More than 60 people have been killed this year by “deranged” gunmen in America — nearly half of them today — and there’s still a couple weeks left to raise that number. I’m talking the kind of shootings where someone walks into, say, a school, and starts shooting. Not counting the deranged assholes who decide to shoot their whole family up because, I don’t know, maybe they lost their jobs and are about to lose their houses. Or the ones who get the bright idea to rob a store, then freak out and start shooting when it doesn’t go the way they think it ought to. Or the ones who just thought it was a good idea to shoot somebody to death.
If I were counting those, the number would be well over 10,000. The number of firearm related homicides comes to about 3 for every 100,000 in population, which ranks the United States behind such peaceful countries as El Salvador, Jamaica, Swaziland, Colombia and Mexico but well ahead of such uncivilized countries as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Qatar and Chile.
Of course, what makes today’s senseless bullshit more painful is that 20 of the victims were children. Actual children, in elementary school. None older than 10. But ultimately, that won’t mean a thing. Because it was just some crazy guy, y’know. A crazy evil guy.
And besides, and former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee reminded us, if you take away all the guns, somebody will just use a bomb.
If only those teachers had been carrying. Then it wouldn’t have happened. Just like in Aurora, Colorado, where if only theatre-goers had been armed, they could have shot down the black-clad, semi-automatic weapon carrying, kelvar dressed whack-job who opened fire on them in the dark. I can see teachers whipping out their guns in a classroom, can’t you?
Unfortunately, owning guns didn’t help Nancy Lanza. She owned three. The three her son Adam used to kill her and then go to Sandy Hook Elementary, where he killed those kids and a few more adults.
There oughta be a law.
I’m not stupid enough to say we should outright ban all guns, although I do agree with the sentiment. I’d rather we as a species would realize the futility of living in an armed culture and just.plain.stop. But that’s not gonna happen. Sadly. We’re just too enamored of our guns, and too scared to live without them, not realizing we’re scared because it’s too damn easy to get a gun.
It’s also too easy to decide that killing people is the answer to our problems, and too easy to pretend we don’t have any problems that might lead us to make that decision. Or that our neighbors don’t. Or our friends. Or our children.
We’ve got quite a volatile mix here. Mental illness is a stigma (or evil), getting decent medical care for it is next to impossible and guns are for sale at Wal-mart, while our politicians pretend that the National Rifle Association isn’t a bunch of crackpots with thick ties to gun manufacturers and regressive racists who fear we’re headed toward a New World Order. Hell, the NRA opposes legislation to require gun owners to report it if their weapons are lost or stolen.
Meanwhile, our children are targets in their schools, teenagers going to the movies are targets in their theater seats and mothers who own semi-automatic weapons are the first ones to go down.
I’m sure we’ll see a rash of metal detectors and armed guards in schools now, because that’s such a better answer than actually looking at the very real problems we have in this country. We’re awfully good at the bandaid method of problem solving, which is to say we never actually solve the problem because we never actually address it. That would require much deeper thinking, much more painful soul-searching than we’re willing to do.
Like, for example, why the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s people, owns nearly 50 percent of its guns. And to what “well-regulated militia” Nancy Lanza belonged that she had those guns her son so easily confiscated for his own use.
Now there’s a culture war at which we really should be taking a closer look.