broadsideblog

A few thoughts on Newtown

In behavior, blogging, books, Crime, culture, journalism, Media, news, politics, women on December 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm
English: Photo of Harvard University professor...

English: Photo of Harvard University professor David Hemenway, PhD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a busy few days!

I did an interview with BBC’s Newsday, one with a German freelancer, and wrote two op-eds on this story, both requested.

For anyone who wonders how I get to speak out publicly like this, it’s a matter of relationships. All four opportunities came to me through long-held relationships with editors or these institutions.

I also, which I really value, am essentially asked to explain this specific example of American exceptionalism to other nations who find Americans’ attachment to gun ownership truly bizarre. If you have never visited the National Rifle Association’s website, you must do so, no matter how repugnant you may find their views. Their appeal is emotional and clearly, to its members, very powerful.

If you have no idea what they are saying to their members — and do not understand how organized and well-funded they are —  it’s more difficult to fashion any useful counter-arguments or marshal useful and effective opposition.

This section of it, the ILA, is well worth following, as it is their legislative action component.

It was challenging indeed to produce two op-eds within hours, knowing the subject is wildly inflammatory.

I want to read and hear more women’s voices on this issue!

While Rep. Dianne Feinstein plans to re-introduce the ban on assault rifles -- that expired eight years ago — I see very few women speaking out right now.

Not just grieving — but arguing loudly and publicly in every possible venue for change, offering their own ideas as well.

Here are my two op-eds, one written for a Canadian audience, one for Americans.

This ran in the Ottawa, (Ontario) Citizen:

The guns used in this attack belonged to a woman, 52-year-old Nancy Lanza, a middle-aged small-town divorcee, probably the last person many would expect to own five guns, including a Sig Sauer 9-millimetre pistol, a Glock 10-millimetre pistol and a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Why, asked one of my Facebook friends, an artist in California, did she even choose to collect guns? “Why not bicycles or butterflies?”

Because, for millions of American gun owners, owning a gun is as key to their identity and core beliefs as their support for, or opposition to, abortion. For some women, knowing how to shoot accurately and having a firearm in their home and/or vehicle, maybe even in their purse, also reflects the American ethos of individual rights and self-reliance.

And I added my voice to those of The New York Times’ on-line Room for Debate:

President Obama has vowed to take action, but to do so he needs to involve women. He should create, this week, a multidisciplinary committee — composed not of politicians whose alliances and funding have impeded federal gun legislation for decades — but of those most directly involved in gun use and violence.

Perhaps most important, the committee should include its fair share of women — both those who have been affected by gun violence and those who own firearms. Many women with useful insights into this issue are afraid to speak out publicly for fear of being vilified and shunned in ways that male gun-owners are not.

It might include: emergency room doctors and nurses; hospital administrators bearing the significant costs of treating gun shot wounds; law enforcement and criminologists; public health advocates like Harvard’s David Hemenway; moderate, concerned individual gun-owners; experts in diagnosing and treating mental illness; domestic violence experts; and primary care physicians and pediatricians wary of — even legally forbidden from — discussing how their patients may store their guns and ammunition.

Until all sides are negotiating at the table together — gun owners and victims of gun crimes, public health workers and private gun shop owners, men and women — a viable solution will continue to evade this society.

What do you think of this idea of a Presidential committee?

I think we desperately need new and fresh ideas, no matter how odd or challenging they appear to put into action.

  1. I think it’s a wonderful idea, but it’s going to need a lot of attention to get anywhere. So, allow me to reblog this, and then maybe more people will get inspired to act. Thanks for the idea, Caitlin.

  2. Reblogged this on Rami Ungar The Writer and commented:
    A friend of mine who works as a freelance journalist for several prominent newspapers and who’s published two excellent books, one on gun control, recently wrote a few pieces about the ongoing issue of gun control vs. Second Amendment rights in light of the Newtown Massacre. Here she offers one way of tackling this multifaceted problem while also telling women who are afraid to speak up to just go and shout from the rooftops their opinions on the subject. A great read, and I encourage you all to give it your consideration.

  3. You can get a committee together but they aren’t going to agree. The pro-gun lobby isn’t going to give an inch and the gun lovers here are so entrenched in this idea that they have the god given right to own any type of gun they want in the name of ‘freedom’ that they refuse to acknowledge the high cost of making automatic weapons so easily available to the populous.

