If you haven’t heard about the latest incendiary human who used an arsenal of firearms to blow away a dozen Colorado moviegoers as well as injure nearly five dozen more, then you must be living under a rock. And if that’s where you are, then if I were you, I’d stay there. That’s probably the last safe place in America.
In his own way, James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the Aurora massacre, is a terrorist. What else would you call a suicidal person who is capable of destroying lives in a public place? And thanks to the National Rifle Association, terrorists have America in their grips.
If anyone can have a gun, if anyone can have any kind of gun, if anyone can use that gun for any purpose, then we are all dead folks walking, our point of execution yet to be determined. What’s the difference between being gunned down by an insane PhD student or by a rabid follower of Osama bin Laden? Does the victim in the last gasp of breath really care about his killer’s mental arrangement or mission statement? Are we all potential victims of ticking time bombs dressed to look like us or victims of an over-powerful NRA, also dressed to look like us? Does it make a difference?
Is death by gunfire the price we pay for being able to live, if just briefly, in this democracy? Why is this country the most uncivilized in the civilized world? Why are we operating in a vacuum of violence? Why do we have to live, if just briefly, by the credo of the Old West, which allegedly died before John Wayne did? Why isn’t any other elected official beside New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg willing to grow a backbone?
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Mr. Bloomberg said during his weekly radio appearance, referencing day-of-the-massacre statements from both President Obama and Mr. Romney. “I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop.”
But it never will, will it? What’s going to stop it? Gun control laws? Regulations? Who’s going to enforce them? Those who didn’t make the cut for staff hiring at the Securities and Exchange Commission? And who will stop the NRA? Pretty soon they will have us carrying guns everywhere, even on airplanes, and everything will be so Sept. 10 again.
According to last October’s Gallup poll, 55 per cent of Americans want to keep the gun laws the way they are now or make them less strict; and 45 per cent keep a gun in their home.
Maybe when it comes to revolvers, we’re still evolving. Maybe like an extra toe, our need to have a gun at the end of our hand will eventually drop off. Meanwhile, we seem to be enduring the age of overkill. We now have weapons that have absolutely nothing to do with sport and little to do with militias. What can be hunted with an automatic weapon firing a hundred rounds, with any assault rifle, with a Glock?
Maybe there’s something to what Lorrie Moore wrote in her story collection, Like Life: “Guns, she was reminded then, were not for girls. They were for boys. They were invented by boys. They were invented by boys who had never gotten over their disappointment that accompanying their own orgasm there wasn’t a big boom sound.”
Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people. How about we start a National People Association? If you’re going to fight back against the NRA, you need to become a formidable lobby with strength in numbers and the ability to purchase or intimidate a senator or representative. About the only type of lobbying group that hasn’t been set up is a different kind of Citizens United, the kind that do not like to be divided and splattered. Lobby is power. That’s the only way to reduce the natural enemy to peace and longevity in the U.S. to the status of National Trifle Association. Let’s put people ahead of rifles and life ahead of death. After we beat the NRA, then maybe we can take on a bigger nemesis that’s actually causing even greater damage, like Goldman Sachs.
Meanwhile, I guess I need to wrap myself in a leaden bullet-proof copy of the U.S. Constitution and try to live the rest of my life in the U.S. under its protection until they pry it from my cold dead hands.
Arnie Reisman lives in Vineyard Haven and writes a column for the Gazette.