I awoke Friday to news of another mass shooting, this one in Kansas. Three dead, 14 wounded – a small incident as these things go. The news put the story on second, after a preview of the Oscars. That’s where we are in this country.
The details of why it happened weren’t clear at the time. They’re only slightly clearer now. But does it matter? Don’t we already know the answer?
It happened because of guns. It almost always happens because of guns – big guns, small guns, guns with sniper scopes, handguns, assault weapons, guns that spit bullets as fast as a finger can twitch, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns.
As a society, you’d think we’d pick up on that common denominator.
But we never do. Instead, we focus on people – crazy people, sad people, lonely people, angry people, suicidal people, people with a grudge, people who just snap, people who were bullied as a child.
Which is maddeningly stupid and obvious. Yes, of course, people are to blame. Guns don’t fire themselves, after all. But it’s also obvious and true that a society with fewer guns is likely to have fewer shooting victims. (Real mind blower there, right?) (And just so you know how gun crazy America is, we have 4.43 percent of the world’s people, but 42 percent of all the guns. Break out the chant: “We’re No. 1 … by a lot! We’re No. 1 … by a lot!”)
And it’s patently, ridiculously, infuriatingly, maddeningly obvious – follow the logic here – that since crazy people, sad people, lonely people, angry people, suicidal people, people with a grudge, people who just snap and people who were bullied as a child are always going to be with us, it makes sense to make it harder for them to take so many others with them when they explode, right?
I keep waiting for that realization to take hold in America but there’s no sign of it yet. Instead, we seem to prefer the current “Woe is me” approach to guns, which is working so well. This approach throws up its hands, shrugs it shoulder and mewls, “Nothing can be done, might as well accept it.”
Aren’t we better than that? This is America. We’re feisty doers, not victims. We fix problems, not shrink from them. We don’t have to accept weekly mass shootings. We don’t have to live in a nation where you automatically check for the exits when you go to the movies. We don’t have to say a silent prayer every morning that a madman doesn’t shoot up our kids’ school. We don’t have to rehearse “active shooter” drills at our jobs.
We just don’t. We can fix this. It’s our country, damn it. There are lots of easy ways to reclaim it.
We can tell the NRA to go to hell, for starters. We could reject their insane view that there’s no such thing as a good gun law.
We could also limit the number and types of guns we allow ourselves to have. We’re big boys and girls. We don’t need the NRA’s permission. We don’t have to meekly accept their extreme interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. We could make it so people have guns for protection and for sport but can’t build arsenals. We could get rid of assault weapons, massive ammo drums and clips and military-grade bullets. We could make it hard to get a gun – very hard, insanely hard if we want to.
We could also vote. Voting is good. We can start by voting those people and parties out of office that actually brag about having a high NRA rating. When politicians do that it means they’ve abandoned free thought and the public good and placed our gun policies in the hands of people who have a direct financial stake in the sale of ever more guns.
Most of all, we could decide to stop playing dumb. By that I mean, we could stop swallowing our own nonsense about how nothing can be done.
Sounds crazy but it just might work.
For a great article and video on America’s gun addiction, see “America’s gun problem, explained.”