Running Away From Guns

For years, when America was dealing with the tragic fallout of yet another mass shooting, we often heard the demand that politics be left out of it.

For years, when America was dealing with the tragic fallout of yet another mass shooting, we often heard the demand that politics be left out of it. That it was somehow dishonouring the victims to discuss politics in the immediate aftermath of this sort of public violence. This sort of request came most often from supporters of gun rights, who time and again would try to remove the opposing politics from the conversation, in order to allow their own into the fray. As the years have gone by, the shootings have most certainly not stopped, and the notion of leaving politics out of it has largely gone away. That’s not to suggest that much has actually changed. Rather, it’s just revealed what we’ve always known, that the arguments made by gun rights’ advocates in the time period where they would ask for depoliticization of the tragedy, are in fact, political ones. 

Most of us have sadly lost track of how many times America has let this happen. The cycle is so automated as to be heartless. Even worse, it all takes place with leaders and pundits straining to do their best performance. Yes, they care, they care so much, so, so much. Something must be done. This time it’s different. If this can’t get us to act, what will? Yet, within minutes, hours, days, the tired conversation blaming mental illness for these events, or video games, or music, or well, just about anything other than the damn guns that can kill multiple people in seconds of time. It is sadly fitting that in the aftermath of people running from guns in a Wal–Mart, or a downtown bar, or a concert, or a school, that those with the power and influence to do something, they too often run as far as they can from the guns themselves. They simply refuse to approach reality, for it is on that ground, where action would be demanded.

Instead, a game of pretend is foisted on America, cynically, at the same time as it grieves another unnecessary loss of life. Somehow, newsmen and Republicans can look right into the camera and pretend that maybe Americans are just worse at dealing with mental illness, worse at playing video games, worse at listening to music, worse at not praying in schools, than all the other nations that do not suffer more than a mass shooting every single day. The main idea usually presented by many of these people is that maybe there should be armed people, well, everywhere. If more people had guns, they could stop the bad guys with guns! The Stockholm Syndrome runs deep. What if the answer, were more guns?!  Now, there’s pushback, to be sure. People on these sorts of telecasts are there to say, wait a minute, that’s just not true, and so on. But, the goal is to muddy the waters, to allow the space for the talking points of outfits like the NRA, ironically while the newscasts laments their outsized influence on outcomes.

It’s the guns. It’s always been the guns. In Dayton, a particularly telling example of how the evasion of this takes place. The shooter killed 9 people, injured 37 others, including 14 with gunfire. That took place, despite the fact the shooter himself was killed within 30 seconds of opening fire. 30 seconds. 41 shots this man fired. In 30 seconds. Fairly, law enforcement involved in Dayton were time and again praised for their amazingly quick response. I don’t disagree about that specifically. 30 seconds is probably about as quick as such a thing can happen. But, that utterly misses the point. The point is precisely that all of this carnage can be wrought, all these lives ended, all these families torn apart, all these traumas induced on those who will have to live with what they saw, all of it could still happen, in but 30 seconds. It took only 30 seconds, to once and for all, end the argument that all that’s needed to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. That’s not how it works, that’s never been how it works. The scale of the damage done in half of a minute goes to show, this answer too, is just another obfuscation, another run from the guns.

Many in America are all too fond of running away from themselves. A mirror is their worst enemy, so oftentimes they beat the reflection to the punch, choosing to distort the mirror so as to not be seen too clearly. They don’t want to truly address the effect of Trump’s rhetoric on the state of the nation. So, they insist its more about his base than his heart, as though that would be any better. They don’t want to take account for a history of racism, so they act as though this is a strange moment, rather than the result of hundreds of years of hate. They don’t want to assess the violence of misogyny, so they demand the return of prayer in schools.  They struggle to admit they’re the only ones who deal with this daily, so they hope it will go away if they make it harder to play video games. One can hope, that somehow, someway, this time it will be different. But, it’s hard to be hopeful, when so much about it feels exactly the same. V

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