Thursday, October 1, 2015

On the Other Side of the World: Tragedy in Oregon

I am numb. Inhuman, even. I have read nothing about Oregon yet. It is so commonplace that I cannot react emotionally anymore. I don't want to know the details. Except...

What is wrong with my country? I know people (math teachers!) who think we would be safer if we had concealed weapons in our school for trained personnel to use in the case of an attack. We have had a fire drill, an evacuation and bus-loading and unloading drill, and a lock-down drill at our school already this year. This is the law, I am told. Most of it seems as effective as crawling under a desk during a Soviet nuclear attack. But we live in a country that has had a nearly fifteen year, multi-trillion dollar, outsized reaction to some wacko fanatics who steered airplanes into iconic buildings. How have we not learned that you don't stop lunacy with more violence?

On the day that the crazy mo-pho at Sandy Hook Elementary School sprayed his ammunition killing 26 people, I was in China. On the other side of the world. That day in the Middle Kingdom was also a day of terror. A man walked into a kindergarten and stabbed 23 children and an elderly woman at Chenpeng Village Primary School. Nobody died. The crazy mo-pho at Sandy Hook killed 20 children and 6 adults! That is the difference between guns and knives. Do the math!

My former wilderness trip camper from an expedition that I led in 1997 is now, also, a former officer from the US Marine Corps. He shilled for the NRA and Remington for a while after his active-duty tours and now makes videos with our flag draped behind him. I respect the guy and like him, but I think the NRA is for crazy people. Though I have friends who hunt and a deep, long-standing respect for subsistence cultures (the Cree and the Woodchucks who fill their second freezers with venison and geese), I am starting to resent boys who "need" their toys (except guns really are not toys) being allowed to dictate our national security policy.

President Obama submitted to Congress in early 2013 a gun violence plan that included proposals like these:

  • Universal background checks for all gun sales
  • Passing a new, stronger assault weapons ban
  • Limiting the size of ammunition magazines 
  • Banning civilian possession of armor-piercing bullets  

This is just as "imbalanced" and nutty as the NRA.  I signed a petition supporting it, because it's a beginning and maybe it is part of a larger strategy. He wants to limit bullet clips and access to guns, which nobody in more civilized countries is even allowed to own. Small potatoes! Thinking this will solve the problem is like thinking...no, it is not like thinking at all.

It is access to guns of any sort that is the problem. Strict constructionists of our living, breathing 18th century founding documents will claim that there was never a time when America did not have guns and that my heroes--men like Hamilton of Weehawken and Washington of Mount Vernon Plantation--wanted us to have guns. So what? I am on a fishing trip for red herrings. "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." Well, I rebel..peacefully in the political world. I do not need the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" to protect me from my government. Come now, what should I do? Take down my Brown Bess and hang a nuclear weapon above my fireplace in its stead?

Failure to act now is akin to letting Caesar bring his armies into the city. It will be a major contributing factor to the downfall of our empire. Rise up, ye good citizens, and repeal the Second Amendment.