It is highly likely that this person is hallucinating and will tell you the sky is iridescent green or maybe yellow. It is this type of a-political thinking that gets us Americans into trouble time and time again. Everyone seems to think that the real danger to American democracy is the polarization of the parties. False. The real danger is the floaters in the middle who really have no clue what is going on in their own backyards. Why are they dangerous? Because their vote counts just as much as everyone else’s but they can’t see the forest for the trees. Tragedies like Newtown, Columbine, everyday in Chicago, the Trayvon Martin case, and the killing of Jordan Davis are indeed a cultural problem. We have an extremely violent culture which glamorizes rape, murder, crime, and deviance. But, since when are politics and culture mutually exclusive?
I was taken aback by the number of tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media messages that I saw in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. You may have heard by now but, on Friday, a gunman, now identified as Adam Lanza, armed with 2 military grade hand guns and over 100 rounds of ammunition, unleashed a fury of wrath on an elementary school this morning killing at least 28 people including himself. Twenty of those killed were small children. He was said to have mental ailments. A few months ago, a gunman killed and injured 70 movie watchers in Colorado. And over the years, we have heard countless stories of single gunmen shooting college kids, churchgoers, and the like. And, at no point have gun laws gotten any stricter. But this is not a political issue?
When asked about this event, President Obama was apprehensive to immediately call for gun control measures.
“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this regardless of the politics.”
But, his choked up presence made it very clear that he too understood the gravity of this situation. It is the duty of his office and his peers in Congress to “take meaningful action” and while everyone continues to sit on their political hands, innocents continue to be shot down by gunmen. The overwhelming aversion to “politics” is due to the negative partisan politicking that we have all become far too accustomed to. But, this doesn’t have to be our legacy. And, the President’s call makes it extremely plain that these political actors know exactly what needs to be done. Anything else is just pretense.
Why This Can Only Be a Political Issue
Some have said that times like these need prayer. I myself am a Christian and find this response to be wholly inadequate. I believe ALL situations in life, whether good or bad, need prayer. But, to think that our civic duty in times like these is to pray is yet another reason why we are facing these issues right now. Imagine, you see an accident on the side of the road and 12 other people see it too. What would you all do under this prayer prescription? Well, you’d all go home and pray. Privately, in the safety of your own homes, you would simply pray. No one would call the police or pull over to the side of the road. No one would check to see if there were survivors in the car. No one would lend an actual, physical helping hand to those in the most need. You know, the victims. It suffices to say that sending additional messages up to your individual deity would not save anyone’s life if said person were in imminent danger. So, why is it consistently recommended as a long term solution?
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Under this law, a “well regulated militia” can bear arms. Last time I checked, there were no wars being fought on American soil. So, whom exactly is this militia fighting to protect? And, how many people are they expecting to “protect” themselves from if they are stocking up on machine guns and an arsenal of assault weapons? Really? This is not Call of Duty. There is literally no purpose for a machine gun in a civilian’s household. Period. And, the only way to thwart further proliferation of assault weapons is through ample, well-thought out gun policy. You know, public policies. They are the nice things that give order to society. They guarantee that people will all drive the same direction on the road or risk being punished in a court of law. They ensure that kids have the right to go to school and not be beaten up by their teachers. They do great things for us. So, why can’t we tighten them on guns when we can clearly see we have a problem controlling ourselves?
Calls for Humanity ≠ Calls for Action
But you know us Americans, we love our freedom. We’re gun-toting, wild animal killing, countrymen who need to have an arsenal in our home. Right. What animal do you kill with a semi-automatic assault rifle holding more that 10 rounds of ammunition? That animal is called a human being. In another post on this site, it was asked have we lost our “humanity.” My question is, at one point in this nation’s short history were we ever humane? During slavery, WWI, WWII, Iraq, Afghanistan? When? We have only ever subscribed to “humane” dealings when we’ve fought each other tooth and nail to do so. So, why do we expect humanity now?
This country has become desensitized to violence. Homicides are commonplace. And though this tragedy is now the second most devastating shooting in our history, it will only add to the ranks of tragedies unless we actually do something about it. From 1994 to 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban made it slightly more difficult to obtain these killing machines. This makes sense since of the 61 mass murders since 1982, the majority of the weapons used was semi-automatic or assault weaponry. And in almost fifty of the instances, the weapons were obtained legally. In the case of Newtown, the killer’s mother legally owned the guns he used to kill her, himself, and 20 students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since the ban on assault weapons was allowed to expire, the number of casualties in these horrific events has increased. Again, how is this not a time for politics?
I know you have heard the term, “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Right and stairs don’t hurt babies. Babies hurt babies. This is not a false equivalency. You wouldn’t leave a young child alone in a bath tub just as you shouldn’t want random crazies walking around with legally obtained guns. If this is not the time to put aside petty politicking, I don’t know when is. We now regulate the number of calories in a Happy Meal but we don’t regulate machine guns in any viable way? Do more Happy Meals kill people than assault weapons?
Well, as long as we keep telling ourselves that this is not the time for politics, we will never hold our representatives in Congress or the White House accountable for these tragedies. But, this country is literally dying for cogent gun policy. How many more of these nightmares do we have to experience before something (political) is truly done? We kill more people in this country each year via gun than any other “peaceful” nation. Doesn’t it sound like time for politics? I’d say yes.