When a set of Goth-inspired high-school kids decided to kill students and faculty members in Columbine on Tuesday, April 20, 1999 the ghastly effects plunged America's Moral Police into action. That angry shooting rampage left 12 students dead and one teacher and 21 others injured. And when the same thing happened at one of the nation's prestigious universities again the hand-wringing and selective analyses began in non-stop mode for a week. Then nothing. Until the next bizarre and tragic event. Last Saturday a young, bright member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was among 20 people shot -" six fatally -" by a lone gunman just 22 years old, who exercised his constitutional right to "bear arms" and used or abused that right by shooting into a defenseless and lawful assembly.
And so the spin masters, pundits and newscasters were all out in full force salivating over this latest tragedy giving tantalizing tidbits about the life and times of the alleged killer, Jared Lee Loughner, and his apparent crackpot propensities that added color to the tale of mayhem and murder in a shopping mall. As the scale of the violence unfolded Americans were glued to television screens as every twist, position, and spin were explored and exploited by reporters and cable networks.
Conveniently left out of the national conversation was the proliferation and frequency of mass killings by people with easy and unrestricted access to guns. That and our culture of violence.
Today, violence is a national pastime and is as "American as apple pie." From gladiatorial sports that breed violence in young men to wrestling as entertainment to Hollywood's new computerized gory and graphic violence, to a children's cartoon show named "kick butt," violence is more prevelant as a commodity of daily American life than the much touted and sainted apple pie. But nobody wants to admit it.
Just as nobody wants to upset the apple cart by stating the obvious: there are way too many guns in private hands and access to them has become easier than ever. That's going to have the Second Amendment nutcases fly into an unreasonable tizzy and the National Rifle Association (NRA) rushing to the bathroom with a runny belly. So we dance, play hop-scotch, and do the politically correct jig around what is the most important issue while playing ostrich and burying our collective heads in the sand lest the NRA and its coo-coo klatch blows them away with a trusty 12 gauge shot gun or an AK-47 Assault Rifle. Hey, what's a right for if not to be exercised?
So now we come to the Arizona massacre and suddenly political pundits and their masters realize that this state is one of the most gun-friendly in the nation and must be relishing its former role as a gun-slinging Mecca immortalized by many a swaggering Hollywood Western flick, maybe starring John Wayne. America's addiction to violence, especially gun violence, is so chronic that even old movies like "True Grit" nostalgically bring in huge box office revenues even after more than one remake. We just can't get enough of guns and killing.
Heck, even the wounded Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, once said that she was a proud "Glock-carrying Democrat." That she was shot by the same gun that she so loved is sad irony indeed. But the conversation about guns and gun ownership should be one that Americans welcome and not go ballistic about with images of their government seizing their sacred weapons. It is time that we drag ourselves into a modern era where gun ownership by the citizenry makes no logical sense. A Glock is not a hunting weapon. It is used to kill or wound people -" period. And in the Giffords' assassination case an extended magazine has no civilian purpose since that convenience finds use on battle fields where having more bullets in a magazine may be a matter of life and death.
Still, the absolute idiocy and illogical thinking that "guns don't kill -" people do" is part of the misinformation garbage tossed out by gun lovers rabidly mouthing off the talking points of the NRA and is both confusing and mindboggling. It is as if this knee-jerk automatic response to gun violence is standard operating procedure for any and everyone who dares to even think gun control - let alone regulation. And the intelligently sane have long concluded on empirical evidence that the more guns in the community the more homicides by handgun will be the result.