Either the dust has settled and the country has calmed down, or I’ve just not been paying attention to the media. Either way, it’s time to speak up. It’s been 8 days since the horrific events of December 14, 2012 and the reaction from the media has, as per usual, been appalling. Although I have already solved this problem, it seems that some of my 300 million readers in this country have yet to catch on. Very well, let’s go over it again.
It would be dishonest of me to say that I didn’t spend days pondering solutions to the apparent epidemic of mass shootings. I even found my own positions on gun control wavering a bit on the first day while my son sat wondering why I wouldn’t stop hugging him. Then I drank until I forgot I had feet and all was well for the rest of the night. Perhaps banning assault rifles would prevent crazy people from doing crazy things. At least it might lower the body count. On the same day as the Newtown, CT shooting, a man in China walked into a school and began slashing young children with a knife. Without firearms, children in Connecticut would have some nasty scars, but would still be alive. A ban on so called assault weapons might reduce the death toll, and a ban on all firearms would certainly lower shooting deaths by sick individuals who can only figure out how to obtain them legally. But it fails to address the real question: How can we prevent said sick individuals from acting out? The answer is terrifying at first. We can’t. Sick people sometimes do sick things. There will always be stories like this in one form or another. There is almost nothing we can do. However, since these stories put it into our heads that there is a psychopath in every neighborhood just waiting to gun us all down, nothing can stop the wave of ineffectual or stupid ideas.
The first solution that popped into my head was that of better mental healthcare. Indeed, better healthcare overall is the solution to many of our problems and, call me a socialist, but free universal healthcare for all wouldn’t be unwise. But in order to improve mental healthcare, it needs to be thought of as just healthcare. There are millions of people in this country with some brand of mental illness from the full on shit-crazies to emotionally crippled alcoholic egomaniacs like myself. The ratio of those who commit violent acts and those who don’t is so unbalanced that it’s hardly worth mentioning. It’s impossible to predict who will snap unless there are immediate signs of danger. So someone will always slip through the cracks. While taking better care of people with mental illness should be a priority, that idea has nothing to do with preventing tragedies. And in the meantime, let us avoid falling into the same position of the mentally defective NRA President Wayne LaPierre by thinking that the mentally ill should be on some sort of list. Perhaps an international database of people who should shut the fuck up needs to be compiled. The absurdly small-minded LaPierre made a stink with his ridiculous shopping list of every possible cause for the shooting except for, of course, the one that gives him a voice on the national stage. If banning guns would mean never seeing his stupid face on my TV again, I’m on board. And while my initial reaction was to consider banning certain guns, I was brought back down by the Black Panthers and modern technology.
Gun rights advocates, at least the intelligent ones, believe that the right to own and carry firearms is crucial to protecting us from those who are supposed to protect us. In 1967, the Black Panthers, tired of constant police brutality in their communities, began patrolling their neighborhood with rifles. They followed police cruisers and stood witness to stops to insure the highest level of professionalism. This led a suddenly very nervous government to start passing gun control legislation. I can’t help but consider that less than ten years before my birth, citizens used their second amendment rights for protection against a tyrannical government. Any idea that we would never need a means to take back power is put to rest upon that realization. And while I would be in favor of stricter criteria for obtaining a firearm, this country will never ban them outright. This of course means that there will always be shooting deaths in this country. In the meantime, we now have 3D printers capable of producing deadly weapons right alongside the thousands of Jodie Foster pictures we tape to our bathroom walls.
Reactionary policy-making is never a good idea, especially when it’s based upon anomalies. And not all irrational ideas are equal. In Texas, a bill has been introduced to arm teachers. While there may be seemingly rational arguments in favor of teachers carrying guns, lets not lose sight of what they’re proposing. Rather than limit who can get firearms, thus betraying a powerful lobby, we should succumb utterly to fear. Should we all stockpile weapons and canned foods, trembling in everlasting terror at everyone outside? Arming teachers is not common sense. It’s a fear-based policy with the vacuous purpose of preventing a lightning strike, all the while serving to convince our children that they are in constant danger of being murdered by the boogieman. “Mommy, why does Ms. Freeman carry an M4?” “Because at any moment, some psychopath could come in and blow your brains out, sweet dreams.”
Video games, music, and movies as possible causes never crossed my mind though I knew they would be brought up. Before you start pointing your finger at art, which has been a culprit since the time of Shakespeare, take a moment to ask yourself what video games inspired Charles Whitman to climb a bell tower. Which violent film caused the actions of Barnett Davenport? Perhaps Hitler was a huge fan of Drowning Pool. Once reality ceases to be more appalling than even the most obscene work of art, we can worry about video games and movies.
My friend over at AtheistSlut.com briefly discussed the silliest of all finger-pointing exercises: banning God in schools. To this, one can only start with the most obvious and factual rebuttal in that God is not banned in schools. A student can pray, start a religious club, even wear religious symbols. However, a teacher cannot force the students to pray. How oppressive indeed! We can always expect this brand of base opportunism from fringe religious nuts, but it takes on a new level of obscenity when it comes from a man who was horrifyingly close to the presidency. Mike Huckabee’s vulgarity cements his status as a squalid bottom-feeder, but far worse is that such backward dark age idiocy can make it onto the world stage. Curiously enough, God is almost never discussed in my home and nary a bullet has been fired in or around it. I would say that beyond my son’s Santa-like belief in God, we live in a God-free house, and yet, the only tragedy in our home is his fixation on Annoying Orange. A less polite writer might point out that while secularism, video games, and movies might have a possible correlation with mass murder, in that those things all exist in the same reality, God has served as a direct motivation for some of the most unspeakable atrocities in history. It would seem that an unbending, absolutist ideology does not a recipe for harmony make. But as I value politeness, I will leave that alone for now.
Tragedies will always befall society and make for a seemingly reasonable excuse to attempt legislation to prevent more in the future. We must be careful not to allow those in power to use such tragedies to curb our civil liberties. When a police officer is killed in a traffic stop, lawmakers introduce bills that erode fourth and fifth amendment rights, with the backing of a public too shocked to understand what they’re giving up. The events in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 spawned the single worst shift in civil rights discussion in my lifetime. Every brain dead slug with access to a keyboard shat out their deranged ideas of limiting free expression to spare peoples’ feelings. And while those in power exercised amazing restraint in that case, they seem all to quick to legislate against other freedoms. Allowing our appointed representatives to chip away at our right to keep and bear arms demonstrates a trust in our government of which I am simply not capable.
At this time it’s unclear what solutions will be concocted to combat sudden unpreventable dangers, but whatever it is, I’m sure our rulers and media will spin it in such a way as to scare the shit out of us.