the way we live now. And it is disgusting. We are killing each other, killing ourselves, killing our planet. Killing our children. We've been overtaken by a philosophy that deifies wealth above all else, that a penny tax to benefit the hollowed-out bones of the mental health system in this state is unfair and outrageous. We are told by so-called preachers and men of God that the Lord wants us to be rich, above all else. That we don't understand Jesus, that we wrongly see him as a "hippie, who walked around picking flowers and eating birdseed", when in reality he was a tough guy, in the words of Rev. Robert Jeffres yesterday. That the Christian culture is under attack. That there is a "war on Christmas".
We live in callous disregard of each other. Of each others' pain and our histories. We are not linked in real life anymore; instead, we are "friends" with people on social media all over the world, some of whom we have never met before. I don't even know my neighbor's names. Families are falling apart. Inequality is rampant, greater than any time in a century, and it is proven time and again that societies with greater inequality have more violence. We go to war and we kill and are killed. Gun violence happens every single day in this country. Forty people a day are shot in this country, on average. We do not want to pay a single penny more than we have to, at the cost of all of our safety.
So, this is the way we live now. We shake our heads over Gabby Giffords, and Aurora, and Virginia Tech, and then we are surprised when it happens again. The assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004, and has not been renewed despite several attempts. In the course of a two-year presidential campaign, the issue of gun control was absent entirely, even in the wake of the Aurora shooting.
But there's no such thing as a debate on this issue anymore. I know already what I will hear from the Second Amendment ballistophiles. They will wrap themselves in the Constitution and get weepy over the Founding Fathers, and scream about their rights. Their rights to own assault weapons and high-quantity clips of ammunition. Their right to a utopia where if only "someone in the crowd had been armed" they could have "taken down" the assailant. Their So, this is the way we live now. We shake our heads over Gabby Giffords, and Aurora, and Virginia Tech, and then we are surprised when it happens again. The assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004, and has not been renewed despite several attempts. In the course of a two-year presidential campaign, the issue of gun control was absent entirely, even in the wake of the Aurora shooting.
But there's no such thing as a debate on this issue anymore. I know already what I will hear from the Second Amendment ballistophiles. They will wrap themselves in the Constitution and get weepy over the Founding Fathers, and scream about their rights. Their rights to own assault weapons and high-quantity clips of ammunition. Their right to a utopia where if only "someone in the crowd had been armed" they could have "taken down" the assailant. Their rights to carry concealed weapons into schools, daycare centers, hospitals, as was passed into law today in Michigan. Or bars, in many states. Their rights to circumvent background checks by purchasing direct at gun shows. Their rights to "stand their ground".
The debate is dead, because it's not allowed. The NRA screams and thrashes at the very whisper of some sort of legislation, this patriotic all-American brotherhood of gun-lovers who had the good taste and class to hold their National Convention only weeks after Columbine, only miles away. They talk about how the Constitution is a fixed thing, that no concessions can be made to the march of time and technology, that the Founding Fathers must surely have meant that in the event that the ball and musket was replaced by something more fanciful and deadly than anything they could ever imagine, there should be no law made to restrict it. That guns don't kill people, people kill people, which is ridiculous on its face. They both kill people, together. There has never been any such incident with a knife, or a baseball bat.
Self-righteous outrage and a sense of affronted rights have taken the place of reasoned debate. The argument goes, you can never get rid of all the guns, so why bother trying? Reducing the risk that guns pose is a worthwhile endeavor. That should not be a contentious point.
I want to know about my rights. What about my right not to live in fear that my beautiful daughter and beloved wife will not be killed? Or even people I don't know? Schoolchildren in another state? The right to live without fear of one another is the greatest unwritten law of humanity. What about that right? What about the right of a parent to see their child grow up? True, it is not a legal right, but a spiritual one. What about the broken compacts of our society, that we live with each other and do not harm one another? That the way we treat the least of us is as we treat our god? That your right to something ends when it infringes on my right to live in peace and freedom and love?
I do not care about your rights. I have heard about your rights since Columbine. You have a gun. I do not understand you. Your rights are paid for in the blood of schoolchildren. Of Trayvon Martin. Of 15,000 gun homicides a year. Of the piled-up dead of Chicago. I do not believe you are trying to keep America free. I do not believe you are a well-regulated militia. Or a well-regulated anything.
I do not and will never comprehend how the power to take a life can be so lightly bestowed in this nation. Tens of thousands of people cannot refinance their mortgages because of bank regulations, but any one of them could go and buy a gun tomorrow. I need a license to drive my car, to open a bottle and give someone a pill at work, to own a dog. I do not need one to own a gun.
Jay Carney today, the president's press secretary, said "Today is not the day to have a policy discussion." If it isn't today, then when the hell is it?
Background checks are not an invasion of privacy. They are part of the cost of having such a power as a gun-owner seeks to have.
A tax on ammunition that would go to a national gun violence victims' trust fund is a simple and humane idea. Why is it controversial?
I don't understand guns, I don't understand why we need them, or what good they serve us as a society. I do understand that they are a right endowed to us under law. I understand that they are here, and they are not going anywhere. I don't understand the fascination, the fetishization, the idealization of them. They are for one purpose. You can claim it is for protection or for sport hunting, but they are made to take the life away from some living thing. That is not a power men should have.
Decades of unlived life, unmade choices, unrealized wishes and dreams were stilled today. This is the way we live now, and it had better make you cry.