But we don't want it badly enough. We're not ready.
Blah blah blah. Another mass shooting. Oh, ‘scuse me, several this week. This weekend. Today. Whatever.
At least we’re subjected less to those tiresome social media condolences and ‘our prayers are with you’ crap. Such expressions are all one can offer in the face of utter powerlessness - but they too often come from the mouths (or fingers) of those who would rather parrot platitudes than end mindless unpredictable violence, knowing they, or their loved ones, might be next. If you’ll pardon the graphic imagery and language, they don’t even give a rat’s ass whether their own child’s brain matter will be the next splattered all over classroom walls, as long as Mama’s and Daddy’s precious right to own whatever firepower they want is preserved.
I say this very seriously: Many parents love their politics more than they love their own children.
Pro-life, pro-family, my ass.
The DEI of mass killing
I’m no longer much arsed to pay attention to the mass shooting du jour if it’s just another Angry White Young Male. I paid attention for awhile when it was a black guy, like the Long Island Railroad shooter, or Asians, Indians, or Middle Easterners.
Now that brainless mass killing isn’t just for white men anymore, a newer twist is when a weapon other than guns are used. Toronto’s incel killer, the Wisconsin Christmas parade killer, and the Charlottesville killer all drove motor vehicles into crowds.
Female shooters are always interesting because genuine female mass shooters are rare (the ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ teenager, the California woman who shot up a postal facility decades after it had stopped being cool, and two women who worked with a male who might arguably have been followers). But since 2010 we can add five independently-acting Rambelles to the list, the most recent being Nashville’s Audrey Hale, sort of vaguely transman, who demonstrated that if Republicans won’t rethink their positions on guns when shooters splatter Christian kids, #NoLivesMatter.
Hale’s newer gender identity angle has made mass shootings only nominally more interesting, along with the ‘nonbinary’ guy who shot up a Colorado gay nightclub a few months ago. One identifying as a man, the other as neither, merely a sign that with the growing popularity of invent-your-own-gender-label, more shooters will probably hail from this group. How they identify doesn’t much matter. If they identified as Bugs Bunny and Tinkerbell the media wouldn’t report that a rabbit and a fairy shot up the school or the supermarket. Audrey Hale wasn’t a ‘typical’ male mass shooter; she wasn’t male at all. And the non-binary dude was.
In other parts of the killing fields, racism- and misogyny-based mass murders are growing, reflecting the consequences of our social media culture wars, income inequality and how divided we’re falling.
Gang-related shootings are going gangbusters, if you’ll pardon the tasteless pun, but they get a lot less media attention. Like here.
Instead of pointless and cliched condolences and prayers, now social media platforms fill with post-shooting rage of Americans who blame the brainlessly rigid Republican Party for its rock-solid resistance to anything even hinting at regulating gun possession, ownership or, worst of all, personal responsibility.
But seriously, it’s not their fault.
We the people
We’re still living in a democracy, and extremist attempts to violently overthrow it have resulted in federal elections that are a lot more secure than they were before. We can still vote.
Just as I’ve argued that rape won’t end until women grow some labia to end it - I maintain Americans will end mass shootings when they’ve had enough. Or if. Given that even murdering children now fails to move us to real action, I wonder whether we’ll just continue slouching toward Somalia.
With 162 mass shootings since the beginning of the year and counting, ‘Guns make us safer,’ is an utter, bald-faced lie. Every single country with saner gun laws suffers far fewer mass shootings. We know this, but so what. The evidence overwhelmingly favors stricter gun laws (not a total ban, as NRA hysterics and conspiracy theorists maintain). We know this, but so what. Gun regulation reduces not just mass shootings, but domestic homicides, and especially suicides, ourselves being the most popular target for murderous Americans.
We know this, but so what.
When Republican politicians and their mouthpieces on social media immediately whine that angry Americans calling for stricter gun laws are ‘politicizing an issue to push their own agenda,’ yes, they are—their agenda being one conservatives might have heard of— ‘pro-life’. We’re against murdering people with guns. That’s only a ‘politicized agenda’ if you’re too MAGA-addled to understand that not murdering people isn’t a ‘woke’ thing, it’s an ‘everyone with a shred of morality in their system’ thing.
The primary obstacle to a ‘safer’ society is—the voters.
Americans say they want to end gun violence and what they tell pollsters supports that. A 2019 ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated 89% support universal background checks and almost as many supported red flag gun laws.
This strongly suggests it’s not just woke squishy liberals who want their children to come home on the bus rather than a body bag; a helluva lot of conservative voters must want that too.
Yet still I watch Republicans returned to power, like AR-15-armed zombies that just won’t die. Last year’s mid-terms were real nail-biters with many heaving a sigh of relief when the Red Wave turned into more of a gentle summer’s ripple lapping at the shore.
The Republicans lost power, but not enough to stop them from preventing mass murder prevention. Democrat presidents can’t do much with a GOP-constipated Congress.
