Thursday, May 26, 2022

Guns N' Roses

Our rose bushes are going crazy as they always do in May and June, bursting with flowers. The parakeets are unimpressed, though. 

They're fixated only on one thing: food.

Now, there is no easy way to transition from beautiful roses and parakeets in the garden to the dark news coming out of Texas. But here goes.

Obviously when I wrote yesterday morning's post I hadn't yet heard about the shootings in Uvalde. In fact I didn't hear about them until I went to work and finally looked at the news online. As usual after such a hideous event, I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head that it's hard to articulate them. I felt the same after Newtown and Las Vegas and Parkland and Orlando. How many times do we have to live through these disasters before we address the fact that the United States has way too many guns, not enough restrictions and controls on said guns, and that our society provides inadequate mental health care for people wrestling with inner demons?

Our social sicknesses were on display almost right after the Texas shootings occurred. There was an immediate false rumor, perpetuated by a member of Congress, that the shooter was a transgendered illegal alien. The fact that the American hate machine kicked into action to demonize both immigrants and transgendered people -- and to deflect the conversation away from gun control -- when there were barely any official facts available is astonishing and repulsive. Paul Gosar should be officially censured (again).

I don't have any faith that this is going to lead to better gun control. When Newtown occurred back in 2012, I thought, "THIS is it. This is the event that is finally going to force America to come to terms with its disgusting infatuation with firearms." And did it? No. If killing elementary school students isn't enough, if assassinating presidents isn't enough, if 45,000 gun deaths (20,000 of them homicides) in 2020 alone isn't enough, then what is?

Gun control works. I can tell you that from my more than ten years of living here in the UK, where there are strict anti-gun laws and there's barely any gun crime. We just don't have them here (particularly handguns) and if anyone who's not a gangster misses them, I haven't heard about it.

I am certain that James Madison and the other founding fathers who wrote and approved the Second Amendment never imagined its ramifications. How could they? Not only didn't they envision modern high-powered weapons, they didn't foresee modern mental illness, the ease or circumstances under which one furiously deranged 18-year-old could exterminate a room full of schoolchildren. To lay these evils at Madison's feet or to defend them with the U.S. Constitution is obscene.

America needs common sense gun control laws. Period. Background checks, cooling-off periods, limits on the numbers of weapons a single buyer can acquire, limits on the types of weapons available. Also age restrictions -- it's ridiculous that someone who's basically still a teenager can't buy beer but can acquire a high-powered rifle. Any rational, sensible person could see the wisdom in restrictions like those.

We also need to take a hard look at our society. How do we create these alienated, friendless people? What resources should we be devoting to better mental health care and socialization? What do we do with these young men who live in the twilight world of the Internet, playing late-night shooter games and venting their wrath on 4chan message boards?

But will any of that happen? Will there be any substantive change? I doubt it.


Moving with Mitchell said...

I, too, doubt it. I thought Sandy Hook might be a turning point. Having read Republican politicians’ statements in response to this attack, it’s clear this won’t make a difference except, once again, to those who lost their loves or are left behind.

gz said...

Its just happening day after day after day.

Money talks, yes?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

A powerful response Steve.

Last night on the BBC News the only good thing I noted about guns in America is that 58% of adults do NOT own any kind of gun. I worked this out because they said that 42% do own guns.

Now we are simply waiting for the next terrifying shoot-em-up computer game scene to come to life. It seems that it could be anywhere - from Hawaii to Maine. So tragic, so frightening and so preventable.

Jennifer said...

You've said everything I'm thinking far better than I could. I'm just sickened. Again. And again and again and again.

This country is circling the drain.

Andrew said...

Yes the alienated and mental health do need addressing and while your gun control measures may have merit, I can't see that happening and nor is my wish of complete removal of guns from ordinary citizens. Common sense gun control laws are not enough. Aren't these already in place in many states? As in the UK, US citizens do need to have guns. Cause and effect, chicken and egg, who knows.

Ed said...

I too am in agreement and I’m a fairly conservative person on many issues.

Colette said...

"America needs common sense gun control laws. Period." YES!

Boud said...

It's what we've been saying for decades.

Bob said...

America needs to start caring for longer than a news cycle about these mass shootings.

ellen abbott said...

Well, you know I agree with all of that.

Debby said...