    When a position is based on emotion rather than logic, how can one expect to make any progress using rational discourse?

    • Exactly, and that is what is taking place, an emotional reaction not a rational discourse. I will ask you…What law can be enacted that would change the outcome? The only people that will be effected are the law abiding folks that use there guns lawfully. It will only make things worse. Why do you think these people only shoot up schools churches and shopping malls? They’re for the most part safe, nobody to shoot back.

      • What law could change future outcomes? Ones that make automatic weapons more scarce. Can people with the money and means be able to find them illegally? Sure, but that does not mean that we should just throw our hands up in the air and let access to military grade weapons be easy as pie for people to get their hands on. There are a lot of lazy people in the world that aren’t going to go to great lengths, or even know where to look, for an automatic weapon if they were illegal and scarce.

      • Please read my op-ed and understand my point. My goal is to re-frame and enlarge this discussion to seek a broader set of voices in this conversation and hear their ideas and suggesstions.

        Passing laws is clearly not the only solution!

    • They don’t have to agree. They have to come up with fresh ideas that are not even now being discussed or considered. What we have now does not work. There is therefore no harm and potential value in gathering people to the table who are NOT entrenched as the people you describe. That is the old narrative. It is time to try to create a new one.

      Yes, it is emotional. We managed to get rid of slavery and pass civil rights laws. They were not emotional? A little optimism, please!

  4. The guns aren’t the problem, its the people that choose to use them. A gun is nothing more than a tool that can be used for good or evil. I can use the same gun that some madman uses to protect my family much like a surgeon can use a scalpel for good and a nut job can use the same tool to slit someones throat. It is not the inanimate object that is evil. So I will ask all those that want to take away my gun rights to protect myself and my family, as a law abiding citizen, what law or ban would have prevented this massacre of innocent children? If you can answer me that question, as a supporter of ALL Constitutional rights we can talk. The founders gave us certain rights for a reason, we need to think these things through rather than making a rash emotional decision that will forever change America and probably not for the good in the long run.

    • “The guns aren’t the problem, its the people that choose to use them. A gun is nothing more than a tool that can be used for good or evil.”

      An automatic weapon is the simplest tool people have to kill large quantities of people effectively, quickly, and without skill. Can anyone explain to me why any civilian needs one? If you can’t hunt without one than perhaps that’s just a sign you really suck at hunting and need to find a new hobby.

      “The founders gave us certain rights for a reason” They wrote that constitution before these types of weapons ever existed. Ever see how long it takes to load a musket? This wasn’t an issue that was on their minds.

      • First off the public does NOT have access to military grade automatic weapons. What we have is semi automatic weapons which means the gun fires each time you pull the trigger. One pull, one fire. An automatic will fire continuously until the magazine is empty. So lets get our facts straight. I personally hunt with a semi automatic shotgun and I defend my home with a semi automatic pistol. What is wrong with that? I even possess several semi automatic long guns. No. I do not use them to hunt but I certainly could and would use any or all to defend myself and my family, say against two or three assailants. My guess is, that if YOU were in say a crowded movie theater with you wife and children and some looney toon with a gun showed up to shoot up the place for whatever reason he had you would be most grateful to the guy sitting next to you with his Glock 23 after he pulled it and ended the madmans’ attack. If not then there’s something wrong with your thinking. As I said before, a gun is nothing but a tool, just like a scalpel or a hammer. I’ve been a carpenter for thirty five years, trust me I can make you just as dead with my hammer as anyone else with a gun if I chose to. This isn’t a gun issue, its a heart issue. How do we make people less violent? answer that and we’ll have something to discuss. taking away my ability to defend myself and YOU, by the way, doesn’t make anybody more safe.

      • “How do we make people less violent? answer that and we’ll have something to discuss.”

        Go ahead. This is something others can join in. When you go on and on repeating the same points — and please use paragraphs so your points are easily legible — you are intimidating others from speaking their piece. This is NOT the goal of my comments page and I ask you to respect that.

      • First of all, “My guess is, that if YOU were in say a crowded movie theater with you wife and children and some looney toon with a gun showed up to shoot up the place for whatever reason he had you would be most grateful to the guy sitting next to you with his Glock 23 after he pulled it and ended the madmans’ attack.” Yup because we should all be packing more heat than Rambo at every instance. Hell, while we are at it lets start carrying around grenade launchers and flame throwers just to be *extra* safe. I’d rather take my chances that a madman shows up at the movies than be surrounded by a bunch of people all carrying weapons. Why are people trying to turn the US back into the wild, wild, west?

