Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

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When Columbine happened, I cried.  Virginia Tech, I cried.  Sandy Hook, I cried.  After Sandy Hook, I thought I was finished crying.  Then came the shooting in Charleston, SC this past summer.  I cried again.  Yesterday’s shooting in San Bernardino, CA–I didn’t cry.  I’m horrified, deeply saddened, my heart aches and breaks for those lost, injured, and those who have lost loved ones in yesterday’s slaughter.  You know the one, in a Social Services center, where the developmentally disabled receive services.  I’m disgusted.

When did these types of shootings become an acceptable part of the fabric of America?  Last night I thought it must have been after Sandy Hook.  But I purposely waited before trying to put a blog post together, waited until I was calm enough to think beyond what.the.fuck.  Earlier in the day, before I saw the news from San Bernardino I was still debating whether or not I could write anything that made sense about this past weekend’s shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado.  Whoops, I blinked, new shooting. So I make no guarantees as to the coherence of this post, sorry.

This morning I’m thinking this “acceptability” must be older.  Maybe 1984, when 21 people were slaughtered (also in CA) in a McDonald’s.  After all, not everyone goes to college.  Not everyone relates to seeing churches as a sanctuary.  Not everyone had a warm and fuzzy school experience.  But McDonald’s?  What could possibly be more American, more of a symbol of capitalism at its finest, than McDonald’s?  (Hell, when I had my first child, McDonald’s was one of my thoughts when deciding whether or not to raise my children vegetarian, and decided against it.)  Maybe it was 1986, when “going postal” became a punchline after 14 people were shot and killed in Oklahoma.  Come to think of it, when did these mass shootings become a sacred cow?  Not that they’re in any way, shape, or form funny– but somehow they aren’t a subject open for discussion.  Or study. Or, yanno, action.

My mind is peppered with questions, but not the ones you might think.  We’ve had so damned many of these shootings, in so many ordinary places filled with people going about their lives, there’s no question that any and everyone in this country should be able to identify and understand this isn’t a matter of a hazy “them,” it could be me, or you, or anyone we care about.  We’ve had so many I don’t care about the specific why or who of each shooter.  White, black, brown, male, female, Christian, Muslim, right now I don’t give a shit.  When we look at these mass shootings, we are always looking at American citizens taking out as many other American citizens as they can.  I think we need to focus on the how before anything else.  And the answer to how is guns.  Easy accessibility and the attachment to them.  It is bizarre, that we live in a society where the right to own a personal, literal arsenal is considered so holy, we aren’t even allowed to research it.  

Because, as the Facebook memes say, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  This is true–and they kill each other with guns.  We passed the time when access to legal guns should have been given (much) tighter restrictions at least thirty years ago.  It’s also true that increased background checks and tighter restrictions will not eliminate all gun related crimes and deaths.   We can’t cure  cancer, either, but we screen for it, pay attention to symptoms and warning signs, and treat people who are sick.  Surprisingly enough, even though we have no cure for cancer, many of the people treated go into remission and go on to live full lives.  Some don’t.  If we used the same logic currently being used for arguments against gun control, we wouldn’t treat any cancer patients because some will die regardless of treatments available and used.

Last night I had a conversation about this with a friend who is also medical needs mom.  Over the years, we have gotten very good at compartmentalizing.  You kind of have to, in order to help your child as much as possible, but also to, well, live.  Get the laundry done once in a while.  Laugh.  We have learned to accept what would have once been considered unthinkable, let alone acceptable.   So I understand how and why we, as Americans, have learned to compartmentalize these atrocities, these types of “events.”  When there are so many, we have to, in order to keep functioning.  But there’s a huge difference in this analogy.  We don’t stop caring and loving.  We don’t stop doing everything in our control to learn what we can, access the best treatments, provide the best life.  We don’t stop remembering our children, medical needs/special needs or not, are human beings.  It seems to me it’s time for the larger we, the American people, to remember these victims (past, present and future) of gun violence are human beings.  We’re supposed to care.  Care with real discussion, not rhetoric.  Care with action and the best preventative measures available.

“It’s too soon” is not a battle cry.  It’s a deflection.  And it’s nonsense when these horrors are happening so frequently there isn’t even a pretense of a time that isn’t too soon.