The fact is that the majority of Americans are saying the exact same thing. They feel the exact same way. We have to look at why we can't get this done, and every god damned time it comes down to NRA owned politicians blocking progress. They are Republicans, and every time there is a vote, it divides right along party lines. We need to see this. Every American needs to come to this realization.

NewRobin13 said...

I agree with every word. When will this stop, or will it ever? It's a nightmare that we can't wake up from.

Boud said...

It's the media who move on to the next shiny thing. The people don't.

Wilma said...

There are no easy answers. Even if everyone were working together it would take a multi-pronged approach over decades to make progress. You are so right that a large part of it is folks with mental health issues who have been alienated and ignored by society. I personally would love to see very strict gun regulation similar to that in the UK, but let's face it - that is not going to happen in the US so we better figure out something else.

Kelly said...

One suggestion I would make is to NOT give so much publicity to the criminals in situations like this, particularly sharing the hate-filled websites and chat rooms they frequent.. All it does is increase their "fame" and give them a free platform to share their sick beliefs.

Ms. Moon said...

You said it so much better than I did and you didn't use profanity.

Sharon said...

Exactly how I feel. The fact that certain Americans love guns more than children is mind boggling. So many thoughts swirling through my mind. The hypocrisy of the Republican party is off the carts. They rush to ban abortion because each life is precious but why does that not apply to the living. The U.S. has gone crazy.
P.S. the NRA banned guns at it's upcoming convention, how's that for hypocrisy?

Margaret said...

Nothing will change if it didn't after Sandy Hook. I hear exactly the same things from politicians but the GOP will block any restrictions to these weapons of war and huge amounts of ammunition. I read an article that claimed that the majority of mass shootings don't relate to mental illness. They have more to do with angry and bitter men who can easily get their hands on advanced weaponry.

jenny_o said...

I think there is another aspect to the mental health issue that has not been adequately addressed, and that's the bullying of kids by other kids that sets the stage for the eventual drive to get revenge. Killing people is never the right answer and that's where the supports for mental health come in, but the basic bullying and isolation visited on vulnerable kids precedes that in many, many cases. According to news reports, the teen shooter in the current case apparently lived with his grandparents, they were poor, and the teen was consistently ridiculed because of it. Children are formed by years of bullying - some are formed into adults with empathy because they know how bad it is to be on the receiving end, and others are formed into adults who do the same or worse to others. And while schools are making some efforts to deal with bullying, they are limited in what they can do and, sadly, in some case, in what they are willing to do. And those efforts have to be supported at home (which they all too often are not) and in the larger community.

Aside from that, I couldn't agree more with you on the causes and logical actions to take to stop this from being repeated ad nauseam. The stats are clear. Where there are assault-type weapons readily available, there are mass shootings. Period. How ironic that anti-abortion proponents stop caring about kids' safety as soon as they are born, especially when it interferes with their gun rights (which are a bastardized and out-of-date interpretation of the Constitution in any case).

Allison said...

If we can't ban the AR-15s, at least ban the high capacity magazines. We wish we were younger, we would leave this country.

The Bug said...

I totally agree that we need common sense gun reform! But I feel like the mental health argument is just a false flag to make us veer away from gun reform - mainly because every country has mental health issues, but only one "wins" in the gun wars. It's something to fling out & distract - & if it actually resulted in mental health reform at least it would be doing some good. But the folks who put that idea out there don't really want that either - they just want us to leave their guns alone.

Jessica Hollinghurst said...

Take it back to the time of your 2nd amendment and only licence the muzzle loaders available then thus fulfilling their need for guns but not their need to slaughter. I'm not being glib but the constructive debate needs to start .

Jeanie said...

I keep wondering what it would take for us to do something about gun control -- and I come up against a wall every time. I don't think there will be changes --and I think it will get much worse.

Red said...

The solution is extremely simple. The doing of the simple solution is impossible.

Catalyst said...

Regrettably I doubt it too. And once again let me say how ashamed I am that Paul Gosar is my Congressman.

River said...

I doubt it too. I have to wonder though how will the gun crazies feel when it's their own children lying in pools of blood on a classroom floor? Will they realise it's time to give up guns or will they get a few extra rounds of ammo and 'take revenge'?
It's a never ending cycle I fear and I am very very glad I don't live there.

Bohemian said...