        Everyone who is eligible for should have access to pistols and hunting rifles. No civilians need assault weapons or automatic weapons of any kind and no, they are NOT illegal.

        Also, a hammer is a piss poor comparison. You can kill someone will it sure. Try killing 26 people with a hammer in the same amount of time it took to pull that trigger. Guns are made to be efficient and easy killing tools. The hammer loses every time.

        If we want America to be less violent perhaps we should look at less violent cultures. Problem is, most of them don’t have guns.

  5. It will be interesting to see who answers you here. I’m not going to debate this. I’ve stated my position already.

  6. “The guns aren’t the problem, its the people that choose to use them. A gun is nothing more than a tool that can be used for good or evil. I can use the same gun that some madman uses to protect my family much like a surgeon can use a scalpel for good and a nut job can use the same tool to slit someones throat. It is not the inanimate object that is evil. So I will ask all those that want to take away my gun rights to protect myself and my family, as a law abiding citizen, what law or ban would have prevented this massacre of innocent children? If you can answer me that question, as a supporter of ALL Constitutional rights we can talk. The founders gave us certain rights for a reason, we need to think these things through rather than making a rash emotional decision that will forever change America and probably not for the good in the long run.”

    IMO, this^^^ is the problem. Caitlin floated the idea of a committee, drawing from people who are informed and experienced but not entrenched in political machinations, to explore possibilities. The question wasn’t should there be a ban on all privately owned guns, but that’s what you’ve responded to.

    My .02, yes, I think this type of committee is a great idea with real possibilities that could come from it–if we haven’t devolved into a police state by then.

    • With liberals that is what it ALWAYS comes down to. Banning something they don’t agree with. It could be salt, guns, even my french fries, you’ll see this will come down to a gun ban. Guns are the problem not the way people think. Ban guns and everything will be ok. Well it won’t because people kill people, not guns, they just make it sensational. How about bombs? Bombs killed I think 45 school kids in Michigan back in the twentys. Bombs killed a bunch of people in Oklahoma a couple years back. How about box cutters and planes into buildings. I don’t like what happened to those children either but your villainizing the gun not the people. Go ahead and have your committee, it will come down to banning guns because no body wants to touch what the real problem is and why. we’ve lost our way and no one has the courage to right the ship. So blame the guns, ban them and things won’t get better, they’ll probably get worse, but that’s what you’ll do. you have the votes, go do it. Next will be the 1st amendment, they already got rid of the 10th and 4th. Those that don’t cherish ALL their freedoms don’t deserve to have any.

      • This is about as far as I want to take your line of argument. I have been respectful but this is not a conversation you are participating in but an extended rant. That’s not what this blog is for. Thanks.

  7. Sorry if I have been rude to the blog owner with my comments. I get a little irritated with the rhetoric and today I was in a foul mood to begin with. I apologize and will take my leave. Feel free to delete my comments if you feel they might be disruptive to the dialogue.

  8. Here’s a good LA Times Op Ed from George Skeleton http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-73722860/
    As a licensed mental health professional, I think the mental health end of this multifaceted problem is not as easy as mental health treatment. What I mean by this is that well intended and good people, try as they may, cannot force someone to go to treatment. Generally, individuals diagnosed with personality disorders and other problems do not often agree to attend sessions. Additionally, the denial systems of family members may run deep. Even with a court order, therapy attendance may be hit and miss. Mental health problems cannot be solved in a day.

    Additionally, mental health and social services have experienced funding cuts in the past. I would be very interested to see how they plan to enforce treatment, and/or registration of mental health problems that would prohibit purchases of guns. The surest solution would be gun control.

    Personally, I always thought that buying a gun could mean that one day it would be used against me. (i can’t even look at them.) Unfortunately, that is what happened to Lanza’s mother.

    • Thanks for adding another dimension to this discussion. You know it well.

      I think it’s fairly clear from Nancy Lanza’s murder by her own child that she was probably in pretty deep denial or ignorance of his mental state.

      “The surest solution would be gun control.”

      With all due respect, what exactly do you think would work (better)? What sort of control? If assault rifles are taken out of the equation, are we all safer? I think not.

