Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Say What?


So why is it that all the systems and regulations that we put into place in the twentieth century, things that enabled a sixty-year expansion and essentially created the middle class, we now decry as bad and all the things that we did away with or successfully regulated to, again, enable that sixty-year expansion we now proclaim as good?

Unions. Bad. Progressive taxes. Bad. Strict regulation of the banking industry. Bad. Unfettered accumulation of wealth by dynastic families. Good. Unlimited access to lawmakers by those who can afford it. Good. Guns. Good.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Murder, Inc.

Murder, Inc.

Hello, gun nuts. I think you know who you are. You're the folks who believe that the second amendment gives you the right to possess whatever the hell you want, no matter how dangerous or destructive, as long as you can find a way to justify it with the words contained in this sentence:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
And here we are. Somebody whose "right to keep and bear arms" was not infringed entered a movie theater and mowed down seventy people, twelve of whom died. On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes armed himself with two .40-caliber Glock handguns, one Remington model 870 pump-action shotgun, and one Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle equipped with a 100-round drum clip. He had 300 shells for the shotgun, 3000 rounds for the handguns, and 3000 rounds for the assault rifle, all of which were purchased legally. In addition, he wore head-to-toe body armor and a gas mask. He opened fire inside a crowded movie theater and killed twelve people, wounding fifty-eight more. Horrific, right? Absolutely. But in a country where 15,000 people are killed by guns every year, it's not even a blip. Here's a graph showing deaths by gun violence, broken down by month:

If you look very closely, you can see that the column for July is ever so slightly higher than the other columns. Fifteen thousand people every year. 1,250 people every month. 41 people per day. Almost two people every hour, murdered. With guns.

Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Does that make any sense to you? What if we rephrase it:

Atomic bombs don't kill people. People kill people.

Sounds fairly loony, right? It should. It is.

One of the fantasies that the gun nuts in our country cling to is that they were granted the right to bear arms just in case they needed to rise up against their own government. Now, put aside for the moment the notion that some yahoo armed with an AR-15 is going to be able to take on a modern military. Focus instead on the antics of the far-right after the election of 2008. They were incensed that someone named Barack Obama had been elected. I will leave it to you to discern the real reason behind their animus. Instead, let's look at the rhetoric. Remember "second amendment remedies?" These folks were talking -- seriously talking -- about mounting an armed insurrection against a democratically elected President because... well, they never did give a coherent explanation. They were just having a temper tantrum because things had not turned out the way they wanted them to, and they were threatening violence. And they were protected by the second amendment, free to amass the weaponry of their choice.

One of their own ultimately unleashed his "second amendment remedies" at a political outreach event conducted by congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

We didn't do anything after that incident, just as we will not do anything after the Aurora incident, just as we will not do anything after the totals for the month of July are posted. Another twelve hundred people will die from gun violence in July and the same thing will happen in August and September and we will do nothing to stop the carnage. That is who we have become. Fifteen thousand people every year, one 9/11 every two-and-one-half months, and we will do absolutely nothing to stop it.