Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blindingly Foolish

There are many in the media and in positions of political power who had hoped it would be a while - a long while - before they were faced with another one of those issues that Americans have been avoiding for some time.

In this case that issue is gun violence in America.

As we drew, and read, and translated, and directed, and wrote, and took care of our lives on Tuesday afternoon, two more kids - KIDS! - got seriously injured in another incident of senseless gun violence at a school in California.

We're fairly certain this one won't get the kind of media attention so many others have. "No one died, so it's not that big of a deal," said one member of the national media, behind the scenes, to one of our staffers. We'll leave that person nameless, because their jaded attitude isn't really the point of our commentary today.

Let's be honest with each other for once in our lives about the nature of guns in American culture.

We simply have too damn many of them - and too many in the hands of people who don't respect them, can't use them properly, or simply shouldn't have them due to age or disease, or mental condition. No five-year-old NEEDS a rifle, let alone a handgun. Neither does an 85-year-old, with or without Alzheimer's disease.

Yet in America, right now, right this very minute, there are at least 90 guns for every 100 people. Rich, poor, old, young, insane, sane, every color, shape, size, and ability - there are 90 guns for every 100 people. If you're reading this in a room with less than five people, there are enough guns on average in America that each of you should have two - except for the idiot with the fully automatic machine gun who would only need one. But, of course, he probably owns several already.

It's not that we think the Second Amendment - the vaunted legal statute that far too many Republicans have taken way beyond its original meaning, in part due to their fear of the NRA's power to make or break elections - should be scrapped. We see no problem with responsible Americans who have been properly trained in gun safety, and who have a proper respect for the power of firearms, owning a gun or two.

That being said, there is no reason whatsoever for Americans to have the destructively cavalier attitude towards guns that we do.

It is not just in our use of language that we have been careless in our use of gun metaphors. It's in nearly everything we do, from our books, music, movies, and cartoons, to the very way we approach the idea of managing weapons properly.

In the face of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords earlier this month, there have been multiple gun control measures proposed, most of which will never see more than a few words in digital or hard copy newspapers. We doubt that any House and Senate members of EITHER party have the intestinal fortitude to do anything more than dump ineffective platitudes at the feet of those who will be injured or killed in the next heinous gun-related violent event.

At least on this issue, for those of us who still claim some hold on rational thought, there are no party identifications at all.

Our lawmakers are all either cowards incapable of protecting their citizens, or blind fools unable to see that their refusal to act boldly and effectively endangers us all.

Please, please, please remember their actions, and/or lack of such, during the next election cycle.
Or if the next elections seem too far away, just wait for the next gun-related tragedy to remember the cowardice of all those politicians who chose to do nothing at all.

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