This has been a big week for craziness involving guns and gun violence. A sixteen year old boy arriving at the wrong address to pick up his siblings was shot in the head through the screen door by an 85 year old man and was then turned away at three houses where he stopped to get help. A young woman was shot and killed when she pulled into the wrong driveway, and two teenaged cheerleaders were shot when they accidentally got into the wrong car. A child and her father were playing basketball and when the ball rolled into the neighbor’s yard, he shot them both. All of this is in the week just following the NRA convention where every Republican Presidential candidate spoke.
One of the speakers I heard was the Governor of South Dakota who was advocating gun use and ownership. She claimed that even her two year old granddaughter has a gun (and a pony named Sparkles.) Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show commented, “Sparkles, run for your life!”
The gun fanaticism in this country has been an issue forever, but it feels as if the rhetoric we are hearing on the news is amplifying the fear we have of difference and of each other. Fox News insisted that Trump won the election creating greater divisions among people, and have now had to pay money and apologize for lying. They make money by spinning yarns that frighten and divide people, so no doubt they will continue doing so. Cha-ching!
Michael Moore made a film some time ago, Bowling for Columbine, that explored how the media created fear in its audience: fear of other races and religions, fear of people with LGBTQ orientation, and of people who think differently than we do. They beat the drum of environmental disaster, but do not emphasize how we can make a difference. Fear and anxiety in the US feed our gun madness. Other countries don’t have the same gun madness and fear that we do in the US. One scene in the film shows Moore in Detroit ringing doorbells and finding that people were too scared to open their doors. He goes across the lake to Toronto and finds that Canadians not only open their doors readily, but often don’t even lock their doors. They don’t stockpile weapons, nor do they have a murder rate approaching our own.
Every day it seems that there is at least one mass shooting in this country, and yet politicians are unwilling to legislate even for banning assault rifles. Fanatics insist that the second amendment protects their right to bear arms, even though the arms that were guaranteed when the Constitution was written were muskets, not assault rifles. I’ve heard more than one person say that the government is planning to seize all the guns in America, (impossible!) and so they buy even more guns to protect themselves from imaginary politicians who might want to take their guns. I love a meme that I saw online: I choose second graders over the second amendment. But there doesn’t have to be a choice! Let’s advocate for sensible gun control. No civilian should have an automatic weapon!