      • Firearms, within the context of this discourse, are an instrumentality…

        Or in other words, merely an enabling technology which – all too conveniently – afford the deranged an ‘enhanced’ expressive medium for nihilistic, ‘retributional’ and ultimately, intentionally self-destructive impulses.

        Ergo, when we ask, “What would be the better approach?” to eradicating these horrors… [and at the considerable risk of continuing to flog
        the proverbial DeadDonkey]…

        We must address the root causes, whatever else we do. One caveat…

        In the absence of a broad consensus… there will be no lasting solutions.

      • I’d take any consensus at this point, narrow or broad.

      • I like what the Aussies did http://usat.ly/UB5Vab, and I like Mayor Bloomberg’s ideas http://usat.ly/UA6rVN

        Other than the above, some thoughts are: we are required to renew licenses for driving our cars so that we are safe and not a danger to others on the road. I am required to have a license to practice so that the state is relatively sure that I will not harm my patients. Why not required registries and license renewals, at which time there will be a review and mental status exam? Failure to renew could be a misdemeanor, or felony?

        The governor of CT, said recently that assault riffle manufactures have ways of getting around some existing laws by changing the description of their products. This needs to change.

        After what happened Friday, how could anyone not want change? If the Aussies can do it, and get results, we can. A society must adapt or…

      • I think that’s a fair and sensible solution. I agree. I doubt the NRA will, and we’ll see if anyone has the political will or courage to even suggest it, let alone fight for it.

        I suspect a few politicians might have to fall on their swords. Will they? When and who?

  9. In my humble opinion, the problem is tri-fold. Fixating on gun control is a bandaid. We also must address mental illness in this country which is an extremely complex issue. I’ve worked with children with behavioral disorders. Again, it is my humble opinion that the problem is guns in the hands of the mentally unstable. Not solely gun regulation. Many crimes take place with guns which are stolen. Finally, how about the media hyping it up all the time? Mentally unstable young men are wanting to one-up the last serial killer in order to have to the “glory” in our media hyped society…race to the story and spew the “facts” even if they aren’t facts… and spew them 24/7.

    • Lots to think about in your comment. Thanks.

      I agree. I have very mixed feelings, as a journalist, at how much attention these massacres are given in that respect.

  10. Guns are part of our American Collective Consciousness, and intrinsic to our national identify. When the Red Coats were coming, it was the local militia, by virtue of having their own guns, who helped turn back the tide of oppression. Hanging on to our guns provides some sense that we can continue to protect ourselves and rebalance the power structure if the government gets out of line. The need to protect oneself is a strong one. Our need to own guns to protect ourselves is directly related to our trust and faith in the government to be able to – fiscally, militarily, politically, genuinely – care for us. If they cannot or will not, we have little choice left but to ensure we can take care of our own families. I don’t believe guns are the issue here. Upstream of this conversation is the issue of how we label mental illness, how we care for those who suffer from mental illness. That is the smoking gun in this mess.

    • Yes and no.

      It is profoundly American — and many nations find it insane — to so utterly distrust government and insist that owning a gun in your home is the answer to that mistrust.

      One could legitimately argue then — hey, no Social Security for government hating gun-owners! You want to go it alone, great idea. It might save the nation a fortune. No unemployment insurance. No Medicare or Medicaid. Or roads or bridges or libraries or schools. All of these are to some degree funded by and run by the government, yet millions of us place our trust in them every single day. I don’t see how you can have it both ways: loathe and fear and assume the absolute worst motives of government (projecting 200+ year old paranoia onto 2013 and beyond) while wanting all the goodies that local, state and federal government regulate (hello, FDIC, FDA, OSHA, TSA, FAA, etc) and provide.

  11. 16 small children and their teacher were killed in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996. At the time, gun violence in the U.K. was seen as approaching that of the U.S; people were becoming very worried about it. After the murders, the “Snowdrop Drive” was initiated, a movement to ban handguns and restrict firearms of all types. It was extremely successful and gun violence along with the murder and suicide rates in general have dropped significantly.

    A similar situation occurred in Australia when 36 tourists were gunned down by a madman, also in 1996, I believe. Like the U.S, Australia had suffered a series of these mass murders but finally decided that they had to react. Among other actions, that country initiated a “buy-back” program to begin getting rid of banned firearms. Their murder rate, suicide rate and gun violence rates have also decreased significantly.