I too doubt it... and, sadly, too many Americans are Gun obsessed and froth at the Mouth of any hint of actual Gun Reform. I'm an American who has lived abroad and realize this doesn't happen in other First World Countries that have sensible laws and restrictions. A Hate filled unarmed person can be dangerous, but a Hate filled or radicalized armed person is definitely dangerous. The weapon is part of the problem, the person behind the weapon is the other part. Neither is being adequately addressed in our Nation... and far too many Politicians have been bought and paid for by the NRA being huge donors who now Own them and they're thus beholden to block any reform... it's a definite conflict of interest that should be illegal.

Steve Reed said...

Mitchell: Republicans seem to regard these attacks as a fact of life.

GZ: Definitely! There's a lot of money coming from the gun lobby.

YP: Unfortunately, of the minority of people who own guns, a lot of them own A LOT of guns.

Jennifer: It does feel that way sometimes.

Andrew: Some states have tighter laws than others, but we need national restrictions that eliminate the disparities between all those patchwork laws.

Ed: I don't think it's anti-conservative to think this way. It's just common sense.

Colette: Amen!

Boud: Absolutely. It's a long-standing argument and it's frustrating that nothing ever happens.

Bob: Indeed. People have moved on from Buffalo already. In some ways that's the nature of news, but we need more examination of the underlying issues rather than just spot news about the latest attacks.

Ellen: I know!

Debby: Exactly. Of course the issue is the guns, but there are underlying structural issues that contribute to the inability to solve the gun problem -- money in elections, lobbyists, social media polarization, etc.

Robin: It does seem that way, like it's a recurring nightmare.

Wilma: I'm not ready to say that it will never happen in the USA. I think we first have to address some deep structural problems in the way we finance elections. But the fact is, most people WANT sensible gun control. It's just that our legislative system is held hostage by extremists.

Kelly: I think media outlets have become better about not giving too much attention to the perpetrators. But at the same time, people need to know where these characters are gathering and sharing their ideas. It's a balance.

Sharon: The US HAS gone crazy. It's true. I hadn't heard that about the NRA convention! Can that be true?!

Margaret: Well, to my way of thinking, anyone who's angry and bitter enough to shoot up a room full of people is mentally ill by default. (Courts may disagree!)

Jenny-O: You are absolutely right about the bullying. Fortunately schools and other organizations have become much more attuned to bullying and the need to prevent it, as opposed to viewing it as merely a harmless rite of passage. But yeah, more needs to be done. This is where better mental health care comes in, I think.

Allison: I often say that problems in America exist elsewhere in the world too (right-wing populist movements, for example). But this is one problem that really does seem uniquely American. The only other countries with such high numbers of guns and levels of gun violence are failed states like Somalia and Yemen.

Bug: I don't mean it to be a distraction. We certainly need gun laws, no doubt. But the mental health component IS an issue, not just in problems of violence but in homelessness and other destabilizing social problems. We need to adequately address what drives mental illness and why people aren't getting the care they need.

Jessica: Exactly! If the constitutional literalists want to take the founding fathers at their word, let's limit those provisions to weapons that existed at that time. I love that idea.

Red: It's frustrating that the answers are so clear and there is no willingness to act. Americans did eventually turn against the tobacco industry. How long will it be until we turn against the gun lobby?

Catalyst: That guy is a monster. He's smart enough to know the truth but he just says what his most extreme constituents want to hear. (Unlike Louie Gohmert, who really is just an idiot.)

River: I have a feeling they would answer violence with more violence. It IS a never-ending cycle.

Bohemian: Absolutely. People in the UK get angry and have their beefs and there is gang conflict and drug-running and similar related crime. But because there are no guns, violence is perpetrated with knives, and the fact is, you just don't see mass stabbings. Guns (particularly automatic weapons) allow killers to kill many, many more people, indiscriminately.

Steve Reed said...

Jeanie: It's hard to imagine how it COULD get much worse! I shudder to think.

Steve Reed said...

Ms Moon: I think you did a GREAT job saying it! I loved the way you (like several commenters here) mentioned guns in the context of the growing hostility toward women and abortion. It is ridiculous and appalling that we value embryonic humans but once they're born we won't do anything to keep them from getting exterminated in a classroom.

sb said...

Thank you for this post. You have covered the whole issue so well.
Sarah in California