It was a weary-seeming president who stood at the podium in Newtown CT last night.
The weight of the world was on his shoulders. You could see it in the demeanor of the first responders as well. Those devoted to keeping us all safe, couldn’t. A commander in chief hasn’t been able to put a stop to the trend that is redefining us as a country of murderers.
But irrespective of our other differences, of the pretty words of rabbis and priests, I hope with all my heart that we are united in the belief that we cannot permit ninja-style assassins to take out our children any longer.
Many of us have pondered the fact that the US leads in worldwide mass shootings. Certainly the availability of assault weapons with amped up magazines is the direct reason. There are no contortions of logic required to comprehend that there is a straightforward cause and effect relationship here.
No background checks, and cold hard cash placed on the pawnshop counter and presto: someone who should be locked up somewhere is armed.
Yes, it is about the widespread availability of guns. But it also seems to me that it is about the abuse of liberty, the abuse of freedom, the much touted Second Amendment. The perversion of the Constitution.
It is about low-bottom reckless people in under-evolved areas of our country who think it’s cool to run around talking violent bullshit and packing. It’s about the identity politics of the black gang, the white militia, the white supremacists, the barrio kingpin.
We have thousands of overgrown children in this country who bear responsibility for passing on their trigger-happy attitude and their over-hyped idea of what it is to be a real American on to their kids.
We have people like the shooter of children– smart and very screwed up kids who go nuts, grab their mother’s Bushmaster rifle (rather mind-blowing that a woman living alone with an ill son would have such a weapon) and shoot out the window of a school to take out twenty kids and six grown women.
So it becomes an issue of whether we’ve all had enough. It’s not about getting better at mental health assessments or background checks: it’s about getting rid of guns.
Since Friday, I’ve been thinking of this analogy. When alcoholics hit bottom they are faced with a choice: to keep trying to make booze work for them or to give it up.
Nobody stays sober who hasn’t reached the conclusion that he or she cannot safely drink Being sober isn’t about a fairy tale God removing the need for a drink; it’s about taking control of your life, taking responsibility for the mess you’ve made and getting it that if you keep going you’ll kill yourself.
In the same way, we’re hitting bottom on gun ownership. We’ve demonstrated, we the people of the United States of America, that we can’t be trusted to own guns without doing terrible things with them.
I can tell you that if I kept a bottle of booze in my house, it would call to me. It would beg me to drink it. It would make me pine for the delicious obliteration of my immediate reality that happens when a good jolt of booze hits my brain.
But when I drink the mega-margaritas in my favorite cantina down the road, I keep going. I do things like ride a horse without checking the cinch so that when I dismount the saddle slips and I rip my right leg out of the stirrup which then fractures. I end up in a nursing home for half a year and then with a mis-healed, deformed leg so that I can only walk about twenty feet with a cane, and have to use a wheelchair.
When I get drunk, I become rageful. I grab a knife and play cat and mouse with someone I love, causing him to fear and loathe me, and to decide not to marry me after all.
That’s a pretty expensive bottle of tequila.
I end up in booking, smiling for the camera, in a cell with other scared lawbreakers, waiting out the hours until I can bond out.
I propose that we are similarly addicted to guns and power in this country and similarly hitting bottom.
We tell ourselves we’re keeping a gun around in case someone breaks in.
And then in a heated argument with a family member, likely one in which everyone is drunk or ripped on meth, we lose our cool and grab a gun and pull the trigger.
The Newtown Massacre is in a league of its own and every sane person prays that this is the defining moment that makes our politicians brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby– that Diane Feinstein meant it today on Meet the Press when she said she was going to get a new ban on assault weapons passed. That Obama will rearrange his priorities.
Because we have collectively proven that we can’t predict our behavior or control ourselves when we own guns. We are in grave trouble, as a country.
There is nothing noble or valorous about gun violence, or any other kind. If we don’t stop, we are going to destroy each other, and there won’t be an America left.