Everyday Life

Another Day, Another Gun Massacre

This time it was in a Connecticut elementary school, not very far from my home. The local and national news together are overwhelmingly depressing. I feel despair and powerless: such brutality, and Americans have kept on arming themselves, with support for gun control diminishing.

Why? Perhaps it is because too many of us confuse fictions with facts? On this issue the NRA view of the world seems to dominate. Consider this blast from Deliberately Considered’s past, the story of a preteen sharpshooter defending her home in Butte Montana. Gun advocates make up there own facts to justify their position that guns yield personal and public safety.

A fact free world provides the grounds upon which outrageous judgments are made. Charles Blow cited one today:

“Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, wasted no time trying to pin Friday’s shooting on gun control advocates. ThinkProgress quoted a statement of his that read, in part: ‘Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to ensure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones.’ ”

How is it possible for someone to imagine let alone utter such words? Following their logic, and the sort of pseudo-evidence it is based on, “the fictoid from out west,” perhaps the answer to school violence is arming kindergarten kids. David Frum, indeed, in a tweet sarcastically declared: “Shooting at CT elementary school. Obviously, we need to lower the age limit for concealed carry so toddlers can defend themselves.”

And then there is the magical power of prayer. Mike Huckabee: “We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

Gail Collins, my favorite columnist, turned off her sharp wit today to express bitter outrage, reflecting on this and other statements, “looking for America.” She didn’t like what she was seeing.

I want to believe that change is coming. I think there is an opportunity. I am convinced that the election results represented a change in American public opinion and commonsense. Yet, I know that the changing opinion has not included guns and a serious critical response to the violence in American life up to this point. Public discussion has shifted in the past twenty years from gun violence and control to the second amendment and gun rights.

I think that it is in this context that President Obama’s moving response yesterday should be judged. Heartfelt and sincere, he expressed the nation’s grief, but he also promised a change. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” I wonder whether this is a real opening to a renewed public debate.

There are good reasons to be skeptical. Since Gore v. Bush in 2000, Democrats, including Obama, have been increasingly reluctant to take up gun controlBut Obama suggested that he may move against this reluctance, pointing to the hard facts of atrocity.

Now is an opportunity for leadership. If Obama in fact does address the issue of gun violence and control in the coming days, it will matter. It will start a serious accounting, providing the opportunity for citizens and their leadership to think beyond fictoids and nutty opinion. I hope this will include both Republicans and Democrats. News flash – Rupert Murdoch just tweeted for gun controls. People are pushing as I write this post. (See this and this, I am sure there are other important efforts.) Obama has had good political reasons to be cautious in the recent past, but elections matter only if and when they are acted upon.

  • http://susanais9.spaces.live.com susanai

    Liked this a lot, subject was awful. Crossing fingers Obama can start something against guns but why is it that the NRA is never held to count? Why is there not huge banner headlines on front pages asking “why is NRA not held accountable for these atrocities?” I find it a bit unfair to blame the pollies.

  • joeyman9

    If it wasn’t for NRA Endorsement you wouldn’t have had the 1968 gun control act, which prevented people from ordering guns directly from the factory and receiving them from UPS, and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

    This will not change until the drugging of kids is stopped (this did not
    start to happen until the 90s – when the drugging of students on pharmas really took off), people accept personal responsibility for
    their own security and those placed under their charge, and schools are
    not constructed like prisons that little kids can not get out of (those classrooms are locked down and no one can get out of them. In
    modern schools, the windows are sealed, too high or not there at all so there is no way to run out of a classroom that is locked down). I really do not understand why
    anyone would work at a public school. It’s just too dangerous,
    especially if security is contracted out to third parties that will show
    up minutes after it is needed.

  • pharmacist1952

    Mr Goldfarb, no law of the land can prevent what happened in that elementary school or the theatre in Aurora. Now, that all states should follow the same laws on gun control? Yes.
    That outlawing high capacity magazines would reduce the number of casualties in an incident like this? Very likely.
    Nothing can be done to prevent bad guys from getting their hands on guns or to keep guns out of the hands of folks with mental deficiencies. We can make it harder by raising the price of illegal guns, armed security in schools, more thorough background checks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alankwells Alan Wells

    We’ve had guns around since I was a kid in the fifties, but only recently have people been committing mass murder with them. Guns haven’t changed. What has? I’ll start: violent movies and video games, misogynistic rap lyrics, welfare, drugs, kids without two parents (that would be a man and a woman) and a reluctance to discipline. Not all of these will be found in all cases, but I think we should review those changes. Perhaps we’ll find something. Oh, and arming teachers are a quick and cheap way to limit the carnage should it occur, while we research better solutions.