DEAFENING SILENCE WHILE CHILDREN DIE
Are we having fun yet with our national gun obsession? It has been a routine deadly game for a long time – men, women, and children getting picked off on the streets, in schools, in shopping malls, and at other public places in our armed camp of a country. This past week added more kids and a couple of targeted cops to the list, along with the “welcome” sight of some NRA dreamstud packing his own heat getting blown away in a Walmart by the bad guys who were quicker on the draw. The carnage beat goes on.
But now, more and more of this mindless violence seems headed to a school, shopping mall or pizza parlor near your. It has come home to roost in Middle America, the killing of white folks by white folks, so it is big news. It is even bigger news when the dead white folks are children. In fact there is so much recent violence that you may be losing the capacity to differentiate among the events and identify specific dead kids or groups of kids. I can assure you, however, that each parent of each murdered child will have no difficulty doing so.
In case you have forgotten the recent agony of Richard Martinez whose 20 year old son was gunned down in a California college town a few killings ago, try it on for size again. Read what he said and then watch what he said it, share his tears and get angry:
Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, "Stop this madness!" Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, "Not one more!"
“Not One More” would be a good slogan; particularly good if each one of us actually did something to make it happen. Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 kids and six school staff a scant 18 months ago, there have been a reported 74 school shootings in the United States. That works out to about one every eight days. And that is just the schools.
(For the full list, see http://everytown.org/article/schoolshootings/ )
This trail of violence even seems to have gotten the ever-dispassionate President Obama pissed off enough to point out that this brand of violence is made in America and perpetrated by Americans against their own supposedly precious young. Noting that America has no worldwide monopoly on the mentally deranged, he seemed to suggest the obvious – that it is the ready access to guns and ammunition that sets us apart from the rest of what we would like to think of as the civilized world. This should be a “Duh!!!” moment for even the most apathetic of the citizenry.
Ultimately, however, it is continued citizen apathy that really sets this nation apart, some collective sense that there is nothing we can do to get harm out of the way of our children. This is unmitigated nonsense perpetuated by the gun lobby and the corporate merchants of death they represent. It is apathy fueled by the notion that the inevitable prayers and candlelight vigils are a meaningful response. They aren’t, and they never will be.
We have to actually do something to stop the carnage. We can start by telling every cowardly member of Congress that we demand a nation free of gun tyranny and that we will vote this issue as vigorously as the right-wingers vote to turn their twisted version of the Second Amendment into a license to kill our children. Then, boycott every big box store and online merchant that sells guns and ammunition. Finally, take a real stand to make your child safer – tell your friends and neighbors that if they have guns in their house, your kid can’t play with their kid in their house. Most of all, speak up, do this loudly, and don’t back down.
Final Note: Here are some numbers to think about – in 2001, 3000 people died in the 9/11 attacks – in the wake of these senseless deaths, our nation’s leaders took the situation seriously enough to alter fundamental rights at home and to launch wars in two foreign countries, resulting in another approximately 4500 US deaths in Iraq and 2300 US deaths in Afghanistan. Four Americans died at Benghazi in Libya, and Republicans in Congress can’t stop talking about it. In 2010 alone, there were 31,672 firearms deaths in the United States (latest complete CDC statistics presently available). Yet, no war on firearms has been declared by anybody, and Republicans and their gun merchant friends block every meaningful effort to legislatively address the carnage. It is bad enough when our children die at war; it is a national disgrace when they die at home, killed by weapons of war.