Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Remorse Code

On my drive home Friday, I was listening to the radio and heard someone mention that they had been crying all day over the murders of children in Connecticut. At the time that struck me as a bit odd, perhaps melodramatic. I had been in school all day and although the news had given me a heavy, dark feeling, I hadn't yet unpacked its significance. I could see feeling bad for them, but crying? Especially since this feels like the millionth time something like this has happened in the last few years.

When I pulled up to the house, my wife Candice was parked out front, with my daughter Lucy perched quietly in her car seat. Lucy is a doll baby, but she almost didn't seem real she was so serene and peaceful. Later, when Candice was making dinner, she insisted on being carried, even though she's almost two years old and a lot harder to hold than she used to be. At one point Candice put her down and walked away. Lucy ran to her and jumped into her arms. Sitting there watching my daughter, it struck me why the death toll was so high. As deadly as guns are, usually it takes a bit of work to kill a person, unless the assailant has specialized training or high caliber weapons. I hadn't heard much about what the suspect was carrying, but seeing my daughter pumping her little arms and legs to get to her mom, it struck me: those children never had a chance. They were too little to run. They were terrified. And that realization made me cry. Hard.

That's when I think I started to get it. Well, really there's a part that you never really get. You just are left with a bunch of pieces that don't fit. So here's some pieces:

I talk about narratives all the time because the stories we tell about the world and ourselves have a lot to do with the things we do. Usually in situations like this where innocent Americans are killed, we start the war narrative and declare war on someone or something. This would be easy if Al Qaeda had broken into a kindergarten and shot up a bunch of kids. We'd call for scalps hijabs immediately. No Muslims allowed within 100 feet of school. Send those prayer rugs through the x-ray scanner. Or let a Mexican "Illegal" shoot up a preschool. Churros would be removed from the lunch menu and we would secure our schools with 100 ft. border fences. Or God forbid the perpetrator was a brother. One in three Black men might end up in prison. Oh wait, never mind

But alas, it's not that easy. Those narratives have next steps that involve building things and bombing people, but this one is tough. What do you build, who do you bomb, to protect you from a white man with a gun and a plan to kill? That's even more tough because so much of our understanding of the concept of "hero" is tied to a white man with a gun and a plan to kill.

It's important to understand that, in the words of Malcolm X, the founding fathers were White nationalists. This country wasn't built for White men to take a back seat to anyone, but things are changing. The most obvious sign occurred in 2008, but the erosion of white power has been coming on for some time now. Believe it or not, there was a time in human history when the white man wasn't running everything. It seems that this era is coming to a close. (Not that the political and economic infrastructure will stop serving the interests of the elite; the packaging will just be darker.) This change makes some people anxious. Many of these individuals choose to soothe their anxiety by buying fire arms.

If you are someone who claims the 2nd amendment will protect you from the tyranny of your government, yet you choose not to vote, you are an idiot. No one has an inalienable right to fire arms, especially those who won't participate in the system of government that secures their rights. Besides, how is a Glock going to protect you from a government that can send a predator drone to your house? A

It's also ironic that government operatives have used the firearms of citizens to murder those who would challenge government tyranny. See: MLKjr, Malcolm X, JFK, RFK, to name a few.

Gun control never goes anywhere because too many people are making money selling them. The advertising for their product is on every TV, movie theater, and game console. Weapons that kill people was a $38 billion industry in 2012. That can buy a lot of political ads.

So, maybe we preserve the right to bear arms, but eliminate the right for corporations to make millions producing guns that cause so much misery. Like Chris Rock said, if you really want to stop gun violence, make a bullet cost $10,000.

If the President does take gun control on, he's going to have to push back his whole agenda. Disarming this white man is going to be a tall order. They're not giving up their guns. And it wouldn't be a stretch to say that pushing tougher gun laws would make the President more of a target. Justin Beiber ain't even safe these days. Honestly, I fear for NeO. 

Talk about product placement
But I think he has to take it on. Half measures aren't going to work here. No more commissions or investigations or studies. After 9-11, we signed away half of our civil liberties--you know rights guaranteed by the Constitution? People grumbled but didn't say much out of fear of being called unpatriotic. But why is this right untouchable? I'd rather give up my gun then allow the government to tap my phone calls without a warrant.

And I know that the easiest win will be to eliminate the access to high-caliber semi-automatics, but that's not what's killing the kids around my way. NeO mentioned kids in Chicago who were victims of gun violence, but our children are being wiped out by small handguns that are cheap and powerful. If you can't get people to give up their guns, you've got to find a way to make it more expensive to get them.

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