June 1, 2022
“When in God’s name will we stand up to the gun lobby?” – U.S. President Joe Biden’s emotional reaction the day following the shooting.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott really doesn’t get it, does he? Or is he, too, feigning sorrow and support to these grieving families while using mental health as a convenient scapegoat? In his press conference addressing the Robb Elementary School mass shooting last week in Uvalde, Texas, leaving 22 dead including the assailant, 19 children, two teachers and 17 wounded as of this writing, we see him naturally avoiding the real underlying cause of the carnage from this ongoing flurry of horrendous gun violence in the U.S. This show of such unbridled ignorance, denial, pretense, and hypocrisy with Ted Cruz standing behind him at that press conference, with hands clasped and a facial expression in the guise of a contrite altar-boy was too sickening to watch. I had to leave the living room in disgust.
Another mass shooting. Another memorial crowned with loved ones’ faces and a date to add to countless others. I assure you that at this rate, the calendar is filling quickly. This one, however, hit me deeply and hard, leaving me somewhere between moments of unshakeable blood-boiling anger and physically exhausting emotion. Nineteen of Oscar Wilde’s most beautiful flowers brutally cut down before having their chance to blossom. Their lives have barely even started! Two of their guides also fallen with them. For what?
I have long wondered what so-called “logic” exists in the minds of those who advocate gun ownership south of the border. There really isn’t any! Ironically, it is almost senseless how this makes so much sense! After all this, and after so long, what will it take for them to finally grasp the simple fact that greater access to these hand and assault weapons is the primary factor in the astronomical number of shooting deaths annually in that country? A number far higher than most other nations combined! May there indeed be some actual truth in someone’s joke to me the other day about Republicans being poor in math? Joke or not, either blind, negligent or just “looking the other way,” these self-declared and supposedly well-meaning “law-abiding citizens” just won’t do that simple math if for nothing else, in a crassly short-sighted aim to keep these weapons in hand without regard to any of its widespread implications, nor to anyone else’s safety or viewpoint. This kind of arrogant and selfish “Frontier West” thinking alone is almost as reprehensible (even criminal) as that 18-year-old’s venture into that school with the AR-15, since they are either unable or unwilling to see this as its direct and indirect result! One would have to be in some serious gun-lobby induced delusion to not see the game of numbers in which more guns to protect more citizens is like pouring water on an oil fire. As long as they choose to ignore or deny their own contribution to this growing bloodbath by increasing the sheer odds with the propagation of these weapons, they will have unwittingly chosen to allow the rolling snowball effect and let these killing sprees continue, in likely greater number and severity, leading to even more blood in their hands. There is, and will be, no stop to this senselessness if the general approach – indeed the all-encompassing social paradigm – to this pressing issue does not change.
To be brutally blunt, we are essentially killing our own citizens with the Status Quo. This has become America’s slow-moving national holocaust. With this latest in a long line of recent atrocities, there is a growing undercurrent of urgency in again rethinking this society’s approach and attitude toward this kind of violence that at this point can easily be described as endemic. The time has come that blame should no longer be laid solely on “the criminal element,” as this has equally become a safety issue. No argument for the NRA’s “Sacred, God-Given” Second Amendment right to bear arms can in any degree ever counter the irrefutable evidence clearly demonstrated time and again in the number of annual U.S. gun fatalities directly correlated with level of access by state or region over the decades. Just look away and you won’t see it…This so-called constitutional right is in fact hardly more than an antiquated Martial-Law provision allowing implements of defence against enemy personnel in a civil-war setting, dating back to the American Revolution in the 18th Century. Wake up, pilgrims! We are no longer under Martial Law. This is domestic peacetime in the 21st Century! It has long lost any of its relevance! Yet the body count continues its sad escalation, as America, over that time, has developed a rather disturbing appetite for this propensity to shoot bullets, and the resulting numbers show a largely preventable annual child death toll that far surpasses all that of childhood diseases and accidents combined. The number of guns in the U.S. is now estimated at just under 400 million, surpassing its population. The total annual number of gun deaths there can depopulate a small city of 44,000. Since the beginning of this year alone, barely four and a half months ago, there have already been 214 reported shootings in the U.S. alone – 24 of which occurred in schools, based on a Washington Post report. I lose my balance just taking in these staggering statistics. I turn to those who fervently advocate gun ownership and ask: “How Sacred and God Given is life itself – if not that of your children – next to “your Second Amendment right” if your own child becomes a victim of a fatal shooting (either by terror or accident)? What are the odds that Robb Elementary or Sandy Hook are not risk products of the sheer propagation of these guns and their lax laws? Hell will freeze over before any of you can even convince me that they aren’t, and your precious “God-given” right only serves to contribute to these dangerous risks we are all now facing!
