Saturday, July 9, 2016

Freeze, Hands Up, Down on Your Knees, Don't You Move: Hell, Don't Shoot

Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Justified and Not Justified Police and Other Shootings
(Click Image for Larger View)

The killings in Dallas are one more reminder that guns are central, not accessory, to the American plague of violence. They were central fifty-plus years ago, when a troubled former-Marine (Lee Harvey Oswald) only to send a coupon to a mail-order gun house in Chicago to get a military rifle he used to kill President Kennedy — the same kind of sniper rifle fired from a Dallas building onto a Dallas street just like the one that shot those 12 police officers, killing five.

Those are central now, when the increased fetishism of guns and carrying guns has made such horrors as Dallas not merely predictable but unsurprising. The one thing we can be sure of, after we have mourned the last massacre, is that there will be another. You wake up at three in the morning, check the news, and there it is.

We don’t yet know exactly by whom and for what deranged “reason or mutant cause” five police officers were murdered in Dallas, but, as President Obama rightly suggested, we do know how — and the how is a huge part of what happened.

By having a widely armed citizenry, we create a situation in which gun violence becomes a common occurrence, not the rarity it ought to be and is everywhere else in the civilized world. That this happened amid a general decline in violence throughout the Western world only serves to make the crisis more acute: America’s gun-violence problem remains the great and terrible outlier.

Weapons empower extremes. Allowing members of any fringe of any movement to get their hands on military weapons guarantees that any normal dispute, political or, for that matter, domestic, can quickly lead to a massacre. Our guns have outraced our restrictions, but not our imaginations.

Sometime in the not-too-distant past, annihilation replaced street theater and demonstrations as the central possibility of the enraged American imagination. Guns allow the fringe to occupy the center.  

The seeming breakdown of normal expectations about violence and public life reminds some of 1968, a terrible year — although, if you think this is like 1968, you weren’t there, since that year was marked by a generational breakdown far more extreme, a continuing foreign war far more violent, and a departing President (LBJ) infinitely more unpopular. But then, too, gun violence wasn’t just incidental but instrumental — pointed, causal — to the breakdown of social order. 

If Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., had not been so easily killed that year with easily available weapons, 1968 would have had a different shape and meaning.

Once again, it can’t be stated too often: despite the desperate efforts of the NRA to prevent research on gun violence, the research has gone on. It shows conclusively what common sense already suggests, and that is: Guns are not just the instrument. Guns are the issue. The more guns, the more gun violence happens.

Now my personal view in these bullet points:
  • Our first step is to recognize that right now we are not and perhaps cannot – that’s the worst part.
  • We used to take pride in solving tough problems whether social, economic, or figuring out how to fly to the Moon safely, land safely, and see a man walk on that surface and return him home safely … we seem to have lost that art and drive to achieve and succeed.
  • Nowadays, when a solution is possible about guns and gun violence, politics blocks most anything even suggested as a possible remedy – not totally, but what most Americans can sign on to.
  • Sadly, those who block anything to do with “gun control” (they consider those two words to be the most-evil words in the English language). Their fight song: “They are coming for my guns.”
  • Worse on top of that rally call is the NRA and most gun nuts saying in unison:  “Guns are my right to own and have and carry, and even in public. Hell, carry openly just about anywhere.”

Okay, I get that, but those with a different view have no right to live a decent and safe life without living under a constant and growing umbrella of fear under the gun as it were (BTW: that is neither a pun nor rhetorical question).

The answer is self-evident. Seems we collectively dare to seek a rational, logical, and common sense solution. At least that is my view from this foxhole.

Think long and hard about the events gun-related mass shootings recently and work to find a solution by first contacting your Rep. in Congress (House and Senate) and let them know you view, what that is.

Flood them with mail and faxes and phone calls – they probably won’t respond unless you offer them something for their reelection, but tell them anyway.

Thanks for stopping by.

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