These shootings aren’t an act of God, a force of nature we’re powerless to prevent.  We, as a society, are making a choice.  We make a choice when we watch and read opinion pieces and pretend they’re news, we make a choice when we encourage hatred, when we value this life over that one, we make a choice when we tsk tsk about another mass shooting but don’t enact stricter gun laws.  Federal ones.

16 comments

  1. We’re making a choice, all right. I was talking to mr kk last night. It seems like right now, this country is split: between those who judge and those who don’t, those with empathy and those without, those who are tolerant and those who are not. Between smart people and stupid people, greedy people and giving people. . .

    I could go on. Actually, no I can’t. Because this is all so distressing, and I am at a loss to figure out how to fix it. I shudder to think of this country teetering on the precipice. Which way will we go, or have we already started that slide? I don’t know. I keep saying, there are more good people than bad in this world, but something like this happens, and then there’s Trump and all of that horribleness, people looking past what is right in front of them, because of their fear, or greed, or want or lack…

    *heavy sigh*

    One thing I do know, mrs fringe, we can’t remain silent. Especially not now. Thank you for this post, mrs fringe.

    -kk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Distressing is a good word, a level of anxiety that has taken up residence. That we’re divided feels ok to me, it’s the breadth of the divide that isn’t.
      I agree, the levels of fear and greed feel staggering right now. I came of age in the ’80s, a time viewed as all about big hair, the almighty buck, and me-me-me. I never, ever thought I’d live through a time when Ronald Reagan would appear moderate in comparison to the current Republican candidates.
      I know it sounds hokey–it feels hokey to think it–but I keep thinking the only way to move forward, to maybe (gasp) try to solve this issue, is to focus on our commonality and work from there. Our day to day experiences as Americans are so different depending on gender, sexuality, skin color, country of origin, religion, education, economic status, region, urban/suburban/rural, etc, I think it can be hard to remember that these shootings affect all of us, and not as differently as we’d like to think. Speaking up and listening to each other is, in my opinion, our only shot at changing anything. And we do need to change things, because the status quo isn’t working out so well for any of us.

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      1. Focus on our commonality, yeah. Problem is, right now, for too many of us, the focus on ‘me’ and ‘mine’. There is no ‘ours.’ No sharing what we have with those who don’t. No caring about what ‘they’ may need, or what ‘they’ lack, because they aren’t us, so fuck ’em, screw ’em, build a wall to shut ’em out, shut ’em up. Meanwhile, stockpile what’s ‘ours’, food and weapons and water and anything else, just in case ‘they’ get any ideas and oh yeah, let’s elect ‘our man’, who ‘tells it like it is’…

        Oh. My. God.

        Not everybody is like that in this country. And those of us who haven’t been blinded by fear and hate and greed still outnumber those who have. Right? Silent majority can not remain so. Not now, and not on election day.

        As for the conversation below, re: guns and all, I see a very black and white issue. Assault weapons are being used by people who kill other people to further their own agendas. Citizens should not have assault weapons. Personal protection, yep. Rifle for hunting or protection, yep. Pistol for protection, target practice? Yep. AK47s? No fucking way.

        My humble opinion, of course, and you know how much that’s worth.

        There, I feel better now.

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree, there’s way too much me/mine, us vs them. Are “we” the majority? I honestly don’t know, it certainly doesn’t feel that way, but I hope so, and want to believe it.
          I know nothing, NOTHING, about guns. They all look terrifying to me, and I can’t tell you what the difference is between what makes one personal protection and what makes another an assault weapon. There should definitely be well defined parameters re what types of guns people can purchase (after serious background checks), how many, for what purposes, how they’re stored. Also, ammunition. So many times I read follow up stories on these mass shootings/shooters, and don’t understand how in the world someone can think it’s ok and a right to stockpile a gazillion rounds of ammunition, and dozens of guns.
          Your humble opinion is always appreciated, and I’m glad you feel better. ❤

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          1. There’s a shotgun under my bed, mrs fringe. There for protection, as a last resort. It holds three shotgun shells. The safety is on. It has to be racked before you shoot, each time.

            I know how to use that gun and I hope I never have to.

