Leave it to The Onion to publish the definitively cynical, black humor journalistic piece on the Aurora theatre shooting. It was so funny it wasn’t.
According to the nation’s citizenry, calls for a mature, thoughtful debate about the role of guns in American society started right on time, and should persist throughout the next week or so. However, the populace noted, the debate will soon spiral out of control and ultimately lead to nothing of any substance, a fact Americans everywhere acknowledged they felt “absolutely horrible” to be aware of.
With scalpel-like precision, the American populace then went on to predict, to the minute, how long it will take for the media to swarm Aurora, CO, how long it will take for them to leave, and exactly when questions will be raised as to whether or not violence in movies and video games had something to do with the act.
The Onion did leave out the teddy bear and flower memorial at the theatre. And of course, it wasn’t violence in movies and video games my colleagues obsessed over. This time, they got down to the gun control battle almost immediately, with the usual, emotion-driven, completely unreasonable results.
Can’t we just mourn the tragedy without one side immediately blaming lax gun laws and the other, equally quickly, calling for more concealed weapons in public?
asked one of my colleagues on Facebook, and the answer was quickly clear, from another: “No, we cannot.”
Well, I know one cable television news anchor who wouldn’t take part in the usual bullshit. Will McAvoy. Will McAvoy would be sensitive to the victims in the tragedy and still not get bogged down in the either/or, emotionally charged garbage that passes for news in this country anymore.
Yeah, Will McAvoy, my beloved colleagues. The guy on Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show The Network that you keep laughing about. Nervous laughter maybe? Because you are the very ones decrying the bullshit that the fictional McAvoy is taking head on. The bullshit that you complain loudly about and never lift a finger to stop.
Hey, I know it’s hard. You’ve got Jane Fonda to think about. Oh, wait. Jane Fonda would be right with you if you really wanted to change things. It’s Fonda’s character on The Newsroom who worries about the money. And threatens to get rid of employees who won’t play the game.
See, here’s the thing. Sorkin, who is not a pleasant fellow but nevertheless does entertaining television, doesn’t give us real life. I’m sure none of you think The West Wing was remotely true to life. It was idealized, the same way The Newsroom is idealized. It’s what we wish would happen but not a damn one of us will do anything to create.
So I’m gonna go out on the proverbial limb here and talk about this like I think Will McAvoy would, and Will — he wouldn’t shy away from the gun arguments.
But he also wouldn’t get into the he said/she said of the pro and anti gun lobbies. Neither will I. Full disclosure: I do not like guns. I do not own one, and I won’t own one. I do not hunt, and I am not so afraid that I feel I must protect myself with a weapon that is much more likely to end up hurting me or someone I love than anyone else. I have fired guns, however, and am a pretty good shot. But I’m older now, and wiser. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns do.
The United States has a pretty high per capita of gun murders, suicides and accidental deaths. It’s significantly lower than, say, South Africa or Colombia, but only slightly below Mexico, and way higher than a whole bunch of countries that have sane gun laws.
Sane gun laws like people should not be able to buy assault weapons. For what earthly reason do you need an assault weapon? It is not a hunting rifle. And 6,000 rounds of ammunition? Seriously? It’s even easier to buy ammo, y’know, than a gun. Except maybe in Colorado or Texas. Obviously. That picture, by the way, is of a couple of SWAT dudes with AR-15 assault rifles and 90-round drum magazines. The Aurora shooter had 100-round drum magazines.
I don’t begrudge anybody who wants to buy a gun for protection, although I do think you shouldn’t oughta do it. I think we need fewer guns, not more guns. We have too many already, and it’s not helping. But no, I’m not for laws banning guns. We need to turn away from them voluntarily.
So naturally, after this tragedy in Colorado, I waited patiently until someone said
If more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns, this guy might have thought twice.
Or at least less innocent people would have been hurt.
Actually, the correct word is “fewer.” Fewer innocent people. Less innocent people — well, maybe the writer actually did mean that — as in, maybe the shooter is “less innocent” than the other people — but I really don’t think so.
Either way, it’s absolutely wrong, unless the “sane, law-abiding citizens” carrying the guns were special ops forces, trained to work against some dude in a gas mask who tossed tear gas into a darkened theatre and then proceeded to use multiple weapons, including the aforementioned assault rifle and its drum cartridges.
No, if “more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns” at that theatre, there’d be a lot more people dead.
But we won’t talk about sane gun laws. We’ll talk about either/or. We should have no gun laws or no guns. Yeah, I’m all for no guns, but not laws to make it so. Just sane laws to keep some of the crazy shit out. But it’s so much more fun and emotional to take extreme ends and pit them against each other on network news. And that’s what the news has become. Emotional appeals. Scare people. Freak them out. Make them cry. But for god’s sake don’t temper that with any rationality.
Yeah, temper it. Not overcome the emotion with impeccable reason. That’s the problem here — and it’s why people like James Holmes and that guy at Virginia Tech go all batshit and shoot up people. It’s simple: We don’t know how to balance emotion and reason. We think it’s supposed to be either/or, and it’s not.
And here, we typically think of emotion as something less — y’know, women are more emotional, and women aren’t as important or valuable as men, who are so much more rational. But what happens when you suppress your emotional side and do nothing to integrate it with your rational side?
You shoot up a movie theatre. Or overdose on drugs. Or become an alcoholic. Or beat your wife. Or kick a puppy. Or put on weird make-up and wear black all the time. Because sooner or later those icky old emotions will show up. Or Wolf Blitzer and a bunch of politicians will punch your buttons and your insides will open up and they’ll just spill out.
We need to learn that heart and mind are the same thing, not two different “parts” of us that can never be reconciled. They ARE reconciled. We’re the ones who keep forcing them apart.
Cuz when you let them be the same … you focus like a laser. You’re unstoppable.
Just ask Will McAvoy.