With the ancient Mayans now universally exposed as bad-at-math, it falls to me to write this week’s column. It will be brief, but heart-felt, and, I suspect, not uncontroversial.
In the wake of Newtown, the national consciousness has switched from the fiscal follies du jour to a serious conversation about … something. We may have reached some sort of tipping point, where an issue attains a self-sustaining momentum in the general direction of change. But as the national dialogue begins, we need to ask what IS the issue, really – and what sort of reform should we seek in our urgent quest to ensure that more Americans don’t grieve next week? It is crucial that we get the question right, that we not ask it too narrowly, and that we understand that incremental progress will be denominated in actual lives.
Drew Curtis, the founder of the hugely popular weird news and hilarious commentary website fark.com (your scribe is a Moderator emeritus), is also an astute observer of the popular culture. He has identified what he calls the Missing White Girl Syndrome: among thousands of missing kids at any given moment, the media obsess over that very limited subset. Similarly, it’s easy and appropriate to feel the awful agony of those families in Connecticut – they could be us. It is also tempting to focus reform on preventing shootings at school. But I’d submit that’s way too narrow a focus. At minimum, we need to focus on keeping children -- in general, free from the scourge of gun violence – in general.
Nearly 3,000 children and teens are killed by gunfire, every year. Put in local terms, that’s as if every kid who graduates from all six SRVUSD high schools was gunned-down, every year. Each of those young lives is precious; somebody grieves for every last one of them. And most of those killings did not happen at school. Schools are important as an aggregator of children. But to focus on keeping them safe there, but not everywhere, misses the point. Armed guards in schools? Only if you want to perpetuate – even institutionalize -- the violence problem. It is an index or of how low we’ve sunk that such a proposition would even be seriously posed.
While the causes of American violence are many, and there are powerful interests that will further obfuscate that reality and try to argue that real reform is beyond our reach, there’s also a very common denominator and a pretty simple baseline truth: more guns = more homicide. It’s true in every home, city, state and region in the US, and in every developed country in the world. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html I do not care whether there are 40 million or 300 million guns in this country already – every gun taken off the streets will be another gun that will never again kill on purpose, in the heat of passion, by accident or even in presumed self-defense.
We’ve danced with this violence devil far too freely and too long. Seniors, adults, parents, kids – potential victims all, need to shift the burden to the gun-toting minority to justify and closely regulate their lethal habits.
Happy Holidays – please hold your loved ones close.
Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Dec 24, 2012 at 9:35 am
Interesting first-person perspective, with a great quote that applies to many, many issues, in today's daily New Yorker blog. Web Link
Posted by Ray, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Dec 26, 2012 at 9:52 am
Go to Oakland, Detroit, Richmond,LA and stand on a box. Demand the gang bangers turn in their weapons. Then call the law-abiding gun owners in the morning for ours---oh wait--you'd be dead already.
Posted by Huh?, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Dec 26, 2012 at 10:07 am
"...a gun is the most powerful device there is to accessorize the ego." Truer words were never written. And Ray exemplifies the adolescent fantasy of the "good guys" who believe that they will some day use their guns to shoot "the bad guys" and be heroes. In fact, their guns are more likely to be used to kill themselves or their family members. Don't need gang bangers. Just a bad mood, bad chemistry, a little too much alcohol - and the profound conviction that you're one of "the good guys." The Connecticut shooter's Mom didn't "turn her guns in," did she? Worked out so well for her and everyone else, right Ray?
Posted by cardinal, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on Dec 26, 2012 at 11:13 am
Perhaps take a page from the pro-lifers' book and require a trans-anal ultrasound performed with a 12-gauge side-by-side, as part of the "background" check?
Just a thought.