Entries in USA (2)
Full disclosure. My husband is a Coloradoan. He grew up in Colorado. He proposed to me there. We spent the first year of our marriage in Denver. It's a beautiful city and it is close to both our hearts. I am proudly, an American resident. Our children are American.
All of the gut churning images here are posted from the Boston.com pictoral essay on the Aurora Co., massacre. Each picture links to their site.
I read a beautifully poignant quote this week which paraphrased, "[American's think of] mass murder and spree killing the same way they conceptualize natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes; it's just a thing that happens and can't be stopped."
An utterly haunting sentence. I've pondered it. Ruminated. Concluded, he's right. He is horrifyingly correct. This IS what happens.
The stories that have followed the harrowing cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado are as heartbreaking as they are frustrating. Frustrating because it's the same scene, played out again and again. Colombine. Virginia Tech. Sunnyvale Ca. Red Lake. The University of Texas. We've seen them here in Australia too, with the Hoddle St and Port Arthur massacres. And more recently the world saw the carnage in Norway.
Each time, we collectively draw in a breath of shock and deep dismay. Then, the crowds gather for the vigils. The sorrow is palpable, yet the faces all read "This is awful but what can we do?" Some set up donation funds to funnel to the victims and their bereaved families. The outpouring, overwhelming. Yet NO ONE in any real position of Governmental power seems to have the temerity to just say, "Call me crazy, call me a heater - but hows about we ban those SINGLE PURPOSE AUTOMATIC & SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPONS?" There is no other reason they were made. You don't need to fire 100 rounds to kill a deer. More than 2 rounds in to a turkey is going render it, mince and if you need to reload to shoot a meaty bear, perhaps shootin's not your thing? Automatic and semi automatic weapons sole reason for existing is to kill another human. During war, ostensibly. If I'm wrong, please, I'd like to hear it.
Instead, we find ourselves, again, at that great American Impasse -"You'll have to pry my ridiculously overpowered fully automatic weapon from my cold dead (wait for it) hands. Don't you go messin' with my Second Amendment rights, Missy!"
I'll pause for a moment to point out when the Constitution was quill and inked, the most powerful weapon at hand was a single shot musket which took roughly a minute to load, fire and reload before you could fire it again. And I can assure you, you couldn't just wander into Ye Olde Walmart and pick one up, one damp, pissed off afternoon.
From here we move smoothly into the "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" chatter. Yes Jethro, nice point. People kill people - MOSTLY WITH ADORABLE FLUFFY, BABY DUCKLINGS?
You should see the statistics for the amount of people killed by people with wildly inappropriate military grade firearms. It'd make you take your hat off, hand over heart while you took two seconds to pray to that god you insist is real... but I digress.
Actor, [Larry David impersonator] Jason Alexander wrote a thoughtful piece about his dismay at people who support public ownership of assault style weapons like the AR-15 used in the Colorado massacre and posted it on his Twitter account Some of the replies are deeply, deeply disturbing and I challenge any single one of those responders to actually have the hefty swaying balls to repeat what they said to Jason, to any one of the victim's families. To ANY victim of gun violence. It's asinine.
So, what CAN you do?
After Australia's horriffic Port Arthur Massacre, Australia, under federal government co-ordination all states and territories of Australia banned and heavily restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading and pump-action shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use. The government initiated a "buy-back" scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million which was funded by a temporary increase in the Medicare levy which raised $500 million. Media, activists, politicians and some family members of victims, notably Walter Mikac (who lost his wife and two children), spoke out in favour of the changes.
So that is A Something that can be done.
We're not idiots. We understand it's not going to stop someone snapping and going postal. It's not going to eradicate violence on our streets. But it might make it a little harder. How is that not a Good Thing? You like Good Things, don't you?
I'm so gut wrenchingly taut with frustration at the endless bullshittery of "violating your constitutional rights" that if I could get my hands on a gun... Did the people who were killed not have the right to stay alive? How is your Gun Right more important than their Life Right? Can you even pretend to answer that?!
Of course the other issue at hand is not only a quandary of the USA! USA! USA! but a world wide pandemic. The issue of Mental Illness. I hope it becomes clear this gunman/mass murderer has some form of mental illness. It's not an excuse. It doesn't make it "ok" - how could it?! But it's a sniggering point. "Oh I bet he claims insanity."
Generally, people don't snap and decide, "Fuck it. I'm gonna kill a bunch of people at the movies" overnight. It is usually a long process of depression, oppression (perceived or real), isolation, plotting, and desensitization to violence. The stigma associated with mental illness is crippling. And in America, the actual financial cost of diagnosis and treatment is in most cases, completely prohibitive. But that's always been a thorn in my side when it comes America. And now many of the victims of this Aurora tragedy lay in hospitals, in ICU with life alternating injuries. Many of them lay there without insurance. They lay there, facing the inevitable barrage of unpayable bills. This shouldn't be a factor in their recoveries. The very least they should be worried about is, "how can I afford to get better?"
We, as a nation of people have to stand up and say, Enough's enough. BAN THOSE ASSAULT WEAPONS.
Then next we can work more on that Health Care thing that every other developed nation has a grip on. No one system is perfect, but America, yours is deeply, deeply flawed. Don't you think you deserve better?
Take another look at the faces of the people in these photos and tell me you don't. If you have a beating heart, you can not.