I update this story when there’s another mass shooting. I’ve been complacent, largely because they are so common.
Over the past couple of weeks, though there have been two. One in Georgia that had eight people killed – six Asian women. The other was yesterday in my town, Boulder that left 10 dead including the first responding cop.
In both of those cases, the suspect was arrested. Today the Boulder bad guy was identified. He has an Arabish sounding name and he’s from Arvada. If you’re not from around here, that’s a suburb between Boulder and Denver. Maybe I should have been thinking about all the victims, God rest their souls, but what went through my mind was, “That’ll bring out the nut jobs. Now anybody with brown skin will be seen as a terrorist bent on killing white people.” He’s luck he’s not Black. He would have been splattered all over the frozen food aisle.
We’re a gun culture and nothing will change that.Nonetheless I’m growing tired of all this.
I suppose the positive is the out pouring of care – random people wanting to donate blood, heroic acts by strangers, prayer vigils, flowers left at the scene, public officials decrying the action, social media memes.
I’m not going to list them all, but in 2020, there were 615 mass shootings in 2020 that resulted in 521 deaths and 2,541 injuries.
Before the Texas 26 and 40 wounded, were 59 dead and 500 wounded in Vegas, before that it was Congressman Scalise shot while playing baseball this summer.
Before that, it was the June 2016 Orlando Massacre – 49 dead and 53 wounded.
Before that was in October 2015 at Umqua Community College in Oregon that was shot up by another twisted buy with 14 weapons in his apartment.
Rather than more laws, how can the culture change?
There’s an excellent scenario that played out in Manhattan with huge impact. Prospective first-time gun buyers get their wake up calls about gun ownership. Watch it here.
The anti-gun lobby should take a page out of the anti-abortion playbook.
The anti-abortion lobby works hard to change the culture through grassroots efforts. It can’t pass laws that ban abortions, but put up roadblocks like strategic public shaming.
The pro-gun lobby says that more laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of anybody, let alone crazy people.
I acquired my hunting rifle from a friend. When I gave up the sport, I traded it to a guy who did some tile work. I had a box of shot gun shells that I used for a movie prop and sold those at a garage sale. Guns and ammo are easy to come by – whether you’re crazy or not.
I have to agree with that, particularly with 300 million civilian guns in circulation. One size does not fit all.
The crazies and bad guys get guns regardless of laws. The United States government is the largest consumer of firearms in the world, so it’s not backing off guns anytime soon.
The politicos think that keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people is the answer. All crazy people have access to guns, but not all crazy people have access to mental health services.
That makes sense from a rhetorical standpoint, but I don’t know how politicians decide who’s the craziest, though.
Who’s crazier, Trump or me? It’s a toss up.
It may be a personal choice to access mental health care services, but part of creating a new culture includes a social environment that makes seeking mental health services socially acceptable. Depression and other mental diseases are coming out of the shadows.
The POTUS 2018 budget slashes funding for mental health services which doesn’t exactly encourage people to seek services which are scarce. In 2019, there were 434 mass shootings result that resulted in 517 deaths and 1,643 injuries.
There’s TV footage of the Boulder shooter being hauled off by a couple of cops. When a guy like that knowingly goes into a grocery store with an AR-15, that’s a public health issue.
While I’m sure that everyone personally deals with events like this differently, there doesn’t seem to be very many who are interested in creating the social and cultural change necessary to end gun violence. I’m one of them, being an ardent Chicago P.D. and Law & Order: SVU rerun watcher. Violence on TV hasn’t moved me to go down to the Pawn Stars shop and buy a semi-automatic weapon and shoot up a movie theater.
Compared to anti-abortion zealots, the anti-gun group members don’t show the same long-term passion.
Before buying a gun, maybe prospective purchasers have to watch a video with bloodied up shooting victims. How about public shaming and protests in the rights-of-way of gun stores or on the public sidewalks in front of the Walton family homes.
Like the anti-abortion lobby, the anti-gun people should be grooming like-minded people to put in for appointed and run for elected public offices.
I’m thinking that in the final analysis, the only people who get involved in trying to change the gun culture are those families and friends directly affected by the death or injury to a friend or loved one.
That’s a pretty small number of people and they can’t do it alone. The anti-gun lobby needs to come up with a higher purpose for their end game.
After Vegas, there was a country music guitarist, Caleb Keeter who had a wake up call after playing at the concert that night. He tweeted “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment all my life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was.”
Knowing his market, he may well go the route of the Dixie Chicks.
After the most recent Boulder and Georgia massacres resulting in eight dead, the jaded me doubts any legislators will put forth much effort beyond strong emotional responses, particularly since nothing happened after the 59 dead were sniped in Vegas, 49 were gunned down in Orlando, 27 school kids and teachers murdered in their school, nine South Carolina church goers shot in the back, another nine gunned down in a community college classroom. I lose track.
Here are three ideas to help change the culture without having to take anyone’s guns away since that’s not happening any time soon:
Short Term: Go to the shooting range and take a hunter safety class – The United States is a gun culture. If you don’t want to fire a gun, at least go to a gun shop and handle one – they have a distinct smell, they are heavier than the ones Detective Benson slings around. I used to be a hunter, but that experience gave me an appreciation for the power of guns and a realization that animals don’t stand much of a chance against them. I felled an antelope, shot at a few deer which was enough for me – it was a right of passage for a Wyoming guy. The country was founded on violence. The Constitution was written with that in mind – preserving and protecting citizen rights over that of the government – not storming into people’s houses, innocent until proven guilty by the government, right to privacy.
The last thing the government is going to do is take away people’s guns. That’s a scare tactic, but a successful one since the gun lobby continues to grow and the sale of guns is out of sight, despite nobody taking away any guns.
Medium Term: * Civil Rights Laws – Unless authorities uncover some hidden agenda behind the recent Georgia and Boulder massacre shooters, what about an “asterisk civil rights” class? Acting strange and owning guns do not rise to the “probable cause” threshold. People who are observed to have weird behavior, say odd things, post crazy facebooks posts need to put on some sort of “watch list”. After Orlando, in 2013, I heard a news guy talking about this on the Today Show. He asked Trump’s Homeland Security czar about what it would take to “asterisk” civil rights laws so that anyone like the latest Florida terrorist could continue to be watched and monitored even if there is no probable cause determined. I think the only time limited martial law was approved, was by the antebellum Congress at the time of Abraham Lincoln.
Long Term: Reapportionment – the US Census will be completed in 2020 and new US congressional districts will be drawn as well as state legislative districts. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of independent redistricting commissions taking gerrymandering out of the political process. This is an opportune time to create competitive state and national districts and balance when considering potentially divisive legislation.
If you didn’t read this story last time which was 2016, or this time in 2021, I’ll rewrite the lead after the next massacre.