After Newtown

Being in front of the computer all day Friday, watching the day’s events unfold, was awful. The situation just kept getting worse and worse, the number of victims higher and higher. There was plenty of misinformation going around, but the simple, important fact was clear: someone had gone into a school and murdered young children.

Before long, the Internet exploded in outrage and talking points. On the one hand we had people like me venting our frustration that yet again innocent lives had to be sacrificed on the altar of guns. And on the other hand we had:

Now is not the time to talk about gun control! Yes and no. You’re correct, now is not the time to have a serious discussion of gun violence; that time was a ton of times in the past, when we also opted not to do it. But barring that, this is the second-best time to do so, as it’s as soon as possible, when we stand a chance at preventing further massacres. (Not “tragedies”…”tragedies” implies something that’s out of our hands. This was preventable and we chose not to do so.)

I’ve never heard anyone who says “now is not the time” suggest a good time. They don’t say this out of any kind of respect for the victims or families, it’s simply to shut the discussion down. In fact, thanks to this attitude, it’s not like we’ll get much of a breather since the next completely preventable assault is right around the corner, and that too will not be the time to talk about it.

Let’s not politicize the event. When children are mass-murdered with guns, talking about gun control is not politicizing the issue. What is politicizing the issue is talking about school prayer. Or abortion. Or displaying the Ten Commandments. Or saying “Merry Christmas”. Or taxes. Or any other number of unrelated pet issues you want to trot out instead of talking about guns. When a house just burned down, fire safety is not political grandstanding, it’s appropriate. Again, the goal here is to suppress any and all discussion right out of the gate.

Anything can be a weapon in the wrong hands. That’s true, but I think we can assume that, had the weapon of choice been a nine-iron or pipe wrench, things would probably have unfolded differently. A maniac with a knife or club is dangerous, but not as dangerous as one with an assault rifle. Guns are not innocent devices used as weapons, they are weapons. They have no purpose other than to propel bullets at high speeds in order to cause mortal damage. Pretending that they’re in the same group as cars or scissors is disingenuous at worst and hopelessly naive at best.

This isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue. Partial credit. The issue is that mentally unstable people have easier access to guns than health care, that’s true. But many of the people saying this have no follow-up for it. This is a country that resents giving physical health care to people but now we’re going to give folks mental health care? When we don’t even take mental health care seriously? I can’t for the life of me imagine that the same government fighting tooth and claw against “socialized medicine” is going to step forward and say, “You know, we need to do what we can to get these people help.” I would in fact say there is less chance of any kind of meaningful mental health care policy being enacted than there is of some token gun control effort, and I think the latter is pretty far away.

The teachers should have been armed. Let me see if I’m following. School teachers, who already are seen as parasitic leeches on society unless they shut up and agree to raise our children for pennies are now going to also be secret service agents, trained to take down armed threats against their charges? Who’s going to buy guns for all these teachers? Who’s going to pay for them to get weapons training? Or is that supposed to come out of their pockets too, as is expected for basic supplies? Already a population who complains about schools complains even louder when those schools ask for funding, and now we’re going to supply handguns and training and certification as well? But of course, armed teachers are only a subset of

Everyone should be armed and prepared to take out threats. The “more guns = more safety” solution. The US already has over 300 million guns. Is that not enough to make us all safe? Will another 100 million do it? Note that the population of the US is 315 million. If nearly one gun per person isn’t enough to keep schoolchildren safe, how many do we need?

In fact, given all the folks who popped up to say they were bad enough dudes to have taken out the gunman in one shot, pow, end of problem, I’m surprised we have any gun violence in this country. Apparently every other bro out there is a Jason Bourne, ready for the moment when he has to spring into action against the bad guys. Yet they never seem to be in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or elementary schools at exactly the right time. Maybe our gyms and GameStops are better patrolled. The beauty of this is how it casually implies that it’s all the victims’ fault for not being jacked-up vigilantes like whoever is making this inane statement.

(After the Aurora shooting I was even less inclined than usual to go into a movie theater. My fear wasn’t a copycat killer but of accidentally dropping my soda and startling thirty Bernie Goetzes packing heat and ready to leap into action.)

All the other usual bullshit. You know the lines. You can find them debunked here and here.

It’s disgusted me these past few days not just that this country can give someone the opportunity and freedom to mow down small children with automatic weapons, but that we will then proudly stand up and say, loudly, anything we can to ensure that nothing ever prevents it from happening again. We are a nation that loves its guns more than its children, that values the dream of white conspiracy kooks overthrowing the UN over the dream of a month going by where there isn’t some ridiculous gun assault. We’ll get up in arms about video games, rap music, homosexuality, secular humanism, and such, but devices designed only to kill people are sacred and untouchable, and certainly not any kind of thing we should regulate.

I don’t believe we’re going to do anything more than a basic, token effort of gun control here, and it will be fought every inch of the way to make sure it doesn’t change anything. A bill or two will be proposed and will be shot down over “concerns” of one kind or another (few to none of which will even be reasonable, legitimate concerns) and then we’ll just go on to the next senseless massacre, to the next group of innocents whose blood fuels this disgusting nation’s paranoid fantasies.

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