Instead, we see dumber and dumber Republican candidates irresponsibly handed power, like ‘Jewish space lasers’ mental basket case Marjorie Taylor Greene, further demonstrating the same irresponsible conservative mindset that gives guns even to small children. Or Lauren Boebert whose videos are so dumb people mistake them for Saturday Night Live sketches. It’s like Republican voters compete with themselves to find candidates even dumber than the last; beating Donald Trump was a tough search but then they brought us nearly-incoherent horror fanboy Herschel Walker.
Arguably, Americans really don’t know what they want any more than women who say they want to end rape but urge victims not to report because ‘they won’t be believed’. Americans may support stricter gun regulation but are more weirdly divided on an assault rifle ban; a similar poll in February this year showed 47% wanted a ban, a nine-point drop since 2019.
Really? We want to end mass shootings but we can’t make up our minds about assault rifles?
Americans be crazy
Here’s a newer trend: The property violation shooting. Now Americans shoot each other over the stupidest shit. A man shot a woman for using his driveway to turn her car around. A man shot a cheerleader for accidentally getting into his car. Some moron shot three adults and a kid when a basketball rolled into his yard. A white man shot a black teenager who was trying to pick up some friends at the wrong address.
And in New Mexico, police also at the wrong address <cue ominous music> shot the armed homeowner who opened the door. Then his wife started shooting and they fired back, although she wasn’t injured.
Moral of the story: GPS! GPS! GPS!
It’s possible the out-of-control crime rate has made people hyper-vigilant. I can understand why. Nextdoor is a Facebook-style social media alternative for communing with others locally rather than everybody. In Toronto, people report stolen cars every day and post surveillance videos of people, usually young men, nosing around their cars, their property, or stealing their Amazon packages.
In Toronto, everyone is suspect. Teenage girls; people of all races; a man in his sixties; middle-aged women. Our victims are pretty multiculturally DEI too. Our crime statistics reflect our demographics, but you won’t see us bragging about it on the news.
If Canada was as awash in guns as the U.S., our body count would be a lot higher.
It may be harder for trigger-happy Americans to argue self-defense. The black kid was just looking for his friends; the cheerleader got shot after she was in her friend’s car, trying to explain her mistake; then he shot her. The man who shot the female driver was tired of people using his driveway to turn around in, and he shot her after she began driving away.
Annoyance is now an executable offense. And police shoot on sight of a gun because, well, they know what Americans are like!
Many of us, growing up, remember the ‘mean lady’ or 'mean man’ in the neighborhood who lost their mind if anyone stepped onto their property, accidentally or not. Don’t do it, kids! Just buy another basketball.
Vote ABR (Anything-But-Republican)
If we can’t change Republicans, we’ll have to change Congress.
This will be a tough pill to swallow for level-headed conservatives who don’t want to think of their own childrens’ brains splattered across blackboards, but don’t want to vote Democrat. The question is, how committed are they to not living in what we like to point our fingers at and call ‘shithole countries’?
There are always independent candidates.
Some conservatives stopped voting Republican after Bush, some after Trump. If they don’t want to vote Democrat or independent, it’ll be on them to find politicians who support their conservative goals and causes, but embrace the need for saner gun laws.
We can’t say we want mass shootings to end if we’re not willing to hold our elected representatives accountable. Otherwise our post-shooting lip service rage on social media becomes as meaningless as mealy-mouthed pieties from the NRA brigade.
You want to stop it? Vote with your ballot, not your meme! And for Darwin’s sake, VOTE, dammit! The ones who stay home are equally to blame as the ones who vote for NRA toadies.
Remember, Donald Trump got elected through a technicality: Not enough people in swing states voting for anyone else, or anyone.
We’ll need to grow some labia and balls and initiate conversations about what the country needs to do to get politicians in place who will stand up to the NRA monolith.
Maybe that’s what we libs can do, engage the not-crazy conservative contingent. Yes, it does exist, just as not every liberal is a Loony Lefty. If we can agree on nothing else, we can at least agree we don’t want to see anyone we love, nor ourselves, murdered or permanently debilitated due to some idiot who should never have been allowed a gun.
We can ask : Who are the top three people you know who you hope don’t have guns? That crazy guy down the street, do you think he has a gun? Which one of your son’s fellow students seems most likely to one day go Uvalde? Do you think arming teachers make it more likely they’ll stop a shooter, or accidentally shoot one of the kids instead? Which is worse, your kid getting killed on purpose or by accident?
Bring it home to them.
Because the ultimate power to stop America’s insane reign of terror lies with us, the voters. Politicians will never stop sucking the NRA teat, so we have to grow the balls and labia to vote for the ones who don’t.
Someone needs to draw the line and say no to the Reasonless Right, and it won’t be ballistic boom-boom babes Dana Loesch, Lauren Boebert or Marjorie Taylor Gunne.
It won’t happen overnight, or even anytime soon, and it won’t happen at all if voters don’t come together on the one issue we mostly seem united on. Rightly or wrongly, real power to end Roe v. Wade began when Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants put their other enmities and theological disagreements aside to work together to end what they hated: Abortion choice.
The power is in our hands, not anyone else’s.
To paraphrase George Bush I, “It’s the Republicans, stupid!”
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