Gosh, I envy folks who manage to come up with something to write down on a weekend like this one. I was really proud of the producers of Saturday Night Live, who opened the show with a choir of children singing “Silent Night.” And our own contributors on Sunday — Glenn Smith and masaccio, among others — were joined by Peterr and our own team at their own joints, like Cocktailhag, and our alumnae like emptywheel, all of whom had remarkable reflections and thoughts and elegies to offer.
I wish I did.
I find myself in the place of wanting the world to be so completely different from the way it is now that I can’t see how to get there, or even close to there, from where we are now. I know there are cultures, not terribly far away or even different from our own, where (to take one example) a potential gun owner must wait up to 60 days for an ownership permit application to be approved, an application that must come with two recommendations as to gun ownership fitness and course completion, too. When I hear that, I think, well — that’s a start. That would get us partly to the culture I would prefer. It’s not completely there, but it’s a beginning.
And I realize that even that small step could not be possible, given the odds we face.
I mean, we have a national legislature that, when faced with the immediate prospect of one of their own members being shot in the face who barely escaped alive — could not act. America has seen college kids, high school kids, moviegoers and worshipers: all cut down in the prime of their lives with no action to redeem their sacrifice. No action taken means we don’t really value their sacrifice, or value it enough to take the fight to those who enable the killing.
I mean, Gabby Giffords couldn’t return to her job among them. And they applauded and cried when she led the pledge at their national convention. But they did not act. Absent losing a family member to gun violence, I don’t know how much closer-to-home it gets than that. But they could not act. For about 45 minutes that morning, the “news” from Arizona had her dead. And she came back!
But they would not act.
So I don’t see us getting anywhere with this new national conversation about guns. Oh, sure, I suppose Senator Feinstein’s bold plan to take us back to the 1992 status quo, when assault weapons were “banned,” is a start. But tremendous political capital will be expended to pass that law again, and it puts us where we were two decades ago.
Is that really progress in protecting America’s schoolkids from atrocities like Friday’s?
Shouldn’t we go further? Should we have a move to repeal the second amendment, the one that’s been perverted to mean that anyone in need of mental health treatment can instead buy any number of untraceable guns and ammo for whatever twisted purpose he has in mind? America’s highest court thinks Amendment TWO means a well-regulated militia is everybody-for-himself. Those who want/like/love/fetishize guns claim (again) the solution to events like schooltime shoot-em-ups is more guns in more schools in more teachers’ hands. The solution to terror in a dark theater is more shooters, more arms, more shots fired.
I say: can we simply skip from Amendment the First to Number Three?
I don’t look forward to this new National Conversation about Gun Safety, because I think it will get us nowhere. I’m willing to sign petitions, write some blogposts, pass along pithy comparisons to other countries on Facebook, and laugh hard at people like Bill Bennett and Louie Gohmert for their contributions to the discussion. But I don’t think anything’s going to change.
Because if it was changeable, we’ve had the chance to change it. This wasn’t the first opportunity to change it. Hell, Friday’s atrocity wasn’t even last week‘s first opportunity to talk about how to change things. We’ve had Australia’s example in front of us for some time, with the usual inaction on our part. If Americans wanted things to change, they would have changed by now.
I don’t think America really wants this changed. Which means there will soon be more dead people at the hands of madmen who couldn’t get help they needed, but could get guns they wanted.