Forgive me for being late to writing about this tragedy. Like Dave Weigel I felt a sense of anger and resentment at merely recycling the other posts that I have written just this year concerning mass shootings, replacing “moviegoers” or “worshipers” for “20 tiny school children”. Frankly at this point I could just save time by writing a mad libs style template and plugging in the relevant nouns:
“A blank year old male today used a type of gun used by the militaryto kill blank number of people who were enjoying time at the public place of amusement. Officials in Washington believe that this horror, while tragic, will not spur any new talks concerning new regulations on the gun industry.
You know how the cycle plays out. The reports of the carnage stream out, then come the appeasing calls asking for moderate reforms to our gun laws. Then there are those dull bastards who insist that any talk about regulating our precious Constitutionally sanctified, shootin’-phalluses would be “improper” forms of politicizing a tragedy. The next salvo from the public square comes from assholes like me who point out the hypocrisy in the gun lobby’s insistence on ignoring the root causes of the tragedy. Finally some member of the evangelical conservative leadership says something deliberately provocative and idiotic, and the news cycle is distracted long enough for the merchants of death to escape public scorn and governmental regulation.
At this point those of us who believe in the “well regulated militia” section within the 2nd Amendment have two choices concerning what we should do next if we wish to enact the reforms that will limit the lethality of these acts of insanity. We could wait for these incidents to happen at such a rate that the aforementioned news cycle is never able to relent in covering them (one every four days should suffice). However if the idea of lobbying only when our society fully devolves into a perpetual motion machine 0f mass violence turns your stomach (as it should), the time to act is right now.
The power of the NRA is immense, but precarious. Their power is derived mainly from the instance of politically simplistic moderate Democrats in coddling our nation’s oppressed group of paranoid white men. In reality the NRA is a paper tiger, a well-tuned deflection shield for an industry that experienced record profits after 9/11 and the election of a black president. This is a business which profits from machines purposefully crafted to maximize the level of carnage that they can inflict, and yet has escaped even a modicum of oversight for their products. This is due to the beautifully crafted political strategy of excising money from gullible survivalists (by openly exacerbating the white male inferiority complex) while simultaneously defending their ability to earn their massive windfall through a strained and increasingly incoherent libertarian interpretation of the Constitution. The weapons industry has never been stronger and prepared to take on its ideological enemies, whether it is through the NRA or on its own, and that is why we must strike now.
The second term for the modern President is usually a disastrous mess of scandals, legislative failures, and a general miasma of discontent regardless of whatever “mandate” the individual supposedly accumulated through reelection. However political victories during this time are in fact possible, and we should be encouraged by the President’s willingness to act when pressed by a vocal and organized political group within his coalition (exhibit A: TEH GAYS). To put it simply, if you care about this issue you need to make your voice heard now.
Senator Diane Feinstein (whose experience with gun violence includes personally discovering the bodies of Harvey Milk and George Moscone) is pledging to introduce a renewed version of the now expired Assault Weapons Ban that she originally lead to passage in 1994. This is a bill that can only be passed if the popular revulsion to the sight of twenty tiny caskets overwhelms those who will attempt to distract the public and advocate for complacency. The President understands the moral implications of continually refusing to act against this sort of insanity, but be rest assured that the members of his cabinet from the Clinton White House would (understandably) prefer to let this issue pass without any real change to the law or the political calculus of 2014 or 2016.
So today, write that letter to your congressperson who will assume office in the new session. Send a copy of that letter everyday until inauguration day. On that day, switch to calling that individual’s office on a daily basis. Encourage your friends to do the same thing. Do not relent, do not just simply hand over money to the Brady Campaign and hope that they do their best (although feel free to supplement your efforts by giving them some extra cash as the have an established framework for lobbying).
This Christmas, yell at your relatives if they cynically insist that “nothing can be done”, that “we cannot ban evil”, or any of the other canned phrases from the NRA’s well honed talking points. Tell your crazy Fox News watching Uncle that his limited concept of freedom is fucking stupid and has lead directly to the murders of 20 elementary school children (not to mention the daily and lethal violence in Chicago and Mexico from which the gun industry reaps a substantial portion of its revenue). Civility for this issue ended the day that someone started spraying 2nd graders with the same weapon we give our soldiers in Afghanistan.
For those who insist that the malevolence exhibited by the killers who perpetrate these crimes are an intractable part of the American experience I simply say fuck you. To take comfort in the concept that there is nothing that we can do as a society to at least limit the efficiency at which somebody can end the lives of our children is the height of self-induldgence. And while we’re at it fuck you to the Koch Whores who want our children to receive Bonzai-Charge training with their physical education classes
I send a similar missive to those who predictably insist that MOAR guns are the answer as I happen to hold the radical stance that “liberty” is in no way copasetic with living in a state of constant paranoia or vigilance. Leave your Hobbesian fantasies on your Tom Clancy fan fiction message boards and let the rest of us feel comfortable in buying milk without wearing our kevlar.
A strenuous fuck you is also applicable to those enterprising politicians and pundits who will justify their own complacency in the coming weeks by targeting violent video games or other forms of entertainment. Consider that “fuck you” squared for those officials who, in the height of hypocrisy, might even insist on focusing public attention the prevalence of the killer’s mental illness while also refusing to make any reforms to our incredibly flawed public health system.
It is telling that on the same day that the United States saw 20 school children die from one act of gun violence, that in China a madman stabbed a similar number of children but was unable to end any of their lives. Those on the right employed the typical “SO ARE YOU GONNA BAN KNIVES TOO” bullshit argument, conscious of the fact that the parents who are right now burying their children in Connecticut would most certainly rather be changing bandages and doling out children’s Advil. It is in fact unrealistic to expect an entire society to purge itself of hate and violence after one disgusting incident, but addressing lethality is a variable that can in fact be controlled through the laws which we use to buttress every other aspect of our lives here in this country. Those who tell us otherwise are not only lying, but are profiting off of that lie.