8 December 2015
If God Won't Fix This Will You?
This is my second blog in a row about mass killings. Not until the Erawan Shrine bombing in August have I ever written about violence unless you count Thai people wearing colored shirts shooting and throwing hand grenades at each other. Our beloved junta has that under control.
I don't know about you, but I have had enough of endless and unnecessary gun deaths on CNN. God is not fixing this. Republicans aren't fixing this. The NRA isn't fixing this. Neither are the Congress, the President or the Justice Department. Fourteen people dead in California means 1,400 more Americans will go out and by a gun, and we will hear endlessly from The Donald that all Moslems should wear arm-bands with crescents and be confined certain neighborhoods until we round 'em up and do the unthinkable.
America is hopeless. I gave up living there 17 years ago. I look at the shameful Republican presidential campaign and consider beginning to tell people I am Canadian. The problem of gangs with guns, and the availability of firearms to people with mental health issues will not change in my lifetime. (My mother will be 90 next week. Unfortunately, people in my family live to be pretty old.) The Constitution will probably not be changed in this century. There are too many powerful people with vested interests in firearms, and too many people who are subconsciously (or maybe not) happy that guns are killing so many African Americans.
I would like to see a movement to restrict or end the sale of most guns start with the black community. Black lives matter, but they are murdering each other in alarming numbers. Sadly, however, no public uprising will probably bring changes to existing gun laws. An irate public could not end a war in the 1970s. Many demonstrated and participated in acts of civil disobedience. I went to jail several times for laying on train tracks to stop troop trains destined Travis Air Force Base, where the coffins were off-loaded and fresh troops were sent off to fight in Vietnam. Millions of vocal Americans could not end that war. Perhaps only when half of Americans refuse to pay income taxes will the Congress take notice that they need to "Fix This." You may be shocked to learn that there are more registered firearms in the US than there are people (112.6 guns for every 100 people in 2014 according to Wikipedia--not counting military and a multitude of unregistered weapons).
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate guns. Soldiers and police need them. And having one in the cockpit is not such a bad idea. But everyone else having easy access to firearms is a bad idea. We had guns when I was a kid. We lived in the country, where many people hunted, protected their crops and livestock, and shot the occasional rusty can. I learned about gun safety before I touched a gun. Ours were kept locked up and we used them on summer weekends just for target practice. (Friends of ours even had a cannon and we loved to blow holes in a hill about 300 meters away.) I hunted, but only with a bow and arrow and a Harris' hawk named Heroine. I shot a small bird with a gun when I was young and, as a result of the trauma to both me and the bird, I was put off using a gun to kill anything forever. The house in San Francisco where I lived for 25 years was across the street from a public housing project. I heard gunfire practically every night. I had a license to carry mace but never considered buying a gun to defend myself. The Donald and his gun-toting friends will argue that there would have been fewer killed in San Bernardino if there had been anyone at the party been carrying one. I argue that many more would have probably died.
Limited ownership of guns works---look at the UK, Australia, Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland, where private ownership of guns is severely restricted. Nobody probably misses them. Nobody feels they need to defend themselves. Murder and accidental death numbers are way down. Americans have an ongoing delusion that we are the most progressive, brilliant, democratic, nation on the map. Yet the rest of the world watches Americans in disbelief as we slaughter each other, elect idiots who do nothing about it, and rush out to buy more guns so that we can feel safe. Lets face it, guns are a drug. They are something people buy in response to a range of negative emotions from anger to fear, insecurity, loneliness, grief, and inadequacy--some of the same emotions that bring many people, including me, to abuse alcohol or worse.
What do I want? Here is my wish list:
1. A ban on assault-style rifles and a government-funded initiative to buy back weapons of this kind that are already in circulation, and an end to manufacturing the cartridges that fit these weapons. I can't imagine shooting a three point buck with an AK-47. A simple 45 will work fine if your home is invaded or you need to stick up a 7-Eleven.
2. A 500% tax on toy guns. The gun culture is learned beginning at around three years old. I had a teddy bear instead. Go figure.
3. Disallow anyone on a no-fly list from buying a gun. Can you believe that the Republican-dominated US Senate killed a bill that would stop this last week? Another good reason not to elect Republicans. We should even go so far as to prevent Republican United States Senators from buying guns. Guns are clearly too dangerous in the hands of people with mental health issues.
4. End registration and waiting-time loopholes for weapons purchased at gun shows and impose a 500% federal tax on sales of anything at gun shows except for popcorn.
Am I dreaming? Sure. Nothing will change until I drop dead twenty years from now, unless I get shot first.
So let's say some prayers, keep the surviving loved-ones in our thoughts, and have another candle-light vigil. Put flowers and stuffed toys on top of the blood stains. Prayers and vigils are such a waste of time, and do nothing to prevent a single death from gun violence in the future. Prayers and vigils have become creative rituals we have resorted to in order to absolve ourselves from being any part of a solution. God isn't going to fix this. What about you?