And Little More
When I sat down to start writing this column, I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to say. Hell, before you even opened up the paper this week, I’m pretty sure you knew what I wanted to say. In light of recent despicable, tragic events, Newtown, Connecticut, is pretty much the only thing anyone is talking, writing, blogging or — if you’re a politician of any stripe — hemming and hawing over. For reporters — including little two-bit laptop jockeys like myself — the story would seem to write itself.
And that’s exactly the problem: it does.
This is easily my 17th attempt to sit down, hash out my arguments and figure out the best, most original way to say something new about what a topic that leap-frogged the ditch between “national issue” and “national epidemic” more than a decade ago. Some vague statistics: the massacre that took place in Connecticut some days ago is the second or third shooting spree (the first took place at a Sikh temple not 90 minutes from where my wife and I live) that’s occurred since this column was switch-boarded from “whatever you want, Josh” to “whatever you want, Josh, but make sure to call Republicans dicks” about six months back, and God knows how many of them have taken place since I made my screaming, mucusy entrance into this world.
Right, of course this shouldn’t be happening. And I’m sure that we all observed a quiet moment of reflection before kickoff this past NFL Sunday. President Obama made a tearful speech that was rife with emotion and platitudes but short on substance, politicians and celebrities released Grave, Serious Statements, and the gaggle of perky, talking cheekbones across the cable news demographics took a break from their usual 24-hour pissing contest cycles to dust up on their Real Journalism skills.
It was all so jarring, so sad, so clear and loud a call to action. Except it wasn’t.
On a gut level, we’re all still a bit shocked. I can’t pretend to speak for those who were present at the school on the day of the shooting, or for those who lost loved ones, but it’s safe to assume a fair amount of emotional devastation and probable, lifelong PTSD. Reality never truly comes crashing until it directly impacts you, or at least touches your life in some way. How many loved ones of the Newtown victims went about their business the day after this country’s last mass shooting?
Don’t answer that. The answer is depressing.
And this is the problem: no one is surprised anymore. Mass shootings — at schools, at mosques, at churches, at camps, at military bases, wherever — have become an event so commonplace as to require from the rest of us nothing more than a going-through of motions. Did you see the footage of North Koreans “mourning” after Kim Jong-Il passed away? That’s us, only we’re not being paid and/or we don’t have tanks pointed at us. Sorry for the comparison to a hilariously inept nation, but such parallels are becoming less and less unfounded.
Every time this happens, I think, “Well, now the government has to do something about it.” Not only is it a glaring social issue, it’s becoming more and more of a political liability for political leaders. You wouldn’t think so, though, as their reaction when something like this occurs is to see if a second thumb can fit up their ass.
One of the primary problems is, of course, special interest groups like the NRA. Make no mistake, the socio-political dialogue — and, by proxy, the socio-political zeitgeist and current state of affairs — is dominated by such special interest groups. Groups like the NRA and the National Organization for Marriage (itself a glorified hate group) are nothing more than well-heeled viper nests, preying on the insecurities and deep-seeded fears of our electorate’s loudest demographics. Gay marriage threatens your own personal moral practices… how? Making guns easier to purchase — through lax permit laws and the infamous gun show loophole — keeps us safer… how?
The arguments are nonsensical and borderline maniacal in their Ourobouros-esque threads of logic. There’s no word yet on whether the Newtown shooter purchased his firearm through legal channels, but the specifics of whether or not he did in this specific case are irrelevant. It’s not difficult at all for an early-to-mid-20s male to purchase a gun at one of hundreds of gun shows taking place across the country on a daily basis.
This could happen at literally any time. Any. Time.
And we don’t care. At all. If we did, we wouldn’t sit idly by while s**t like this continues to go down on our own doorstep. If we did, we wouldn’t elect simpering coward babies to high office just so they can parry responsibility until the end of their terms.
If we did, this might not have happened.
Look to Australia, of all places. After a widespread gun control reform bill passed in 1996, gun-related fatalities — on both large and small scales — saw a free fall. If an island nation that saw its genesis as a prison country for bucktoothed imperialists barely a century ago can reach such a logical and effective conclusion so quickly, then what is keeping the United States — allegedly one of the more progressive, developed countries in the Western Hemisphere — from doing the same?
Look to death tolls. Look to numbers, if it makes it more real for you. Look to God, if you must.
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