Sunday, March 25, 2018

gun protests

Last month, my younger son returned to the United States after a year's worth of National Guard deployment in Sinai. In one sense, he returned from a culture of guns to a culture of guns.

To my delight and his despair, he had not been stationed in a hot zone -- a place where bullets proved whatever today's muscular point of view asserted. Largely, he was bored stupid and despaired of it. How could his idealistic view of "service" be met without the threat of tragedy, of wounding, of death? What a bummer. Interesting how much of tragedy and idealism are cocooned in lethargy and boredom.

Yesterday (3/24/18), thousands of young people, attended by their sympathetic adults, rallied and wept across the world. Guns were not an acceptable means of addressing dangers supported by those who claimed to find guns unacceptable. It was too horrific -- shooting kids in schools and elsewhere. It had to stop. Massive rallies ... many tears ... heart-felt emotion ... and yet lethargy and boredom lingered serene and assured along the edges of an eruption of something-must-be-done.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chanting “never again,” hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month’s Florida high school massacre and rallied across the United States on Saturday to demand tighter gun laws.
In some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations for decades, protesters called on lawmakers and President Donald Trump to confront the issue. Voter registration activists fanned out in the crowds, signing up thousands of the nation’s newest voters.
At the largest March For Our Lives protest, demonstrators jammed Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue where they listened to speeches from survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
While my son had been away, the U.S. had passed a tax bill that improved the lot of the obscenely wealthy. Arms manufacturers -- Boeing, General Dynamics, drone makers, and other coupon clippers -- got a big boost. Killing brown people abroad was acceptable and even enjoyed a certain cachet in American ghettos. Make America great again ... but shooting kids in schools meant your kids and mine were at risk.

Enough! Sort of. The government could not find a way to advance the cause of peace -- health care, infrastructure, climate, student debt et al. -- so it fell back on the old faithful -- the threats of "terrorism" and war and scaring those who, a moment ago, had been horrified.

How I wish I had a solution. How I wish I could stand above it all and declare some sort of victory over violence as a response to life's hardships. How I wish I could exempt myself from complicity. But I cannot. I am glad my younger son has taken the trouble to get a gun license and, more, a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Why? Because it is my strong feeling that at some point there will be a stand-off between those who have and those who have not. A literal stand-off in which the 'haves' will deploy the police who will (again) act as their proxies. It'll all be legal, but that doesn't mean it will be just or digestible and going unarmed ...

Congress is conveniently out of town as yesterday's rallies disperse. Will these 'representatives' return and respond to thousands of marchers? If they do, what is the payoff? If they don't, what is the payoff? Perhaps the unbridled venality of our representatives is an exact representation of the electorate it represents ... even the most delighted of liberals.  Mona-Lisa fashion, lethargy and boredom offer a small and meaningful smile. The politician-purchasing National Rifle Association and an everything-has-a-price-tag president like Donald Trump suggest that the odds favor a refocusing of objectives and a forgetfulness among even the bereaved.

I wish they wouldn't insist on killing my kids, but, as the old reminder used to go, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

I am too weak to parse and think this issue out with clarity. It is no consolation that I am not alone.

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday I posted a comment about the protests in Washington D.C., in reply to someone - clearly from the pro-gun ownership camp - who had questioned the whole movement, fearing perhaps it may lead to loosing its guns. I replied to the comment, saying "you may question what change is needed, but
    considering kids are dying in schools, can you reasonably question the need for some kind of change or expect any change to happen without public pressure?"

    Like you, I can hardly see a solution, maybe because we know the root-cause of these shootings is far deeper than "gun-ownership". These shooters are like the pressure escaping from the valve of a pressure pan of decaying public mental health and education. Sure, restricting access may make it more difficult to vent out their frustrations in such a damaging way. More difficult, but not impossible.

    The fact that the issue has become so politicised - as in party-politics - really doesn't help. Gun owners are not listening to these "left-wing libtard" protesters, fearing to lose their right to bear arms and defend themselves but also because anything coming from the left has to be trash. Protesters are not listening to gun-owners, fearing to lose their children and because anything coming from a mostly conservative Bible-belt crowd must be nutcase stuff.

    In the midst of all this not listening and consequent violent bickering, the real problem remains unadressed while many potential remedies remain elusive.

    My guess is that, given this scenario, the situation can go two or three ways:
    1) little to nothing changes and the growing decay of public mental health will result in the escalation of violence. Growingly frustrated people due to collapsing economies and with easy access to guns can hardly result in something else;
    2) in the absense of public common sense (I really don't expect it to improve in the next decades), legislation, technology and industry will be pressured to offer solutions to prevent chaos, like better and more regular background checks (like credit companies already do), limiting access to more dangerous guns - like SAs - to people with longer and clean track records (level-up for bigger guns, like in online gaming) and maybe built-in location chips in guns for public use, that will allow authorities to track weapons in real-time and warn them, should a gun come close to public areas. We're already tracked through cellphones. Still, there would still be a whole arsenal of weapons without such technology for a long time.
    3) Governments will end up outlawing gun-ownership.

    I can imagine the third possibility being the hardest to deploy in the U.S., given that gun-ownership is written in its constitution.

    Sometimes, I feel like all these films about blood-thirsty zombies are a pretty good metaphor for the current messy state of our collective mind, for which there seems to be no cure in sight.

    To be very honest, I've always kept my distance from guns, but these days I'm starting to feel that I would rather own one, just in case one of these violent zombies breaks into my place. However, where I live, they are banned for the public, unless your profession demands it. And when I think that giving me access to a gun might imply a whole bunch of growingly frustrated people having the same access to guns, I'm left asking myself whether the potential benefit might be seriously outweight by the risks.

    Either way scares me like hell.