Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thoughts on the mass shooting

I was going to start this post with something along the lines of :

'As a parent, I can't help but have strong feelings about what happened today.'

But then it dawned on me, it shouldn't fucking matter if you're a parent or not.  Any right minded human being should have some strong feelings and emotions about the mass killing of 27 people today.  Like many other people my first reactions upon hearing the news went something like this.

"Oh what the fuck!  Not again.  Holy shit!  God damn!  Kids!  No! No! No! No!  Not kids!  Please no.  My God, they were kindergarteners!  Oh please.  No.  Where is Annabelle?  I need to kiss Annabelle.  I need to hold Annabelle.  Oh God.  What is wrong with the world?  Guns.  Fucking Guns!"

That probably went on for about 20 minutes or more.  Just a semi-coherent stream of thoughts alternating between anger, sadness, disbelief, frustration, anger, confusion, anger, anger, sadness.

Once my mind settled down I started getting angry in a more coherent and logical way.  Angry because of all the media calls 'not to politicize' this shooting.

"Now is not the time for that kind of discussion."
"We must share strength and prayer with all the families who are suffering."

I'm sorry but that's just bullshit.  If the moments after the second worst mass shooting in this country isn't the time to start a coherent dialogue about how we get assault rifles and other weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable, then I don't know when is.  No amount of my prayers and thoughts are bringing those 27 people back.  No amount of my positive healing energy is going to comfort those parents who's entire world just ended.  I can't even begin to fathom the pain of the parents.  I don't even want to try.  So, instead, I want to focus on trying to do whatever is possible to prevent the next tragedy.  I don't ever want to have to know that another parent has to bury their baby because of our gun obsessed culture.

And for the record, when someone says 'I don't want to politicize the situation' that's just code for 'I don't want to use this tragedy to spur legitimate support for reasonable gun control laws and thus I'm going to pretend that gun control advocates are all cold hearted assholes.'  This is the most political comment a person can make.

Our culture is profoundly flawed in the way we view guns and violence.  Guns are idolized.  They have become emblems of strength, virility, freedom, safety, and dominance.  Guns are sexuality, fetishized, and worshiped.  Through our TV shows, our games, and our media, American citizens are unconsciously taught that guns are good, guns are protection, and guns are power.  This false fabrication and aggrandizement of guns thus limit our ability to introduce and conduct a sane and reasonable national dialogue about rationale gun control.  In the minds of those who own guns, questioning the accessibility of AK-47s isn't a matter of questioning a mechanical object, it is interpreted as an assault on the principles of strength and freedom.  It is for this reason that no progress can be made to limit gun access until we collectively begin to shift our interpretation of guns.  Instead of view a gun as a physical manifestation of intangible founding principles, we must begin to show guns for what they are; mechanical death machines akin to poison gas, bombs, and even an executioners noose.

Have you ever used a gun?  I have.  A friend took me shooting one day.  I wasn't really excited about the trip but given that I live by the motto 'I'll try anything once.'  I went along for the ride.  Holding the gun in my hand was profound.  They are way heavier than you'd imagine.  Solid, cold, dense.  I purchased a clip of bullets - one for a regular pistol and one for a semi-automatic Glock.  The first shot shocked and scared me. I was not prepared for the amount of violent force that was unleashed from the barrel.  It disturbed me profoundly.  I shot a few more rounds and then I stopped.  I had no desire to empty out the rest of the clip.  I let my friend finish my round.  I had no desire to become familiar with the violence and hatred spewing out of the end of that gun.  I did not want to be there.  A shooting range meant to serve as a training ground to hone my violence skills.  I waited outside until everything was over.

Have you ever had a gun shoved into the side of your head?  I have.  I was kidnapped in Malaysia a few years back.  I don't think the kidnappers wanted anything more than to clean out my bank accounts (which they did).  However, as an intimidation mechanism they had a gun and they wanted me to know that they would have no problem using the gun if I didn't cooperate.  At the end of the day I walked away from the situation physically and emotionally unscathed but I did gain a profound awareness of the sheer violence and evil that every single gun manufactured represents.

Guns are meant to do one thing.  Profoundly harm or kill a person.  I acknowledge that they serve a purpose in some aspects of society.  However, very few people should have access to a tool that minimizes death to an afterthought.

I pray for the families who have no babies to tuck into bed tonight or those who will lay in bed tonight and see a gaping emptiness beside them.  I know my prayers will not comfort them.

We must do something now to change the dialogue in our country.  We must work now to save the lives of future victims of senseless gun violence.


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