The Apocalypse took place yesterday. Not the bullshit Mayan 2012 scenario — the real thing. For dozens of families in Newtown, Connecticut, their world ended at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And if anybody in the USA wants to talk about the Rapture, or Doomsday Prepping, they need to turn and face the small New England town where classrooms of children were massacred, and see what’s in front of their eyes. Then we all need to figure out how to stop this from happening again.
This post is going to be disjointed, but I don’t want to wait until I’m calm enough to write smoothly or dispassionately.
Last night a CNN reporter referred to “this unimaginable tragedy.” What a crock. After Columbine, and Aurora, and Tucson, and Virginia Tech, a mass shooting isn’t only imaginable: it’s predictable. Yesterday’s atrocity was at least the 61st mass attack in the United States since 1981. The Sandy Hook massacre was the second mass shooting in the US this damned week.
After Columbine, I talked for a long afternoon with a friend from Littleton. We agonized over the why and the how and wondered what we could do to protect our children and help our communities and make a difference that might stop such a disaster from happening again. But here we are 13 years later. It’s far, far past time to take serious steps to stop gun massacres from happening again.
Candlelight vigils won’t do it. Offering parents a catalogue of books that explain how to talk to children about the violent murder of their little friends won’t do it. That a list of such titles is available indicates that something is completely fucking wrong.
We have to look at some facts. Including the fact that the firearms homicide rate in the United States is 19.5 times higher than in other high income countries. Yes, horrible mass shootings and school attacks take place in other countries. No American should use that as an excuse for inaction or, God help us, to feel better about the outrageous number of firearm mass murders in the United States.
Saying nothing can be done is bullshit.
After the Dunblane massacre at a primary school in Scotland, the UK tightened its handgun laws significantly. No school shooting has taken place in Britain since then. Correlation, coincidence, or cause? Maybe some of each. Changing gun laws in the United States would be significantly harder, for legal and cultural reasons. But it wouldn’t be impossible. Or how about increasing the number of people carrying guns — would that protect kids better? Plenty of Americans make this argument, and in fact are outraged that kindergarten teachers aren’t strapped 24/7. Maybe that’s the answer: swaddling kids in Kevlar clothing from head to toe, putting combat helmets on five-year-olds, locking down schools with stormtroopers posted at every door, aiming laser sights and dum-dum bullets at parents’ heads until after the strip search. Concertina wire around the school entrance. Maybe that’s an answer. Some pundits and gun proponents advocate this solution. But is that the society we want to build?
Because the rest of the world, aside from maybe Yemen and Somalia, doesn’t operate that way.
Now is the time to do something. It’s way too late, but we can’t rewind the clock. We have to start today.
What I don’t want to hear:
— Don’t tell me guns have nothing to do with mass murder.
— Don’t tell me the Second Amendment settles the argument. It’s a starting point, not a solution. If you argue for the unlimited right to bear powerful firearms, you’re telling me that American guns are worth the price: murdered children.
— Don’t tell me the solution is to arrest Hollywood directors and video game designers. We can discuss the culture of violence in entertainment, but that’s only a small part of the conversation.
— Don’t dare tell me that this school massacre is God’s punishment upon America for the separation of church and state. I cannot express strongly enough my disgust for religious hucksters who blame the Sandy Hook shooting on the fact that the kids there didn’t pray to Jesus during class. Teachers at that school died trying to save the lives of the kids in their care.
The Washington Post has Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States. Read it.
It’s going to take legal and cultural change to start making a difference. It’s going to take a serious look at mental health treatment. It’s going to take a lot of work. But it’s time to get started. Before one more person dies.