Last week, six people were shot to death while at church. There’s a good chance you’re reading this and had no idea the incident even occurred. After all, it didn’t happen at a midnight screening of a blockbuster Hollywood film. It didn’t involve costumes. And only six people died.
Also, it didn’t happen at a Baptist church. The victims weren’t blonde and blue-eyed. In some cases, English was not their first language. And perhaps most importantly, that god they were worshipping didn’t have “J.C.” for his initials. So who the fuck cares, really?
Well, I do. I care that six people were murdered in their place of worship, allegedly by a neo-Nazi asshole who was perhaps taking his feelings about Muslims (totally sane and justified feelings, of course) out on some other “foreigners” who also happened to be wearing turbans. And I would care even if this weren’t a religiously and/or politically motivated hate crime. I care because six people are dead. Countless lives are shattered.
And all because of a gun. A gun that the perpetrator got legally, I should add. Totally and completely above board for him to garner a weapon that allowed him to commit such a heinous crime with relative ease.
This is what we are forced to live with in this country. The lies that we believe and reinforce because we’ve heard them so long that we just don’t know any better. “Guns don’t kill people.” Well, sure. Not on their own. But they exist because of humanity’s desire to kill. And Americans in particular have a certain love for these devices. A reverence for them, even. Guns are part of our culture, they say. So much so that it’s perfectly acceptable, and even expected, that little children will play with toy guns. Boys especially. I’ve been told that little boys are just born wanting to play with guns. Bullshit. They’re born into a society that worships guns. A society that gives a movie a “G” rating even when gun violence is involved. A society that tells them that shooting a toy gun is no big deal because that need to shoot is just natural and necessary. And, hey, it’s fun to shoot things! Make sure you remember that throughout your lives, kids! It’ll come in handy when you get a little pissed at the world and learn that, since you haven’t yet committed a crime, gun stores and gun shows are your own personal playground. Buy them up! Use them to kill! The Constitution says its okay!
I read somewhere that the trade-off for feeling safe (owning a gun) is that our children, our friends, our families, our neighbors, will sometimes be senselessly murdered. We can make guns safe and teach people about them, but nutballs will always be able to get guns, so we just have to deal with that because the Second Amendment gives us such a liberty. We’re apparently willing to accept such a raw deal. That’s evident every time a shooting like this occurs. Or at least every time it occurs when the victims are predominantly “real” Americans. People bring flowers to the makeshift memorials. They talk about the dead. We get dozens of eyewitness accounts. We hear more and more details about the “alleged” shooter. Some politicians or activists get up in arms (so to speak) about how we need more guns, or we need fewer guns, or we just need better restrictions.
And then we all too quickly forget. People go about their lives. To say that Americans have short attention spans is like saying we could stand to lose a pound or two: it’s a huge understatement. But we have to try to remember. And we have to focus on the fact that we’re not hearing a lot of stories about people being murdered en masse by criminals with knives or bows and arrows or any other type of weapon. We’re hearing about guns. Because there are so many out there and because we just keep pushing the idea that this weapon in particular is so vital to our existence as a free people, even when there are so many people out there who, because of guns, have lost the most basic freedom of all. The one “inalienable right” that’s listed first in the Declaration of Independence.
It’s sick. And wrong. And it has to stop.