Friday, July 20, 2012

I Grow Weary

Each morning in the summer, I stumble downstairs and turn on the coffeepot and the radio.  This morning, I did as usual and then stood dumbfounded in my kitchen as NPR explained the details about yet another public shooting spree.  By mid-morning, as details of the shooting continued to unfold, word came out that the Obama campaign had pulled its negative ads off the airwaves in Colorado.  The Romney campaign cancelled some interviews.  Both the president and the Republican candidate released statements to express their shock and horror, condemn the violence, and call for prayers for the victims and their families.  On Twitter, some folks whom I respect reminded us that the tragedy should not be politicized.

I don't agree.  In fact, I don't see that we have any choice but to politicize this incident.  Every few months, our nation wakes up to some kind of horrible public shooting.  Columbine.  Virginia Tech.  Gabby Giffords.  Texas.  Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  And these high-profile incidents are just the tip of the violent, bloody iceberg that is guns in America.

While we politely wring our hands and condemn the violence, the NRA tells us that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."  Bullshit.  Just…..fuck that.  After the shootings at Columbine, I remember thinking to myself, "well, now people's minds will begin to change."  Now I realize that I was being ridiculously naive.  We have gotten to a point in this nation where almost no elected official will call for a renewal on the ban on automatic assault weapons that expired in 2004, for pete's sake.  How dare we have the gall to act surprised when someone who is troubled and mentally ill grabs up a handful of guns and randomly shoots into a crowd.  Of course this is what happens when guns are so easily acquired.

The second amendment provides for the right to bear arms in order to serve in a well-regulated militia.  Shooting into a crowded movie theatre is nowhere near participation in a well-regulated militia.  It's time to say that out loud; to shout it from the rooftops.  America, we have a problem with guns and violence.  And when we have social problems, the answers can be found in political solutions.  The folks at  the Brady Campaign know this; they've known it for years and they have some ideas about action we can take.  The rest of us should stop being so ignorant and start to explore some solutions.

Update: Mother Jones has an article about the number of times these kind of shootings have occurred in the United States.  It's chilling and you can read it here.

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