This post rambles a bit, and there's not a thing funny about it. In other words, it reflects my current state of mind.
As we watch horrific events like Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 unfold, we wonder how any human being could do such a thing to another. It seems the madmen of this world are constantly trying to top themselves.
The sad story that is contemporary life has new chapters added all too frequently; on Monday a man walked onto the campus of Virginia Tech University with two handguns and shot 32 people to death before killing himself. The massacre took place over several hours, and over a wide area of the campus.
I’m beginning to think that Andy Warhol’s statement about everyone being famous for 15 minutes should be changed to: Every American will have his/her own "crazed gunman" encounter at one point in their life. That somehow seems more relevant now, though fame may well accompany the latter in the form of victimhood.
Just two weeks ago a man shot dead his ex-girlfriend in broad daylight at CNN Center. Remember that one?
Both sides of the gun control debate will naturally come out strong in response to this tragedy. Some will no doubt inexplicably cite this incident as an example of why we need prayer in public schools, and/or how violent video games and movies are sending us to hell in a Prada handbag.
Many of those same individuals will dismiss any responsibility for how their own NRA-card-carrying asses have contributed to making a culture of violence so easily sustainable. They will use the tragedy to bolster their position that people need to be able to have guns so they can defend themselves from such madmen.
Florida lawmakers are trying to make it a crime for employers to prohibit their employees from coming to work packing heat. It certainly would be nice to have a gun handy in case you go over the edge one day and decide to take your coworkers out, eh? I imagine some of the people who opposed the public smoking ban here because it "takes away business owners' rights" might even support this puppy, without irony.
In Virginia, where the latest shootings took place, guns and ammunition are extremely easy to acquire legally. This includes assault weapons, which serve only one purpose: to kill a lot of people, fast. The VTU shooter didn’t have an assault weapon, but imagine if he had! Who needs these weapons, no matter how cool they seem, or what some think the Constitution says?
President Bush must know, as he was uninterested in renewing their ban when it expired in 2004. In response to this week's tragedy, he issued the following statement through a spokesperson: “The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.”
That the president’s first instinct is to pander to his gun nut base is telling and troubling. It’s completely inappropriate for him to have even addressed that, especially so soon after the tragedy. That he felt the need to put that qualifying language at the beginning of the sentence shows where his loyalties lie. And he's not the only one.
By the way, the president doesn’t giving a flying fuck about any or "all laws" – they don't apply to him, it seems – his overly obvious, simplistic statement notwithstanding.
The gun lobby in the United States is way too powerful, and I don’t see any sensible changes coming to our gun laws anytime soon. For the foreseeable future, I think we are screwed. We are stuck with this unacceptable situation.
From 9/11 we learned that we need to take terrorism seriously and put much stronger emphasis on national security; will we take a similar lesson here? If terrorist attacks lead to security reforms, will gun attacks lead to gun reforms? Will high-powered lobbyists allow that to happen? Will people who haven't properly read the Second Amendment allow that to happen? Will lawmakers grow a pair and take on this issue, even though it may not be the popular thing to do, but it's the right thing to do, as they've told us in many a keynote speech? I'm not holding my breath, lest I end up with those poor souls at VTU.
It becomes clearer to me every day that our nation is run by gun nuts and God nuts who see no contradiction in being both. To coin a phrase, God help us.