Monday, October 2, 2017

I Cannot Remember All the Gun Massacres Anymore

Here we go again, because of course we have to do this again, and we will do it again soon.

Let me start by saying that with the possible exception of September 11, no event ever hit me as hard as the Sandy Hook school massacre, partly because I have a son the same age as the children who died that day and partly because it was kids. Kids, man. Every so often, not every day, I'll see my kids head out the door to school, and I'll think about that terrible day.

But hell, folks, that was like four or five massacres ago! (UPDATED - EIGHT OR NINE MASSACRES AGO)

Anyway, again, I write not to change anyone's mind but to keep myself on the sunny side of sanity. Partly sunny, at least. This will change no one's mind but I'm writing it anyway. I fear nothing about guns will change in my lifetime because guns are more than part of our culture - for many, they are the physical manifestation of what it means to be American. You can't even talk about reasonable restrictions without some clown spouting off about the Federalist Papers.

And this week, we (again) face the deadliest gun massacre in American history, which supplants the previous deadliest gun massacre (Orlando) in American history after it held that morbid title for only 16 months. Think about that. In 16 months, we've had the two worst gun massacres in modern American history - at a time when gun ownership is at an all-time high, when we're supposedly made safer by such a well-armed public.

(I won't even get into the lone-wolfication of the shooter that has already begun. OF COURSE he's not a terrorist, of course, white men can't be terrorists, they're just disillusioned maybe he was ECONOMIC ANXIETIED if you know what I mean. But that's another rant for another day.)

In addition to Sandy Hook, we've had Blacksburg and Orlando and Aurora and Chattanooga and Lafayette. The on-air execution of two reporters from a Virginia news station. The community college in Oregon. San Bernardino. I can't remember all of them. Can you believe that?

UPDATED - (a Texas church, Parkland, Santa Fe, and I am sure I’m missing some)

We can't keep track of all the gun massacres.

I mean, this stupid thing doesn't make any sense at all.
Just look at it.
And it will never stop. It will never stop because if a classroom full of dead first graders didn't change anything, nothing will.

OK? I get it. We are never getting any substantive gun control. But Jesus, Republicans won't even give an inch? Their heads are so far up the NRA's ass that they won't even consider a universal background check?

So, understanding some might take issue with this anti-gun rant, please - and this is the best part of being in your 40s - rest assured that I am all out of fucks to give. The gun folks will come at me with their Federalist papers and their smugness, their strict constructionism, anything to cloak themselves from the responsibility for the fact that it's their bizarre fetish with instruments of death that resemble 18th-century firearms about as closely as a pudding cup resembles the Mars rover that keeps us trapped in this endless cycle of death. And believe me, I know that I'm not reinventing the wheel here. Everything I've said has been said. It won't matter. Nothing will change. That ship sailed when America looked at a classroom of children ground into hamburger and shrugged.

That said, I've long been done with your supposed right to own as many guns as you want. Do the math. More innocent people are killed by privately-owned guns than are saved by them. UNLESS you're a soldier or law enforcement officer or a hunter with appropriate hunting weaponry, you don't need a gun. I'm not at all convinced by the argument that you might use a gun to protect yourself, since that right has been paid for and will continue to be paid for with the blood of too many innocents. Oh, and, in the extremely remote chance you're ever confronted with a situation in which you could justifiably use a gun, the odds are excellent that you'll miss, shoot yourself or another innocent bystander, piss yourself, or have the gun taken from you. Then you die anyway. And yeah, I get that once in a while, a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy. Is it worth a blood-soaked massacre every year (UPDATED - every three months)?

I hate guns. I didn't grow up around them, but my family in Lebanon did, especially during the civil war. Sure, they had guns for hunting, but the ones I remember were the ones they had for war. I remember my cousin, who had fought in the war, showing me his Russian-made AK-47 machine gun.  He may have been sixteen years old. It scared the shit out of me.

