Sunday, February 18, 2018

"The sense of its necessity"

Four Men Aiming Guns—Cheyenne drawing from the Maffet Ledger, Oklahoma, circa 1880 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

    Is it me? The giddy optimist secretly curled up inside and hidden within my perpetually-disappointed, curmudgeonly shell. Or does the agonized cry of helplessness following the massacre of 17 students and teachers Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. feel a little different? A little less helpless?
     It certainly is different, because of the immediate, active role the surviving students took in pushing back against the usual Republican palms-to-the-sky shrug and muddled, vague talk about mental illness and it being continually too soon to talk about anything substantive.  That felt different. Perhaps significant.
     Too soon to tell, of course. And if history is any judge, we cry and fulminate, shake our fists to the sky, ask why God why, then revert to form.
    And yet.
    Maybe the habit of opposing the horrors of the administration of Donald Trump ($30 million from the gun lobby) and the venalities of Marco Rubio ($3.3 million) and Mitch McConnell ($1.25 million) and the rest have made apathy a little less acceptable. 
    Maybe the hollowness of the nothing-we-do-will-be-1oo-percent-effective-so-let's-do-nothing argument rings extra hollow. Maybe people are realizing they don't apply that non-logic to anything else, alas. (No wall across the Southern border will keep out all illegal immigrants so lets not waste money building it). 
    Maybe we've finally realized that unless we mobilize we are never, ever going to stop this. And just as it has happened again and again, it will happen again and again. And again. And again. 
    Maybe we're okay with that. We've vowed change and allowed nothing to happen before. There is always Newtown, and all the rest, mute testimony to our failure and inertia. The Republicans not only do nothing but get re-elected on a clear platform of never doing anything, no matter what. The solution to guns is always more guns, as brilliantly parodied in that Onion piece about gorilla sales skyrocketing after a spate of gorilla attacks.
    The truth is clear. Other countries don't go through this. Just us. Special America. The gun manufacturers have sold this lie, that guns are needed to stave off government overreach and raging criminals, even while the government contracts and crime falls, generally, to historic low levels.
       What was it Lord Byron wrote?   
And the commencement of atonement is
The sense of its necessity. 
     Many Americans know it is necessary. Big time. Most of us do, really. But is that enough? I am not so naive as to think any of this will be easy. But where we stand is all so clear: the Republicans are paid agents of the enormously-profitable gun industry, and they have sold our children's lives, and will continue to do so until somebody stops them. Until America rises up and stops them. Maybe now is the time.


  1. My how the mighty have fallen. The Republicans had an auspicious beginning. Rooted in abolitionist philosophy, they did things like breaking into armories to distribute guns to slaves, under the belief that it is difficult to enslave an armed populace. Now they are reduced to counting Arthur Jones among their members. But the Democrats have there crosses to bear. People like Leland Yee elected to public office, in Nancy Pelosi's district no less, who conspire to bypass the NRA and US arms manufactures, and import illegal automatic weapons. At the same time doing everything possible to make more legal guns illegal, thus boosting the profits that can be made for gun running.
    Some people may find it hard to believe but the NRA is for gun control. They endorse and lobby to expand and properly fund the NICS program. This encourages people and other government agencies to report those individuals who are unsuitable for gun ownership. So you have to make a choice stand with the NRA in its fight for liberty, or be a proponent of allowing psychotic people who ignore all existing gun laws to arm themselves, and wreak havoc.

    1. Bernie I'm a little confused about your post . We have to stand with the NRA or we're supporting psychotic people from having guns ??

      Also your statement that the NRA supports gun control because they endorse NICS is not exactly factual.

      I would like to know more about your point of view in this regard. Please clarify.

    2. FME, I was all geared up to have a flame war with someone and then you have to be so polite, rats. Our country has a myriad of redundant gun laws that have yet to solve the problem of mentally unstable people obtaining guns and going on shooting sprees. Who knows how many gun laws Nikolas Cruz violated, I wouldn't be surprised if Parkland High School had signs with a red circle and slash superimposed on a handgun. The most effective gun control is not allowing mentally ill people to own firearms. In their website the NRA recognizes this problem, and determined the best solution is maintaining a national database (as opposed to databases of 50 states) of individuals who are ineligible to purchase or own firearms or other dangerous items like explosives. Individuals or other government agencies can notify the FBI, and they can then investigate and add them to the list if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. States should be able to revoke the FOID cards of people on the list, and confiscate weapons they own. Gun dealers can then access the database when selling firearms, without the need to do a complete background check on someone. If a gun seller fails to follow procedures, that would be a crime. After all do we really want a gun dealer with ink up one arm and down the other and too much facial hair to be able to type Bernie or FME or Neil Steinberg into a computer and get a complete background check? There are also laws that criminalize the attempt by an unauthorized person to purchase a firearm, the NICS would flag them.

    3. Oh well, as Emily Litella says, never mind. I should have double checked, the premise of my prior comments was based on visits to the NRA's website years ago. This is the NRA's current position, much more hardcore no compromise than in the past. So I guess all my good ideas are opposed by the NRA.

  2. Bond issue coming up in the next election in order to improve security at our high schools, to secure and fortify the entrances. Next we'll pass out body armor along with gym uniforms. The kids will grow up in a police state and think it's normal.

  3. They're already growing up in a police state, thanks to the militarization of local law enforcement since 9/11 that has turned this country into what feels like Occupied France, and it's already been normalized.

    Hell, DeKalb barely got a mention on the tenth anniversary, mostly because NIU "lost" to South Florida by a "score" of 17-6. The body count from 2-14-08 just wasn't high enough to rate much "ink" this time around. Sadly, we now have THREE St.Valentine's Day Massacres in our history. Yet another day that will live in infamy, along with Hitler's birthday (April 20th), when this whole sad chapter began at Columbine.

    1. Your comment is yet another that gives perspective to the abhorrent situation in which we find ourselves in this country, Grizz. In 1929, 7 gang members were killed by rival gang members on Valentine's Day. This is a touchstone event in American history, frequently referenced, and the anniversary of which never goes by unremarked upon. In 2008, 5 innocent students were killed and 17 others at NIU were injured by an armed stranger on Valentine's Day. If it were rare, perhaps this event would be widely remembered, as well. As it is, such events have become so commonplace that one requires a spreadsheet to even keep up with them.

  4. DeKalb will resonate with me until I die, since I am an NIU alum and a J-school grad (the photography classrooms and darkrooms were underneath the lecture halls), which means I spent an enormous amount of time in what later became known as Cole Hall. When CBS news ran aerial shots of the scene, I knew where the shooting was before a single word of audio was broadcast.


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