I have been heavy of heart and mind this week with the mass shooting at the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, which followed a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which followed a mass shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, which followed a mass shooting …, which followed a mass shooting …, which followed a mass shooting ….
There have been so damn many mass shootings in this country that one bleeds into another (my choice of words here being intentional). The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of these mass shootings, “the foundation definition being that they have a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident.” [https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/explainer]
As of today (May 29, 2022), there have been SEVEN more mass shootings in the United States since Uvalde.
Most of us have had ENOUGH.
We are heaped with sadness over all the lives lost. But we are also mad as hell at the radicalized Republicans who continue to block meaningful gun control measures in Congress. We’re seething with anger at the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne LaPierre, who have bought and paid for the radical Republicans, and seem quite blasé at the blood bath that’s making bank for gun manufacturers.
It is the NRA that actively ignores (and encourages everyone else to ignore) the part of the Second Amendment that allows for those serving in well-regulated militias to bear arms. Last time I checked, most of us weren’t serving in well-regulated militias. The Supreme Court also deserves some blame in our current gun-happy climate with its Heller decision [https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf] that constitutionally moved gun ownership beyond militias. (Funny how the Constitutional originalists cherry-pick the Constitution like evangelicals cherry-pick the Bible, ain’t it?)
Congress was pretty quick to provide SCOTUS members protection from protestors outside their homes, but can’t manage to protect the rest of us through sensible gun control measures. [https://www.npr.org/2022/05/10/1097803459/supreme-court-roe-v-wade-abortion-access-protest-alito]
The Republicans have become stonewalling bullies through decades of behind-the-scenes decisions and activities that have given them an advantage over the majority. Most of us can see what’s happening but feel powerless to do anything about it.
Except, with Uvalde, I’m seeing signs that we have been pushed far enough and we’re trying to figure out ways to work around the bullies.
You’re only stuck if you think you’re stuck is advice I heard long ago. While this is one sticky situation that many of us had no hand in making, our anger may finally be motivating us to use our collective creativity to put the bullies in their place and reclaim our public spaces from mass shootings. (I was encouraged by the video I saw recently of mothers of small stature grabbing the megaphone from a big guy shouting about his Second Amendment rights and, using nothing but their voices and words, making him back off.)
I’m seeing intense discussions online concerning gun control, discussions the Republicans discourage us from having after each mass shooting by saying, “Now’s not the time to play politics.”
We’re done waiting until they are ready. The time has come and people are providing good arguments about why every Tom, Dick, Martha, and Harry should not have unfettered access to guns.
A Twitter thread from February 14, 2020, by @JohnKaminar resurfaced with the recent mass shootings. [https://twitter.com/JohnKaminar/status/1228326139283824640]
Kaminar, who trained people in the use of guns in the Army, explains the thorough process the military uses with new soldiers before they are even allowed to touch a gun, let alone a gun with ammo. My son served as a Gunner’s mate in the Navy and I can vouch for Kaminar’s description of the well-regulated gun training process because my son went through it. No one simply sauntered around his ship with a gun just for the hell of it.
Aside from providing good arguments about why civilians ought to have training before owning guns, I’m also seeing some ideas that move beyond those that typically surface after a mass shooting, like closing the gun show loophole that sidesteps background checks and banning semi-automatic weapons (both excellent ideas, but continually blocked by Republicans).
Attorney Dirk Schwenk posted a Twitter thread featuring three ideas to reduce the number of guns in circulation. [https://twitter.com/DirkSchwenk/status/1530280275007119361]
Dirk’s ideas: 1) Place heavy taxes on guns & ammo with penalties for not paying those taxes.
2) Require gun owners to have insurance for the increased liability inherent in owning guns. Insurance companies are great at regulating liability around other products (Dirk points out that gun manufacturers have immunity from product liability – which is pretty damn senseless). They will have a field day coming up with methods to reduce shootings of all types because they don’t want to lose money paying out claims.
3) Gun buyback programs to get excessive numbers of guns out of circulation. This will help those who don’t want to insure them to get rid of their guns without selling them.
Let’s keep this intense conversation going and turn our anger into action to find ways to end mass shootings in this country.
We could learn a few lessons from the Swiss, as shown in this story from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: “Switzerland: So Many Guns, No Mass Shootings.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkuMLId8SqE]