too many guns, or too many bad people?
Another 26 people murdered, 20 of them children under 8 years old. 12 girls, 8 boys, 6 women. Place? An elementary school. Multiple gunshot wounds. Over 100 shots fired from 3 guns. Each victim shot more than once. The murderer? A 20 years old man who shot himself. Cold hard statistics. Sandy Hook, the name of a town that will forever share some dubious infamy with Norcross (Georgia), Chardon (Ohio), Oakland (California), Tulsa (Oklahoma), Seattle (Washington), Aurora (Colorado), Oak Creek (Wisconsin), Texas A&M (Texas), New York, Old Bridge (New Jersey), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Fresno (California), Clackamas (Oregon). And that’s only in 2012.
Previous to that Seal Beach (California 2011), Carson City (Nevada 2011), Tucson (Arizona), Manchester (Connecticut 2010), Fort Hood (Texas 2009), Binghamton (New York 2009), Carthage (N Carolina 2009)… and the list goes on until we come to some big ones.
Virginia Tech (Virginia 2007), Meridian (Michigan 2003), Atlanta (Georgia 1999), Columbine (Ohio 1999).
If I were to try to list the number of seemingly senseless mass killings (over 5 dead) in the last 30 years in the United States, I would run out of computer memory and depress/enrage every reader before we reached halfway.
In almost every case of mass murder tragedies, guns are the tools choice. And after each event, we can count on the predictable outrage and the just as predictable defense of gun ownership. And at the end of the day, nothing. Everybody’s anger mode goes up… an unstoppable force meeting an immovable wall. Stalemate.
Then the demand for the president, the congress to do something. All foolish calls. What the impatient needs to understand, is the nature of politics. It makes no sense expending political capital when you cannot make something happen. There is a time when the immovable wall will eventually have a weakness… and that’s the time to strike. Blaming the president and the politicians before that is futile. Strategy.
The Newtown tragedy has brought the question of mental illness into focus. This is something where politicians can get more traction. Many families struggle with mental health issues, or are have a few degrees of separation from someone who has mental issues. Also mental issues isn’t one of those intractable issues where politicians can’t find accord. So a focus on fixing America’s mental health system is indeed a good strategy right now when the cameras and spotlights are focused on Newtown. But I can guarantee that all will dissipate with the next Kardashian or Lohan saga. The American people have better things to do than a continuous focus on senseless mass murders.
But I think we are missing the most import thing, which is focusing on the United States as a society. Though I’m anti-gun, I’m beginning to believe that guns aren’t the problem… the society’s longstanding culture of violence is. But Americans as a people refuse to focus on this because they are part of the problem.
Americans are so self-absorbed and self-obsessed, they would rather not tarnish their image with the thought that they are flawed. This is a country where its people’s egos are so self-inflated, that they would do anything to be what they want, even if they can’t be it.
For example, while being reasonably thin is still on the wish-list of many women, their inability to physically meet their mark, has made them change the goalposts. Now it appears, that obese is now the new thin, the new sexy. Instead of going on a diet and exercise regime, they simply change the definitions.
What has that got to do the America’s maniacal obsession with guns and violence? Well, accepting that the culture in which they support , thrive and promote is the reason behind all these psychopathic and sociopathic behaviors, and then working to change that, is too much work. Its easier to shift the focus first to a non-living object, the gun, and now to living subjects, the so-called mentally ill.
The problem with the former is that the gun is a powerful tool for ego inflation. It makes men in particular feel big, powerful, even sexy. But since that is hardly a defensible rationale, in steps the 2nd Amendment rhetoric, “The reason I keep enough guns to arm a militia is not because they make me feel like a man, but because I want to defend the constitution of the United States”. Which American can argue with that?
One of the things that disturbs me about this society, is that whenever given the chance to be a kinder, gentler society, we are often manipulated towards just the opposite. As an example. We have often seen stories of better ways to run businesses.
Years ago, Americans were actually looking at the quiet way in which the Japanese, structure and manage businesses in a way that all parties, management, labour and customers benefit. After a very brief flirtation, BAM!, the idea was thrown out the window.
When the recession started in 2008, the media featured businesses that instead of resorting to reducing employees, incorporated the employees in the businesses, took their ideas and suggestions, went on stock sharing plans with the staff, and agreed with the staff to reduce hours so that no one got fired. Guess what? Production increased, the companies prospered and were shining examples as how to approach difficult economic situations.
You’d think that the ideas would be embraced. But no. Look at today. CEO’s, like a particular ‘never-to-be president’, like to ‘fire people’. What we have in this society is a meanness of spirit, despite what we often say about ourselves. Now, this doesn’t exactly mean that the American people are overall bad people. Its just that they are led to believe in this false toughness and machismo. But no one wants to say, “We are really pussies”.
I’m not going to be a social researcher here, but I think on the broader basis, the society as a start, needs to look at the amount of chemicals that abound in our food and medicines. I’m sure there is some correlation between the foods many people eat and their physical and even mental health.
I’m also very concerned with how over-medicated the American populace is, the side -effects of many of these medicines, how easy doctors recommend these medicines without thorough examination of their patients, the effects of taking multiple medicines some of which either increase the potency of other medications or create new issues. And lastly, how early kids are being medicated for ‘behavioral issues’.
One of the issues I have with proponents of gun control, is that whenever a situation as Newtown happens, they immediately start screaming at gun owners. An illustrative thing happened in a conversation on Facebook immediately after the tragedy. The proponents started screaming. A gun-loving guy, came on and his first comments were that he is now seriously considering the logic of owning assault rifles. Of course, the ‘gun controllists’ looked past this and started to attack his gun ownership. And the predictable result? You can guess.
Next time something like Newtown happens (and it will), I think we who support greater gun control laws etc, should just chill out. Give sympathy to the bereaved and chill. Let’s not get into this self-righteous frenzy. We do no one, any good. Let the tragedy settle, let the pro-gun people think about the enormity of mass deaths caused by a gun-toting murder. Eventually enough of them will call for change from within.