An Unwanted Holiday Present

By on December 19, 2012

Sandy HookThe events in Sandy Hook, Connecticut have an eerie familiar feel to them. Troubled youth, young people shot and killed, families mourning, concerned citizens horrified, voters wanting a change in culture, the Republican Party again putting the interests of some large monied business at the top of their list of priorities. The contributing business interest in this case is the people who make and sell weapons and artillery, everything from military tanks to “Old Betsy” in the broom closet. What has happened to this once honorable Party?

Through their lobbying front The National Rifle Association, gun manufacturers  have been very good at floating their Viet Nam-style ‘domino theory’ to a confused group of amateur hunters. “Today its someone’s bazooka or AKA machine gun, tomorrow it’s your Red Rider BB gun.” It’s somewhat unbelievable, but the NRA has gotten a lot of mileage out of that little horror, and “guns don’t kill people, people do,” as though people have the ability to fire 30 rounds of high speed artillery out of some body part.

mgsThe troubling fact is that this special interest group, which used to promote gun safety, has access to a lot of money which they threw around in the election of 2012. Luckily they had only fitful successes, but enough to hamper reform. Unfortunately they have potent allies in the right-wing Supreme Court which seems to place business interest above the greater public good. In business and the marketplace, it is the transaction or the sale that is king. In society human well-being and fair play factor in. Did we learn nothing from the Romney candidacy?

terminatorI respect the rights of amateur hunters, but I also do not believe the founding fathers wanted to see this country turned into a 24-hour shooting gallery. I don’t think they had a special place in their heart for gun collectors. And I certainly don’t believe Jefferson, Adams and Franklin wanted to see every citizen turned into another Terminator. The numbers of violent crimes in our cities and now suburbs are way above that of any other civilized western country. Mayors in these cities are crying out for federal help, and not getting it. What have we done to ourselves?

We cheer in westerns when the law-and-order sheriff gets the warring factions in the town to surrender their guns at his office, but we grow confused in real life when law-enforcement officials might try the do the same. Until we can make up our minds, the events of Sandy Hook will stand as American business-as-usual, and another sad story among the many.

JackPIn the 1980’s the country decided it didn’t want to pay to institutionalize the mentally disturbed. We said the community health centers would manage this, and over time took away their funding because we did not want to pay for that either. So we have oodles of guns everywhere that are easy to obtain and many mentally disturbed people out and about, many homeless, that we want to ignore. In the end you get nothing for nothing. Those who want to pay nothing for but benefit from all its various services and protections are deluding themselves. We all have our own entitlement mentalities, the difference is what each of us thinks we are entitled to.

deadsquirrelI know many amateur hunters, but none who would argue that their right to shoot deer or squirrel is more important than the lives of Jack Pino and Noah Pozner. We can blame whoever we want to for the carnage at Sandy Hook, but in the end, we are to blame for this. We have relied on others to do something about out-of-control-guns, and then been indifferent when our time came to stand up and support them.   We need to pick up the phone or email our gerrymandered Congressional representatives and tell them they are out of a job if they don’t stop serving large business interests and start serving the interests of those who elected them. The first to go should be the Congressman who said that Sandy Hook would have been avoided if the teachers there were all armed. Why not arm the kids as well? Stupidity like elections should have its consequences.

tearsThe time for tears is now over. Tears will do nothing for the many victims of random gun violence in this country. They comfort no one in the end. They bring no one back. They cannot compensate for the loss of the expressions of joy that come from young faces at this time of year. They will not replace a little smile around the tree this Christmas that will be missing in some Connecticut homes. Only positive, courageous and intelligent action can help the next victims of the next Columbine, Aurora, Phoenix, Richmond, or Sandy Hook that we all know is coming. The gift of action is the gift that we must be giving this season.


Tom Godfrey

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