I cannot imagine the fear that those people felt at that concert or inside that school or in that church or in that movie theater. Stop pretending you're Bruce Willis in Die Hard and understand that your childish fascination with guns has real, life-altering consequences. When I was twelve years old, on our first night spending a summer in Lebanon, I lay awake for hours listening to a gun battle a few miles away, and it sounded very much like what you've heard on the videos of the Las Vegas attack. I wasn't anywhere nearby that gunbattle, but I can still hear the rat-tat-tat of those guns, even though it's been thirty years. It's terrifying in its relentlessness, the way it burrows into your head (and remember I WASN'T EVEN IN HARM'S WAY). So I cannot imagine the ball-shrinking terror you'd feel if you were in the middle of such a nightmare.

If you want to protect your home, get a dog or security system. A security system costs about the same as a decent gun plus the cost of ammunition and the cost of time on the shooting range you'd need to maintain any level of gun proficiency (you gun humpers all do that, right?) Criminals don't want to break into YOUR house. They want to break into ANY house. A barking dog will send them on their way.

The Second Amendment sure as shit didn't contemplate weapons that fire bullets like lasers. You know it didn't. And in the end, even assuming it did guarantee an unfettered right to bear arms, even if it said, ALL THOSE WHOSE EYES CAST UPON THIS PARCHMENT CAN POSSESS ALL THE GUNS THEY WANT, so what? Aren't we better than that?

Aren't we civilized enough that we don't need to pay an almost daily blood sacrifice at the altar of the Second Amendment? Aren't we smart enough to recognize that these aren't your great-granddads' guns and adjust accordingly?

Don't people in the 21st century get to decide what the Constitution says? I mean, we let women vote now and we ended slavery, right? Back then kids died of typhus every day and today we've got two spacecraft that we built outside our solar system. THINGS ARE DIFFERENT is what I'm saying. For the love of Pokemon, if this guy had done this when the Second Amendment was first written, he'd still be trying to shove his second musket ball in for a second shot. But in 2017, you can shoot 600 people in 10 minutes. Stop pretending this doesn't matter or that the founders' original intent is largely irrelevant because of technology.

Why do gun-rights activists forget this part when someone says "hey maybe we need gun control," and they're all "POINT ME TO MY FAINTING COUCH WHERE ARE THE SMELLING SALTS?"

Every time you mention a possible regulation, something that might prevent people from being slaughtered in bunches (what kind of constitution-hating monster wants to stop mass murder RIGHT), the gun rights groups come at you with HEY TRUCK ATTACKS, HEY SHOULD WE BAN KNIVES - their arguments are so devoid of logic or common sense that it's befuddling. There are 300 million guns in this country. No one is coming for them - despite what the NRA wants you to believe. And the NRA - Christ, what a bunch of self-serving assholes. Here, read this opinion from a former Supreme Court justice and tell me the NRA is on the front lines protecting some ancient right, your supposed right as an individual to rise up against the tyrannical government.

And enough with the mental health treatment bait-and-switch. Let's put aside the fact that these same people are the ones who want to cut healthcare. But this guy in Vegas - no mental health history. No warning. He was a good guy with a gun until he wasn't. You cannot stop that. You can't stop a good person snapping, you cannot stop them if they decide to do this.

Call me a partisan, a pansy-ass liberal. A coward. But before you do that, close your eyes and picture that psychopath inside that classroom, pumping his .223-caliber bullets into those 6- and 7-year-old children, turning their precious little bodies into human rubble.

Picture that racist piece of shit murdering nine innocent people engaging in their faith or that wanna-be terrorist killing 49 people in a dance club or that other lunatic cutting down a dozen people while they watched a movie. Picture that young reporter running for her goddamn life as that psychopath chased her down and executed her. Picture thousands of people running for their lives in Las Vegas as a lunatic rained death down on them from a hotel room. And not to mention the invisible gun killings that happen every day of every year, victims of family disputes, domestic violence, toddlers, women, children, innocent bystanders, and so on.

Either way, it doesn't matter. So keep your guns, America, the rest of us just sit by and die while Republicans and their soulless NRA overlords dish out thoughts and prayers the way Mexican restaurants hand out chips and salsa. No one is ever coming for your stupid guns.

It's far more likely that someone ends your life with a gun.