Perversely, one of the advantages of America’s students having to study from home during the pandemic was that it radically reduced the number of school shootings. There was plenty of gun violence outside those empty schools to make up for it though — a whole other problem — but, thankfully, school shootings were zero for an extended period: bravo, America! The rest of the civilized world understands what America refuses to: the proliferation of guns across a society endangers every bit of that society. We’re the data set that proves their point! Alas, there’s little one can do to soothe a lizard brain aflame with the fear of mortal peril because Black and brown people live in America. Let’s be honest — every single one of America’s gun laws (like policing itself here in America) has its roots in racism or slavery. Racist paranoia is the organizing principle undergirding Texas’ new gun law — the one that makes it even easier to get a gun, carry a gun in the open and use that gun — as an 18 year old high school student did today in Arlington, Texas when he opened fire at Timberview HS, (so far) injuring four people.
Even as our news media trips over itself to cover yet another school shooting, they can’t make the leap to “why” it keeps happening. It’s painful watching our news media scratch its head over yet another seemingly intractable American problem, having framed the story for so long from the NRA’s perverse point of view. Australia used to be almost as gun-mad as America. But, on Sunday April 28, 1996, lone gunman Martin Bryant — armed with two semi-automatic assault rifles — killed 35 people and wounded another 23 in Port Arthur, Tasmania, a tourist town. Within two weeks, Australia — its six states completely in agreement — tightened its gun laws, banning semi-automatic rifles and shotguns outright. They also “put more hurdles between prospective gun owners and their weapons.” Want a gun in Australia? Prepare for a 28 day waiting period, a thorough background check and a “requirement to present a ‘justifiable reason’ to own a gun”.
The result? “The number of Australia’s mass shootings dropped from 11 in the decade before 1996, to one in the years since – the murder-suicide of a family of five in New South Wales in 2014.” There’s icing on that “reduced gun violence cake”: The overall rates of homicide and suicide also fell significantly after 1996. There are still illegal guns in Australia; it’s a problem they know hasn’t gone away entirely. But they’ve demonstrated the flip side of what we’ve demonstrated: fewer guns where they don’t belong equals less gun violence equals less death.
In other words, one plus one equals two.
I’m old enough to remember when the NRA was a “gun safety” organization. That was before they became the gun manufacturer’s lobby, determined to get richer than they already were by stoking white peoples’ fear of Black people. When dangerous muttonheads like these losers leave their caves, armed to the teeth, who out here are they so afraid of? Do they honestly think a situation could suddenly happen where they’re going to be the thing that prevents a tragedy? They ARE the tragedy — walking around, just waiting to happen!
Every gun — every single one — is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. Guns are all “death machines”, designed from the inside out to send a piece of hot metal hurtling through the air at a live target, the point being to kill that live target dead. Every part of the gun is designed to facilitate that. Sure, you can fire your gun at a non-living target but that wasn’t the point. Neither is a gun sitting in a gun locker. While that’s a responsible thing to do with a gun that you’re not using, you’re doing something with the gun that it wasn’t designed to do — sit. Guns are death machines. For starters, as they do in Australia, we need to ask: “for what purpose, citizen, do YOU need a “death machine’?”
“Because you’re paranoid” won’t cut it as an answer.
Our biggest problem with guns and our gun laws is that we’ve never been honest about guns or our gun laws. Hell, we’re living inside the NRA’s linguistic bamboozlement that turned a “well-regulated militia” choosing which citizens get to “keep and bear” arms (not OWN them — and “own” was a perfectly good word back then) into a “Have All The Guns Ya Want!” free for all. As written, the Second Amendment was about gun control; it’s right there in the words, no making shit up required.
Conservatives believe feelings are more important than facts. They’re paranoia trumps any facts you can throw at them abut violence. And just like they couldn’t care less if their own children succumb to and die from Covid-19, conservatives apparently couldn’t care less if their children end up in a stack of bodies recovered from a school shooting.
We used to take comfort from the fact that what stopped Russia and America from nuking each other and the planet into a permanent winter was the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Since we both feared the bleak outcome of one side pulling the trigger, both sides agreed in advance not to pull the trigger. The Republican Party is a death cult on a suicide mission — permanent minority rule or bust. We can’t rely on them for anything good or positive. Gun laws epitomize the Republican way of seeing things. From their vantage point? The more death, destruction and chaos we experience, the more they like it.