Hello and welcome to our shooting of the month.
More specifically, welcome to a blind, wanton rampage in a Sikh temple south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The whys and whens and whos are not important. What matters is that an individual had easy access to weapons of mass destruction.
(If the similarities between this and our reasons for beginning a misbegotten war in Iraq occur to you, congratulations on possessing a functioning brain.)
As a man who seeks a measure of consistency in the world, our passive acceptance of random, mass killings and the manufacture, distribution and sale of assault weapons deeply confuses and saddens me.
Can I assume that most of us are aware that assault weapons aren’t the weapon of choice among people inclined to go squirrel hunting with grandpa? There is no excuse for them—none—unless your name is James Holmes or Wade Page.
They are weapons made for killing as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. Murdering them. Savaging them. Tearing and ripping them apart with tiny, high-speed metal projectiles fired en masse. This is their singular purpose.
Apologies to John Sigler, but I don’t care how many law-abiding NRA members there are. There are tens of millions of law-abiding drivers, too.
Does this mean drivers don’t suffer expensive, federally-mandated safety equipment? Mandatory automobile insurance? Stiffer penalties for traffic violations?
Of course not.
It means that a reckless and careless minority disproportionately affects all of us. For good or for bad. Which is pretty much the way it goes most of the time. Wasn’t there an expression, something about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link?
Where do you suppose that came from?
Will someone—anyone—please tell me how a society that lapses into mania when a certain type of crib or blind kills a handful of infants accepts this? How can a society increasingly intolerant of abortion accept this?
How can a society that shovels hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars to keep premature newborns alive accept this? How does it (how can it?) square with the ‘sanctity of life’ script?
Are the same people who obediently support a social media campaign to eradicate pink slime okay with this? How about those who obsessively download the most-recent footage from their nanny cams, or those who habitually scan their smart phones for severe weather alerts? Are they okay with this?
If so, why? Are we that scared? Apathetic? Or just too busy? To put it in business terms, none of these encourages investment in our future.
Existing side by side with our considerable egos is this fact: guns make life cheap. And the more guns we have, the cheaper our lives become.
Shouldn’t that offend us? Provoke in us a frothing, roiling rage? Doesn’t homicide diminish the number of our followers on Twitter? The number of people available to like us on Facebook? Shouldn’t we at least demand that someone, somewhere do something about this?
Or should we retreat into the naive optimism of our teenaged years and pretend that it won’t happen to us? Or take comfort in the standard-issue NRA fantasy that our guns will protect us; that we will one day blow a big hole in the midsection of a drug-crazed (and preferably minority) home invader?
(Please ignore the fact that statistically, your gun is more-likely to be: A.) Stolen from you B.) Used on you by a household member C.) Used by you on a household member or D.) Used by a household member in a suicide attempt than on that mythical home invader.)
Sounds like a win-win to me.
I know we are wildly erratic creatures, fraught with inconsistencies and moods that change inexplicably. To desire consistency from a society made-up of beings such as us is probably naïve.
And yet, given our ability to edge ever-closer to the truth of the god particle, or to create laundry detergent scented like mountain streams, our inability to escape the tiny, thoughtless confines of our lizard brains is tragic.
Ditto our failure to realize it is shamelessly exploited, and by whom.