What are we doing? What have we done? The American Dream has become the American Nightmare, where almost as easily as buying cigarettes and alcohol, an 18-year-old in Texas can waltz into a gun shop with hardly a background check (with them thinking that since he has no criminal precedent, he should be a safe bet) – Sure! – and step out with a semi-automatic. Yet adding to this absurdity is that incidentally in that very State of Texas, that same youngster cannot purchase alcohol!!
Of all the absurdities I have observed in my lifetime, this would have to be one of the most glaring!!
To be fair, it is one thing to call for a full and permanent repeal of the Second Amendment, or a full and complete dismantling of the NRA, but just how can that now be fully achieved at this point? The bed has been made and the country has been sleeping in it for so long while its authorities, legislators, and citizens let the current state of things develop through countless decades of complacency and disregard for stringent firearm regulation leading to this modern backlash. At this juncture in the story the problem has become so prevalent and all but irreversible that the cracks are beginning to show. Because of this complacency, these same regional authorities are now caught in a vicious vice grip as they are virtually forced to further lax these laws to avoid clogging their prisons, many of which are already full to the breaking point – quite the bed they made – one they should have stopped and see coming. A shuddering and frightening irony!
Moreover, firearms have become a 70 billion-dollar industry annually in the U.S. with the economic weight of approximately 350,000 direct and indirect jobs. It also appears, by the way, that these shootings have proven quite profitable for this industry, as with each event, sales of firearms tend to spike in a reflex of fear that gets gun manufacturers and their shareholders smiling secretly behind their façade of commiseration and support. The National Rifle Association has become one of the most powerful and influential lobbies in the country, essentially funding and supporting Republicans, who in turn are generally staunch NRA supporters and advocates of gun-ownership. A somewhat symbiotic relationship if I ever saw one. They have all let it go this far – this big – this ugly. With the shock and pain still fresh from this most recent slaughter, it still hosted a convention barely 400 kilometres from the site with the likes of Trump spewing the usual tiresome pretentious rhetoric and blaming just about everything under the sun other than firearms. In fact, without any reserve he practically preached the increased use of them. How twisted! How irrational can this get? Aside from the mental health aspect of this issue, which Governor Abbott also alluded to earlier almost exclusively, (and rightfully so, as it also urgently needs to be addressed), this orangutan has proven again the organization’s perfect poster-boy. Sorry, but please…someone shut up that ape…
The pondering artist in me recovers, as he usually does. My “bowels in an uproar” have calmed and become soft landing gear as my spirit gently touches back down to the good earth amidst the light through a nearby window of a late-spring setting sun, bathed in that mystic painterly blend of translucent salmon pink and azur.
At that precise moment, musical words come to mind – those of Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) – from an early 70s classic...I hereby dedicate them to the memory of their young souls, taken far too soon:
Oh, very young, what will you leave us this time
You’re only dancin’ on this earth for a short while
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you
Will you ride the Great White Bird into heaven
And though you want to last forever,
You know you never will
You know you never will
And the goodbyes make the journey harder still.