    The evidence is seems to suggest that reducing the availability of firearms will also lead to a reduction in violence, period. However, there’s also the example of Switzerland, a country that, while armed to the teeth, never has mass murders or much in the way of violence at all.

    A presidential committee is a great idea because unless you start somewhere, people will forget and this will happen again; I believe that your ideas about the potential committee’s construction are also good. A committee of this sort needs to look at the information from Australia, the U.K., Switzerland and other nations. It would also need to set aside any concerns about asking for help from other nations – now is not the time for pride. Any formal dialogue designed to tackle this deeply divisive and corrosive issue is a good thing and needs to start soon.

    As I am Canadian my comments might be construed as interference, but that is certainly not my intention. What bothers me the most about this is that although you are a nation that is so extraordinary in so many ways, how you can also demonstrate such a selfish and shortsighted position with respect to your most vulnerable citizens is almost impossible to believe.

    • Not sure if you have read my “Welcome” or “About” pages, but I am also Canadian — which may be why I see this issue the way I do, as a social/cultural issue more than a political one. The two commenters here who have so forcefully defended their right to own firearms are typical of the kind of opposition that politicians will face.

      The provincialism that assumes no other country has solutions worth considering has been an impediment here, whether environmentally, financially or politically. The banks in Canada never suffered the terrible losses of 2008 as Americans did because they simply refused to offer mortgages to people who — imagine! — simply could not afford one. I agree with you!

      • Yes, I do know that you are Canadian – I was thinking more of the people who read your blog, and as you have resided in the U.S. for many years, you would clearly have much more of a stake in this than your neighbour who is sticking her nose in. Having said that, I think that most people, no matter where they’re from, are almost heart-stopped by the fact that most of the people murdered were defenseless small children and that there were so many of them; they want to see the U.S. take action, just as they would if a terrorist had flown an airplane into that school. To many foreigners, the idea that there would be a debate about this at all is completely insane – just go do it – amend the constitution if you have to!

        Having lived in the U.S. myself, I know Americans reasonably well. I have often noted that their Achilles’ heel is indeed their provincialism, as you say. They can be so stubborn and arrogant in their opinions and often in the face of evidence that proves otherwise. Part of the genesis of this problem is the fact that having hailed themselves (and having been hailed) for so many years as the “world’s leader”, the “world’s policeman” and the “world’s economic powerhouse”, it’s very difficult to accept it when you start to realize that you aren’t perfect. Like a Hollywood starlet whose fame and money has gone to her head and who then finds herself sleeping on a park bench, the U.S. needs to start taking a good look at itself, and especially at its actions of the last decade.

        Easy for me to say, of course, especially when we have problems too.

      • Starlet on a park bench. Ooooh, you’re good! :-)

        Thanks for such an interesting comment. Much of my frustration with the U.S. is its relentless provincialism, certainly on this issue. It will be interesting to see what Joe Biden’s new committee comes up with.

  12. Thanks for your insightful and well-informed perspective on the gun ownership issue. As an European, I find it quite difficult to even follow this debate after such a horrible tragedy. I’m always cautious what to say, or not to say about it around Americans. So i won’t add my suggestions here :-)

    • I very much wish you would, actually.

      The value to me of having such an international readership here — which I appreciate! — is hearing outside views and thinking stuff through, when possible. The more that Americans actually hear from beyond their borders, and on this hot-button issue, the better!

  13. Sorry, I didn’t mean to monopolize your blog site. I understand your point and I think it would be great if we as a society could actually sit down and try to understand why we are such a violent society, especially lately. i think the only answer is to return to the godly principles that this nation was founded on. I know that will draw the ire from most of the liberal leaning readers of your blog but since we removed everything that is ‘religious” from our society under the guise of seperation of church and state, which isn’t even in the Constitution. Reliance on God and being accountable to a higher being is the very fabric needed to be the moral indicator. That is what’s needed but that is what will never even be discussed. If not God’s morality, who’s?

    I remember as a kid reading the Bible in school, prayer time and reciting the Pledge of Allegience. Now that we’ve removed God from our culture, what is left to take its place? i think we are seeing what that is. i don’t see us going back to what made this country great, so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll keep clinging to my Bible and my guns.

    • And what do you make of the Jews and Muslims and Hindus that also make up America now? Is your vision of the country inclusive of those who do not cling to a Bible — or guns?

