I don’t know why the killers did it. I don’t know their names or their ages. I don’t know their political affiliations, or if their mothers loved them when they were young.
What I know is fourteen people died on December 2nd in San Bernardino, California. They were killed at a Christmas party. I know that the two murderers were later killed by police officers. I also know three people were murdered in Colorado Springs last week, at a Planned Parenthood facility. I know dozens of people were killed in Charleston, South Carolina, and Aurora, Colorado, and in Newtown, Connecticut, among many other places. I know that hundreds of grieving survivors are left behind to ask questions that will probably never be answered.
There are other things I don’t know. I do not know why we as a society do not rise up against this madness, and demand an end to it. I do not know why the National Rifle Association has, over the last few decades, refashioned itself into a rabidly irrational political lobbying organization. The NRA and their ilk clothe themselves in the flag and posture as though they are the defenders of American democracy in the face of a continuously-prophesied but never-happening Federal confiscation of every gun in the country.
The NRA’s main purpose, however, appears to be creating fear and paranoia in people, and then collecting as much money as possible from those in whom they have stirred up the false specters of crime waves and government takeovers. At the same time, they mindlessly oppose any measure or regulation that might dial back American gun culture in even the smallest way, and intimidate any politician who supports such measures.
Here’s something else I don’t know: Why has Wayne LaPierre, Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, had nothing to say in the wake of the murders in San Bernardino? Or after the killings at the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs?
This isn’t going to turn into a screed against the NRA. That would be too easy. (Pry your gun from your cold, dead fingers? Seriously?). It would also be futile. (See “mindlessly”, above.)
No, this is about a question.
Why are we not rising up as a society, a people, and demanding an end to the carnage? Why are we not marching in the streets, furiously stating our children’s need, our society’s need, to end the violence that now happens with depressing regularity from one end of this country to the other – from Newtown to San Bernardino? Do we care so little? Are we so powerless? Is America so in thrall to the NRA and their minions?
The tragedy of these killings radiates out, like ripples in a pond when a stone is thrown into it. It’s not just fourteen people in California who won’t celebrate Christmas this year. There are all of us left behind who have to deal with the impact and consequences of the murders in San Bernardino and Roseburg, Oregon, and Charleston, and on and on.
A great many right-wing conservative politicians in this country (several of whom say they want to be the next president of the United States), abetted by like-minded television and radio commentators, make big talk about “taking back our country.” From what I can tell, they mean taking the country back to around 1955.
Well, I don’t want to take the country back. I want to take it forward. I want to do whatever is necessary to make it exceedingly difficult for mass murders like the ones in San Bernardino to take place.
Why in the name of heaven does the NRA not want the same thing? Oh, I know – they say that’s what they want. But then, they turn around and sabotage any meaningful, sensible regulations through their bought-and-paid-for politicians.
How long will the 80% of Americans who want expanded background checks and other reasonable regulations allow themselves – our selves – to be dominated and ignored by the likes of Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the Second Amendment fanatics?