This Is Not What Freedom Looks Like

We woke up on Sunday in beautiful, Krakow, Poland (where we had almost no chance of being shot, by the way) to news of yet another mass murder in the U.S. It was not the first time those events had converged. Not even the second or the third. In fact, I wasn’t even surprised, because American mass murders are becoming normal. On any given day, anywhere in the world we may be, there are decent odds that we’ll wake up to news like this.

The sad fact is, out here, in the rest of the world, America is now known as a country that experiences massacres on a regular basis. Think about that for a second. The “land of the free and the home of the brave” has a reputation for being a country where a considerable number of well-armed maniacs apparently roam free.

To be fair, I think most people understand that there are maniacs all over the world, and always have been. What they don’t understand is why, in the U.S., we let them buy all the guns they like.

It’s probably a good thing I am not the diplomat in the family—for several reasons! But, I am especially glad that it is not my job to explain American gun laws. Because I frankly don’t understand them either. Why do we let almost anyone buy all these guns? Especially guns that are designed specifically for multiple, quick and efficient, kills?

I mean, what the hell is wrong with us, anyway?

After every shooting, the American media (and, apparently, the rest of us) expend a tremendous amount of time and bandwidth trying to figure out the killer’s “motive.” This is somewhat understandable, because after all, most people wouldn’t dream of picking up an AR-15 and blasting away at their fellow humans. It is thankfully a mystery to most of us why anyone would want to do such a thing. But I think trying to determine motive is a waste of time.

Pop quiz: what do all these people, as well as nearly every other mass murderer, have in common?

MassMurders_1050x700

Well, obviously, they are all men. You can’t ignore that fact. Men are more violent. But 50 percent of the world is male, so let’s narrow it down a bit more.

Here’s what 100 percent of these particular guys have in common. They are losers. They have failed in some way, shape or form. They can’t get a job, can’t get a woman, or in the most recent case, apparently can’t handle being gay or bisexual because of brainwashing by a whack-job fundamentalist father who believes that homosexuality means a quick trip to hell. Because that particular combination of circumstances has never happened before, right?

Our “system” of firearms regulation is based on two shaky premises: 1.) that all guns will be purchased legally (which ignores some basic principles of supply and demand) and 2.) that screening retail gun buyers for criminal records, mental illness, and various other criteria is a workable way to prevent guns from being used in crimes—or to mow down innocent people.

Clearly, given what we just saw in Orlando, the screening process doesn’t work. Omar Mateen was obviously a person who should never have been allowed anywhere near a weapon, yet he bought them anyway, no problem. Even if he couldn’t have bought them legally, I’m pretty sure he could have obtained what he wanted illegally, due to the sheer number of weapons lying around in America!

And yes, he was a Muslim. Some people, looking for a “motive,” believe that banning or even expelling Muslims from our country is one way to stop massacres from happening. The photo above says all that needs to be said about that idiocy. Muslims are clearly not the problem. Losers are the problem.

Fundamentalist, intolerant, beliefs of any kind, whether based on religion or on theories about racial, ethnic, or gender superiority, are a problem on many levels, occasionally reaching the point at which some people think they need to kill for them. These people are always losers (see above).

The thing is, losers have a great need to blame someone else for their failures. Extreme philosophies are just a handy vehicle for their paranoia. See history of the world, esp. 20th century populist/nationalist political movements. Hitler? Now he was a classic loser, wasn’t he? Most ISIL recruits? Well, what do you think?

So, really, if you want to resolve the problem of mass shootings in the U.S. by means of enforcement based on suspected motives, you’d have to screen for losers, wouldn’t you? How would that work, exactly?

I am from the southern U.S., arguably the heart of “gun culture.” Most of my relatives own guns. Still, I don’t personally understand why people feel the need to have home arsenals. I don’t understand wanting to have a gun for anything other than hunting. I will never believe that more guns will solve anything, because I have lived in high-crime foreign cities that are bristling with guns. So, I know that a “well-armed” society is far from “polite.” Any American who thinks that having more “good guys with guns” would resolve any kind of problem at all should try living in San Salvador for a year or two. Everything from shopping malls fast-food restaurants and preschools had armed guards at the door when we lived there. Is that we want America to look like? (Hint: most Salvadorans want to move to the U.S., not the other way around!)

But I also know that many (polls vary) of even those people who sleep better with a handgun under their beds for whatever reason would agree that there is just no need for anyone to have an AR-15 or any other so-called “assault weapon”around. That is not about self-defense. That is not about hunting. That is certainly not about any right to bear “arms” as envisioned by the musket-toting writers of the Second Amendment. It is about having a gun fetish. And we, as a society, are under no obligation to support that fetish at the expense of lives.

A "cheap" AR-15. Just Googling for this led me to some seriously weird sites.
A “cheap” AR-15. Just Googling for this led me to some seriously weird sites.

There are so many firearms floating around in our society at this point that the problem of gun violence can seem overwhelming. I don’t know what the ultimate solution will be, but how about we start with one thing that at least most of us can agree on.

Let’s accept the considerable evidence that in any given population, there will be enough losers to ensure that someone is going to go postal every now and then.

Let’s agree that current methods of screening and enforcement are not keeping guns away from these murderers.

So, how about we at least take away the means to kill FORTY-NINE PEOPLE at a time.

I know, thats lame. I know we should aim higher. A lot higher. But at this point, with Congress slowed to a halt by Tea Party obstructionists, with the National Rifle Association exerting a truly mysterious amount of influence on legislation, and with the next well-armed loser stocking up on perfectly legal ammo as I write, maybe we should just try to agree on this one thing.

Ban the sale of the AR-15 and similar models. Right now. Because this is an emergency situation. I’d really love to see the ban topped off with a government buyback program to get as many of these guns out of circulation as possible. Melt them down, beat them into plowshares, do whatever it takes to keep them from being used to kill people. Just get it done. A girl can dream, right?

Then let’s talk about what else we can do to become a more civilized society in which mass murder isn’t normal. As President Obama said, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. Because we are not free as long as any of us have to worry every single day about being mowed down by a loser with legally purchased guns and ammo at school, at work, or at a nightclub.

That is not what freedom looks like.

This is not freedom. Photo from nbcnews.com.
Vigil at the White House. Photo from nbcnews.com.
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4 comments

  1. I think you have good points, especially about the “loser” aspect of the perpetrators. I wish the national conversation focused more on that and the media’s role as well. (Why do they have to be famous??)

    But from experience I can tell you that people determined to kill will use roadside bombs, IED’s, whatever. We saw it with the Boston bombers. Until we understand the motive behind these killings, changing the means only gets us so far.
    -Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I00% agree. And also wonder at the mysterious influence of the NRA myself. Why does an organization like the NRA have so much pull over politicians. It has to be more than just money. Blackmail? Seriously. I know I’ve been watching too much Blacklist, but there must be something because you would think that some frigging amount of sanity would prevail in Congress, but they seem to have gone utterly and totally batshit crazy in the last 12 years.

    Like

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