  14. Great pieces, so here’s my chick-view on the whole thing:

    Guns, bombs, left, right, mentally ill, legally sane-we have no discussion until we address fear. It is the one thing they always leave out of these discussions (or knock down, drag outs if you follow Facebook at all). No gays, no abortions, no guns, no taxes, we are all afraid of losing something we think is all-important, but in all honesty we usually don’t even have what we are afraid of losing in the first place. We like to fool ourselves. It feeds our egos the more complicated are lives become.

    “Oh Shelly, you have no idea how hard my life is right now; the cable went out and Stan forgot to pick up hand sanitizer on the way home from the office.”

    Hyperbole is American drug of choice.

    People here love to cite places in Northern Europe that have banned guns and have low murder rates. But they tend to miss the real reason those communities have such low gun deaths, or crime rates-even in places where guns are not banned, they are not fear-controlled populations.

    These communities have seen to the most basic human needs of food, shelter, efficacy, and a clean environment first. Their wellness and commonsense dominoes from there. They need not fear slumlord evictions, impossible self-images, mandatory minimums, disability, food shortages, or tax hikes because they don’t see every situation as Armageddon cometh. They just handle it. But to do that properly, they had to make the high-quality of human life priority number one.

    We are a banner country-we ban everything. We are a nation of over-reactionaries, totally absorbed with ourselves. We are so self-concerned that we fail to see that our rugged individualism does nothing more than leave us individually, emotionally stranded. We create our own disconnects and then wonder why we’re surfing paid programming at 2 in the morning, trying to decide if a Teeter Hang Up or Nu-Wave oven will finally tell us why the world is out to get us. What we never seem to do is the accept that it isn’t.

    We are taught to fear from the delivery room to the death bed. We thrive on it. It is so ingrained in us that we do not even recognize it. When we don’t try for that promotion at work, take up jogging, talk ourselves out of that delicious piece of cake, don’t call our mother, go to church, it is because we fear something (which is likely only what we’ve made up in our heads-I call it “screenplay thinking).

    We can’t seem to get it that we carry the only tool we ever need inside of us. A spine.

    Fear is at the heart of every violent act, every paranoid act, every anxious act, every dumb act we do. When we admit what we are afraid of in ourselves we can work from there to solve our problems. Facing fear is a cliché for a reason. The more knowledge we have, the less scary it is.

    What the average American needs is just a bit of aversion therapy mixed with a bunch of get-the-fuck-over-yourself.

    Let’s solve these problem by getting back to the right now. Focusing on the immediate eliminates any opportunity to create fear, which then turns into anxiety that becomes depression and if left unchecked evolves into bipolar, schizophrenia, even DID. Man’s biggest flaw is his ability to fear in the abstract.

    What is not abstract are the dead bodies we have in this country. It is 10:10pm as I write this-in one hour and fifty minutes, 87 people will have died by gunshot today. These 87 corpses are the tangible results of our American fear. The arguing over gun control is a symptom of fear.

    Be not afraid is advice mankind always gets, but never heeds. It is too easy to fear. It is easier to buy a gun and have that false sense of security than to just accept the inevitability of death and move on.

    If we want to solve our gun problem, we have to tackle our fear problem.

    Thanks for the chance to speak.
    leah

    • Whew.

      I agree with much of this. Here’s another unspoken piece –the vast majority of gun deaths (source cdc.gov) is black teen boys killing one another, usually in gang or turf wars and usually over the selling or control of drugs. You want a taboo topic? Where should we start?

      Educational apartheid — in which kids are “socially promoted” grade after grade so that 50 percent don’t leave high school? In which no one has any ability to read, speak or write articulately or persuasively? In homes where parents are working two or three minimum-wage jobs and have no time or energy to pay attention to their kids?

      The single most intractable piece of this I see is poverty, grinding, hopeless, why bother trying poverty. The social safety net here is thin, weak and a joke. The American fantasy that we are all meant to achieve greatness and wealth (hah) with no help from anyone (rampant, toxic individualism) flies in the face of $150/hr tutors for the wealthiest children who have a lock on educational and work opportunities from birth as it is.

      There is not only no “level playing field” here but an array of very powerful forces making sure it tilts HARD to the interests and concerns of the wealthy. That is what I see and that is what makes me despair. I see almost no collective will to fight for US, not just me-against-you zero-sum thinking. I hate that. I really really hate that.

