Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shootings in Connecticut

Well, in this past week we've seen a gunman go nuts and shoot people at a mall in Portland, Oregon, and then a few days later a gunman went nuts and shot his wife, a kindergarten teacher at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.  And then shot 20 kids.

So at least two of my high school friends know people who lost kids in this shooting.  That brings this shooting closer to home than some of the various ones that have happened over the years.  Of these massacres, Columbine is the most famous, since Michael Moore made a documentary as a response.  I found the one at Virginia Tech disturbing, since it came shortly after I had interviewed there, and because one of my academic sisters had had a position there (though I found out she had left before the incident).

Man, this editor is annoying.  What does it take to get paragraph spacing????

Anyhow, I don't see a substantive difference between these single-day rampages and the sniper attacks back in the Fall of 2002.  In all of these cases we've had a crazy guy (or guys) with a gun, running around shooting people.

In my opinion, it's a bad idea to have so much commercial and entertainment culture centered around glorifying guns.  I don't see any real need for automatic weaponry to be legal.  I mean, aside from the archaic constitutional requirement.  But rather than try to squeak through some kind of legislation that will run straight into the opposition of the NRA, I think we need to fight some wars on the culture front first.  We need to ramp down the paranoia of the Tea Partyists.

Any time that gun control is mentioned, the gun nuts start talking about how that's what the Nazis and the Soviets did to have a monopoly on weaponry.  But really, what is the bigger threat these days?  Children being shot by gun nuts or our federal government marching on its own people.  (And, bizarrely, these gun nuts are the same people who endorse making our military the most powerful in the history of the planet.  Do they never see the logical disconnect?  They don't want the government to control the best weapons.  But they want the government to control the best weapons.  Perhaps they don't think the armed forces are part of the government?  Who knows?)

So, no, I don't care that some guy in China went on a stabbing rampage and wounded 22 people.  The gunman in Connecticut killed 26 people.   A room filled with unarmed people has a much greater chance against a man armed with a knife than a man armed with a gun, especially if it's a semi-automatic weapon or something more powerful.  (Remember the hijackers of United 93 didn't have guns.)

Guns facilitate violence.  They make it easier for one person to do a lot of damage to a large number of people.

The other disconnect comes down to just who has the guns.  Right-wingers are so paranoid about "government" that they think there is some kind of fundamental difference between the government having guns and random people on the street having guns.  For some reason, they prefer the latter scenario.  I think it all comes down to an inability to see oneself as part of a larger society.

Just what would have happened in that theater shooting if some random bystander had pulled out his gun and started shooting at the idiot who walked in on a killing spree.  One more shooter, lots of chaos in darkness, and who knows who the good guys and who the bad guys are?  There is a great American fantasy about individual citizens using their guns to fight crime.  But that kind of chaos leads to lawlessness, and Trayvon Martin lying dead in the street for the crime of being black and high and having a case of the munchies.

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