            Compare that to one of the rifles used in the San Bernadino massacre. According to the NYT ( http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/us/weapons-in-san-bernardino-shootings-were-legally-obtained.html?_r=0 ):
            The rifles were variants of the popular AR-15, the semiautomatic civilian version of a military M-16. They are surprisingly easy to acquire in California, though they come with limitations … for instance, cannot have magazines that hold more than 10 bullets or can be quickly removed.

            However, such limitations can be easily, if illegally, bypassed. For instance, a 10-bullet magazine can be quickly removed by pressing the tip of a loose bullet into a recessed button, allowing for a high-capacity magazine to be inserted in its place.

            This release feature — called a “bullet button” — is installed, legally, by gun manufacturers on rifles sold in California; the high-capacity magazine is illegal in the state.

            The NRA has been historically opposed to banning semi-automatic weapons. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nra-we-will-oppose-semi-automatic-weapons-ban/ ): Though alleged shooter Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle when he murdered 20 young children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school – not five months after the same type of gun was used to kill 12 at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater – the National Rifle Association “will continue to oppose a ban on semiautomatic weapons,” the organization’s president David Keene said today on “Face the Nation.”

            That’s what I know about guns, mrs fringe.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Just hideous. 😦 Thank you for sharing this info, a lot of it feels overwhelming just because it’s so unfamiliar for me. I was reading that NYT article earlier. Much of it wasn’t new info for me, yet freshly horrifying when compiled together.

            Like

  2. I was raised to fear guns for very personal family reasons. It’s taken me 45-years on this planet and a lot of shitty life changes to make me consider a change in that forced decision. I’m looking at potentially spending the rest of my life alone and I’ll be damned if I spend those years afraid of shadows. I believe sane people who respect weapons such as guns should have the right to own one and protect themselves or their family if and when that time comes. Unfortunately, those times occur far too fucking often. America has sadly become a joke due to this fact. It’s time for the government who claims it’s their job to protect the citizens to do so and take back the reins from internal threats. I just have no clue how that’s going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not familiar with guns, don’t want to be, don’t need to be. That said, I recognize people in this country have different lives/lifestyles/needs. I’m not shouting for a complete ban, but for sensible restrictions that are federal. Federal because it’s too easy for someone who lives in a state with (imo) sensible restrictions to take a short drive and access weapons with little or no restrictions and bring them right back home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m still on the fence about whether or not I’ll learn to handle one. If I do, it won’t be for a long time because the person who I trust to teach me lives 2,300 miles away. But I honestly never had any interest in handling one before moving back to the states and having her suggest such a proposition. I very well may change my mind 30 times. It happens. Nonetheless, I agree whole-heartedly with restriction needs.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I so agree. Everyone keeps looking ar extremes but so often the solutions are in the middle.

    I related so much to your post. Once I found out my son in LA was safe, I just felt a sense of shock. It’s insane. The general responses seem also insane. I thought we lived in a civilized and developed country. We must have the ability to stop these terrible events.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lucie. I’m glad your son is safe, so hideous that it isn’t a given. This does feel insane. I keep looking at my Facebook feed, and the more time passes, the more extreme the comments and links–from both sides. It’s pretty much a guaranteed way to avoid any real discourse and solution. 😦

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  4. At least you were able to compose yourself enough to write something. I was still trying to deal with the Planned Parenthood shooting (my dad co-founded PP of Central OK) when San Bernardino happened. Then today the bottom fell out of the last bit of professional ethics remaining in the media (I’m a retired editor/publisher). I’m still trying to get my thoughts and emotions together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry. I believe the Planned Parenthood shooting felt personal to the majority of women in this country (and more than a few men). Having that shooting followed by Congress’ immediate attempt to block federal funding for PP…I really feel like our country is going mad. Between the shootings, the responses to the shootings, and what’s going on in Congress, it’s ugly. I remember learning about McCarthyism, speaking with people who were directly affected by it, and being horrified. I thought wow, thank God that’s over, and for the security that such madness could never happen again here. Right now? I’m sure of nothing.

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    1. There are a lot of (reasonably) sane people over here–at least on this issue 😉 I’m hoping there are enough to make a difference. But as is true for all the big issues, it’s the louder and more extremist voices that make for the best headlines, attract the most publicity. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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