      • Well the deaths of young black men seem disproportionately high when compared to gun deaths overall. However, their numbers when compared to the poor are not. Again, it comes down to why they are living this lifestyle, which we all know the answer to.

        Oppression can be traced directly to the fear of those in power that need to have power. Call me an idealist, but if the rich weren’t afraid they wouldn’t need to oppress anyone to give them a false sense of security.

        We have this weird mindset in this country about money, that it actually means something. That it’s a measure of personal value, but it’s just a scapegoat. it’s an excuse to fail, or not try. Money is a myth. It’s about time we got that through our stupid heads.

        I don’t think we can fix what’s wrong with any sweeping legislation, although I do believe in regulating the ridiculous.

        Throughout history the reason societies improved was education. personal knowledge about the self that spreads to social awareness and solutions. We need that education at every point on the social scale; the rich are just as complacent and brainwashed as the poor.

        So going full bore on knowledge is the best place to start. We need to quit waiting for government funding for schools. You don’t need a school to educate someone. When you let go of what other people think you are forced to find out who your true self is, We use each other as crutches to hold ourselves back.

        Guns say, “I’m afraid I am not good enough.”

        And unless we get rid of materialist benchmarks, this mindset will not die.

        To be truly honest-there will always be shitheads, so ignore them and have the discussion. Ignore the “ban all guns” and “give everyone a gun” poles, and just keep talking over them. Extremism doesn’t work, so why cater to it?

        Just like everything else, the backlash and whining will die down, and people won’t even remember we needed the discussion. Remember when seat belts were the end of the world? Yeah, didn’t matter, and lives are saved.

        Enough with the middle-management-make-everyone-happy plan. Just do what needs to be done and let ‘em pitch their fit.

        This isn’t about them.

        After 9/11 and Benghazi, the citizens of those places lined the streets with signs that said they were sorry for our loss even though they had absolutely nothing to do with the acts. Since Newtown, I have not heard one single gun owner step up and do the same.

        I’m tired of conceding. Fuck you, fuck your crazy-guns. Suck it up and get over it.

        At least that’s what I’d say if I were president.

      • In a laissez-faire capitalist culture, money is indeed the measure of all things. I agree with you, but this is the choice Americans have made for centuries. When they decide there is a better choice, they will make it.

        I am not holding my breath.

      • Apologies for the other commenters for the expletives. It’s early. I’m cranky.

      • As long as the expletives aren’t directed at anyone commenting here, I think I can handle it. I appreciate your passion.

  15. Frankly I don’t care one iota for American identity and its connection with guns. It’s such a childish notion that it’s hard to take seriously, let alone listen to respectfully. No one outside the closeted world of worshipping the so-called wonders of the US constitution has any respect left for Americans because of this. One commenter somewhere on the internet said that cars kill more people than guns every year but you don’t see people calling for them to be legislated against (which they already are!). That’s the level of inanity that we’re are dealing with in this discussion.

    This whole situation is not a question of identity and people need to get that out of their head. It’s a question of the difference between right and wrong. Because what is happening now is that each case of mass murder with a gun is forgotten by another one, and so on, and so on, and the only solution offered is to give people more guns to protect themselves?

    I kind of hate to say and think this, but after another slaughtering like this, has it gotten to the point where people are being normalised to gun violence in the US?

    For example, in Ireland guns, with the exception of hunting weapons – which are strictly regulated (I think ;-) ) – are iliegal. But there is no shortage of weapons in the country, mostly in the hands of drug gangs etc. These probably came from Republican paramilitaries before decommissioning, or they were just bought on the black market. All to regularly another drug connection or gang member is gunned down in the street, and the instances where bystanders are involved are limited. These murders happen in particular spots, and mostly in the capital city Dublin, albeit in particular areas and never schools or busy shopping areas. I don’t think I’d be going over the line by suggesting that people just aren’t surprised by these attacks any more.

    Yes that’s what I’m saying this kind of attack was awful but the way we’ve been fed story after story about gun attacks, each one worse than the next, this is just another unprecedented extreme.

    America calls itself a leader. Pah!

    • Well said.

      I wrote a book about this, and understand much of the “gun culture” intellectually. I think if there were no Second Amendment enshrining this right to own firearms, there would be much less of an issue legislating much tougher laws more quickly.

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