If those 19 kids gunned down in Uvalde had been in an amniotic sac rather than a classroom, perhaps Texas lawmakers would have done something to keep them safe.
But they were in fourth grade, having long since left their mothers’ wombs, so the rights of an 18-year-old to buy an assault rifle and hundreds of bullets took precedence over their right to life.
Because the right to possess weapons of death always takes precedence over the lives so casually erased by them.
Like those of ten shoppers, nine of them Black, gunned down in a racist terrorist attack in Buffalo last week.
Like the lives of roughly 45,000 people each year taken by gun violence (homicide, accidental death, or suicide).
If this is the price we pay for “freedom,” we’re paying too much.
Because there are plenty of nations every bit as free as ours, if not more so, where the tab is considerably smaller.
With a gun homicide rate 25 times higher than that of other affluent nations, either Americans are the worst, most violent people in the industrialized, high-income world, or we’re just incredibly stupid when it comes to our definition of liberty.
Either way, it’s time to renegotiate the bill.
But to even suggest such a thing will bring out the cries of tyranny from the same people who gladly trample women’s liberties in the name of embryonic and fetal life.
From the same people who care nothing for the equal protection rights of Black and brown folks, the religious liberties of anyone who isn’t Christian, or any rights at all for those who are LGBTQ.
Tyranny to them means having to wear a mask at Trader Joe’s and anything that limits their ability to possess as many weapons as they desire.
These are people more committed to death than life.
They would rather die or potentially kill others than be inconvenienced by public health measures or common-sense gun regulations.
They would rather endanger children in an elementary school and watch 45,000 people a year die from gun violence than rethink their fetish for these weapons, unregulated and unrestrained.
It is one thing to own a gun, after all.
It is quite another to feel entitled to it, and more, to need it — to feel it to be an extension of your identity, something so important you must be able to obtain as many of them as you wish, with no limitations.
But for millions of Americans, that is what guns are.
And to nurture that need for personal meaning, they are willing to watch children be slaughtered in schools.
Or elderly Black people in a supermarket.
Or younger Latinos and Latinas in one.
Or worshippers in a synagogue or church.
They’re willing to countenance upwards of 45,000 deaths annually so that they might be able to defend themselves when the bad guys come.
If they come, which is unlikely — far less likely than the fetishists would have us believe, with their mathematically ridiculous bullshit claims of 2.5 million defensive uses of guns each year.
The 45,000 dead are guaranteed. They are not speculative.
Every year, they will die so that these gun fanatics might, in some incredibly unlikely moment, be able to defend themselves with the same kind of weapon responsible for all those deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries.
And if, in the face of these relative risks, you think to yourself, yeah, but it’s still worth it, you’re lost to reason.
You believe the lie of self-defensive gun use as a common occurrence when it is anything but.
You are so committed to fashioning yourself a hero in your own movie, bravely saving your family from danger, that you can’t help but cling to the very source of your family’s insecurity — theirs and millions of others.
And you can’t even see how the ability to protect yourself — even if such a scenario became necessary — would not be lessened one iota by the kinds of reforms folks are calling for, some of which I’ll mention below.
. . .
And yes, I know that the ever-reasonable Nicholas Kristof wants us to stay calm and find common cause with gun people around gun safety, but he misses the point. The policy ideas he supports are all rock-solid, but the notion that we can get any of them passed following some rational sit-down with ammosexuals is absurd.
That isn’t scalable.
This isn’t about persuasion. It’s about mobilization.
It’s about those of us who don’t view weapons as a surrogate dick acting like the majority we are.
There are more of us than them, and I include the many responsible gun owners in that number. But we act otherwise, intimidated by the money and bluster of the NRA and a bunch of would-be insurrectionists.
We’re apparently afraid that if we piss them off, they might try something really crazy.
Like what? Trying to storm the Capitol and overthrow the government?
The gun nuts are never timid. And they don’t try and persuade the rest of us about anything. They steamroll everyone who gets in their way.
No one ever asks them how they plan to appeal to moderates who believe in common-sense gun control because it’s taken for granted that they never have to appeal to the middle.
They never have to compromise.
It’s time to stop acting like the kid who got bullied in the playground and continued to insist, after being knocked down twenty times, that he can still “use his words” to shut down the bad guy.
It’s time, politically, to sock these venal crapsacks in the mouth.
Stop fighting like liberals and start fighting like people who are tired of watching children die and then being told to make nice with those who were accessories to their murder.
Until and unless we are as angry and passionate in our devotion to breaking gun culture and forcing common-sense reforms as the gun nuts are to their dystopian Wild West hellscape, all this fuckery will continue.
Calm and reasonable doesn’t work with fanatics.
Only determination and an unwillingness to back down will.
This means fighting for sensible laws and gun regulations like:
- Red flag laws that would allow family or clinicians to block individuals from purchasing weapons if they exhibit signs of emotional instability likely to correlate with violent behavior.
- Annual firearm registration to allow for tracking of weapons. Any gun owned must be officially registered to the owner. If the owner sells the gun, the registration must be shifted to the new owner like a car title would be. Then, as a follow up:
- Requiring all private gun sellers to conduct background checks on purchasers as well. Failure to do so will result in legal liability including prison time if the person to whom you sell a gun goes on to commit a crime with it.
- Suspension of the right to own a gun for all persons found guilty of domestic abuse, regardless of whether the person abused was a spouse or merely a romantic partner or other family member.
- Banning high-capacity magazines. No one needs the capacity to shoot more than ten bullets for self-defense.
- Making the age for all firearm purchases 21 as a matter of federal law.
- Making parents liable for any crime committed by their minor child with a gun obtained from the parents’ home or given to them by the parent. And make gun owners liable for any crime committed with their weapon by someone who steals it from their home, car, or person. Such a law would make people less likely to own a gun, let alone several. At the very least it would incentivize the safe storage of such weapons, reducing accidental deaths and the likelihood of a weapon being stolen in a burglary and used in a later crime.
Additionally, we must push for an all-out shift in the culture. This means:
- Stop giving your children — particularly your boys — guns to play with, whether a toy or real. Stop normalizing the thinking that shooting at people is ever OK, whether make-believe or IRL.
- Stop letting your kids play first-person shooter video games. Although the games are not to blame for real-life violence, their indulgence is part of a larger gun culture that needs to be shifted. By treating such games as unacceptable and unworthy of decent people, parents can send a message that guns and violence are not games, not fun, and not to be taken lightly.
- Companies whose PACs support pro-gun candidates with donations should be boycotted and shamed relentlessly.
- People who love guns, pose for pictures with their guns, or take their kids to gun ranges should be mocked and ridiculed, made to feel as stupid as they look. Make fun of them on social media and anywhere else you deem appropriate.
And please, you can miss me with all the nonsense about how “that will just make ’em dig in harder.”
These are people who already tried to overthrow democracy or support someone who did.
What more are you afraid of at this point?
Make gun nuts the social and political pariahs they deserve to be.
. . .
Pick a side: unrestrained and unregulated gun ownership or your children’s safety. Because we obviously cannot have both.
And if you would choose the guns over the kids, you deserve neither.
In a perfect world, we would probably take away your children too.
This post was previously published on An Injustice!.
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