Friday, December 14, 2012

Guns (Redux)

Back in August, while vacationing at Cape Cod with family, I started writing about kids and guns. Or, more to the point, parenting and guns. I noodled around, trying to talk about how we institute sane gun policy with our child, because kids, especially boys, like to play with toy guns.

Now, on December 14, 2012, as I sit on the couch with my child while he eats Extra Cheesy Cheddar Bunnies and watches “Wonder Pets,” that essay sits unfinished in my queue, and 20 children and 7 adults have been slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut by a man with guns.

On Tuesday, a man with guns killed two people at a shopping mall in Oregon. Here in Minnesota last week, a man shot his granddaughter because he thought she was an intruder. (She lived.) On Thanksgiving, again in Minnesota, a man shot and then executed two teenagers who he says broke into his home. I don’t need to go any further back in time, do I?

Because America has reached the point where headlines such as this are necessary: “Mass shootings at schools and universities in the US” (emphasis mine) and “A history of mass shootings in the US since Columbine.” They don’t even try to list them all anymore.

One of the reasons I have not finished the essay is because talking publicly about guns and gun policy is a daunting prospect in this hysterical, gun-addled country. It’s like a third rail or, more accurately, a religion, where no one is allowed to criticize or question. The moment anyone brings it up, the NRA and various right-wingers go ape-shit, bark about the Second Amendment, trot out false equivalencies, blame it on gun control, and it’s all over.

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Fuck you, NRA, and the heavily-armed horse you rode in on.

People with guns kill people, and you can keep your bumpersticker mentality and bizarre interpretation of the Constitution to yourself. Your superficial, myopic sloganeering in your adoration of the Second Amendment is laughable, uncritical, and harmful. It hinders thoughtful discussion of our culturally complicated relationship with firearms. It distorts our history and makes effective, evidence-based public policy impossible. I have no use for you; you are part of the problem. Because you stifle any chance to approach this issue with sanity, facts, reason, and long-term thinking.

Sure, it’s not just about guns, but you won’t let us talk about the guns part at all. And, truth be told, your friends on the right don’t want to assist the mentally ill, talk about poverty, drug policy, education, or anything else that might help. And it’s not about better defenses or arming teachers or security at schools. Stop blaming the victim.

All you have is “No.”

So just shut up.

Your right to have a gun is infringing on my freedom to be safe anywhere, ever.
You’re done.

After today, you have nothing more to say.


No apologies, folks. It's time for a review of the evidence and a re-evaluation of national and state gun policies based on facts. It's time to address the cultural issues. It's time to talk about our national obsession with firearms and the Second Amendment. It's time to talk mental health, poverty, crime, and drug policy.

Past time.

Thoughts and prayers are one thing. I'm sick of them. Thoughts and prayers are not action.

Surely a great nation such as the United States can work to craft sane gun policy as well as policy that works on other related issues. While it is certain that every prohibition creates another underground, I believe that we can create a policy long-game that starts to create change.

Stop standing in the way, GOP and NRA. You have no leg to stand on.

You never did.