The first breaking news headline on my smart phone seemed to say it all in only two words… ‘Active Shooter’. I closed my eyes and let out a sigh. As an American, I’m very experienced in what was going down. A mass shooting. I then read some more. ‘School’. ‘Details unclear’. ‘Developing story’. “Oh Brother” I said aloud. “When will we ever learn.” It was both a question and a statement of complete frustration.
I wondered how this one would turn out. Would there be piles of bodies or only a few students dead? High schoolers or toddlers this time? It’s amazing how we establish a reference line for our school shootings, simply to gauge their severity when they happen again in our country. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland… these are the ones we remember for their rivers of blood and chunks of bodies. The other ones which left only a few students dead, we forget almost immediately. After all, in America, there are so many shootings at schools, churches, night clubs, movie theaters and concerts — how can anyone remember them all?
An hour later, the magnitude of our latest school shooting was becoming apparent. ‘At least 8 dead’ read the next headline. ’10 people have died,’ read another. ‘Exchange student from Pakistan among 10 killed at Santa Fe’. ‘9 students and substitute teacher killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas’. So this was kind of a bad one, with 10 lives lost. But most of us will still forget this shooting eventually because as horrific as it was, we know that others in our past have been worse, and others, still to come in America’s future because of our inaction, will surely be even more horrific. Only 10 dead means we sort of got lucky this time. As with past shootings, It will fade from view in a couple of weeks when it’s eclipsed by the next news item… in a couple of weeks. Or so I thought. I was not prepared for what I woke to the very next morning.
Not even 24 hours after the Santa Fe High School Shooting, USA Today had 5 stories about Megan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding appearing before any mention of the Santa Fe shooting. CNN had 15 stories (!) about the upcoming royal wedding appearing on their page before any mention of the Santa Fe High School shooting. NBC News had the first story spot on their page devoted to the Santa Fe shooting, but was followed by 3 stories about the Royal Wedding. ABC News had 8 stories about the Royal Wedding ranked before any mention of the shooting at Sante Fe High School. The Washington Post had one story about the upcoming Royal Wedding listed before reporting about the Santa Fe shooting.
With the blood of children still gooey in the hallways of Santa Fe High School, our trusted news organizations report on a royal wedding before updating us about a mass shooting. Nothing against The Royal Wedding mind you, but what, in the name of all things holy, is the matter with our United States of America??
I’d been able to contain my emotion until I read about Sabika Sheikh, the wonderful exchange student from Pakistan who was brutally murdered in the attack. My heart just weeps for her. I feel bad for all the victims, but in particular, this time, I find myself grieving for Sabika. Her family allowed her to come to America to study in our state of Texas, and she will now return to them in a coffin. America is well-known for its gun violence and Texas is well-known for its armed citizenry under the most relaxed gun laws in our nation. As it turns out, these should have been three red flags for Sabika’s parents, yet they wanted her to have the experience of learning abroad. How could they have known they were exercising fatal judgment when they let her board the plane for America? We’ve killed our own children for the sake of our Second Amendment rights and now we’ve killed someone else’s.
By now of course, her parents have been informed, and I wonder what could we have said to them? How could we possibly have explained it to them? The importance of our gun rights vs. the death of their beautiful, irreplaceable Sabika.
I am unashamed to be ashamed of my country right now.
We’re an embarrassment to the world and Friday’s shooting just proved it with the death of Sabika Sheikh. Completely missing after this shooting is our usual shock and outrage, and the reasons are simple: Nobody is shocked. Nobody is really outraged. If people feel anything, it’s resignation and they shake their heads in sadness. Everybody has become numb. Everybody has ‘been there and done that’. Everybody has previously invested their emotions – time and time again — and has lost the farm in the process. Everybody knows by now just what will happen — Nothing. The NRA will eventually release a cloud of flatulence and the politicians will line up to inhale it… then they’ll tell everyone it smells good. Good enough for America. Everybody is resigned to this reality we call ‘Life In America.’ The situation is played out and experienced so often it’s now a ‘given’ that it’s hopeless. The NRA and their supporters will blame everything but the adoration of guns, which exists in The United States of America and which thrives like weeds consuming an otherwise beautiful garden.
There’s not the slightest doubt we have a gun culture here in the USA which values the enjoyment of shooting bullets through barrels more than it values the sanctity of human life. Let’s not litter this pasture with pasture pies: It’s all because they enjoy guns and don’t want to give up their ‘hobby’. They know it and we know it.
Too many Americans worship guns, thanks to an amendment our forefathers drafted 242 years ago when black powder muskets were the cutting edge of weapon design. Our forefathers had no vision whatsoever of the types of firepower that would be available to its citizens two centuries hence. Our country was born of rebellion against tyranny and well-armed militias were key to winning our war of independence. That fact is celebrated annually in America every July 4th. It’s sort of what makes America, AMERICA! I get it. It’s how our country began, and it was a great thing. But things have changed in the world since 1776.
In defense of gun rights, supporters cite the language of our Second Amendment even though its merits have been obsolete and irrelevant for centuries. No citizen militia could ever be a match for our or any country’s armed forces. No AR-15 would ever be of value against tanks or bunker-busting bombs. Just forget it. It’s simply stupid to think otherwise.
What we have in America are a bunch of people who love any guns they get their hands on, and who know their ‘hobby’ is protected by our Constitution and our Bill Of Rights and they selfishly milk it for all it’s worth. Their selfishness knows no boundaries. They know people die because the wrong kinds of firearms get into the wrong kinds of hands, but as long as they can go out into their back fields and obliterate pumpkins with their AR-15’s, that’s all they’ll ever seem to care about. The more kooky ones among them actually do believe – despite the most common of common sense — that if they had to, they could overthrow a corrupt government with their small arms against our country’s massive forces. So willing they are to be patriots, so willing to be the modern day ‘Minute Men’ in what they fantasize to be our country’s continued war of independence against a tyrannical government. It is an absolute sickness. During a discussion, I had one angrily tell me once with his finger nearly touching my nose, “Well, at some point in time you have to get out of the tank, and that’s when we’ll get you!!”
Why do these people only see our government as a potential or probable adversary? It is in the way they think, which allows their sickness to live. They envision America as a place where everyone walks the streets packing heat… pistols on ‘tactical holsters’ on one’s person, assault-style weapons hanging from shoulder straps.
This is their vision of America, and as far as I’m concerned, they can go to hell.
I do reluctantly believe that guns can be justified for protection against robbery, assault or other crimes. (I say ‘reluctantly’ simply because I wish situations could be otherwise.) I also believe that if people truly want to shoot animals for sport, or need to shoot animals for food, they should be able to own firearms for hunting. But in no case do I believe that large clips or magazine capacities are justified, and in no case do I think assault-style weapons should be legal. But apparently such capabilities are fun to have, and apparently such weapons are fun to shoot… so here we are. Protected by an obsolete amendment which has nothing to do with reality.
The Second Amendment needs an amendment. You want guns? Fine. Let’s just cut down the firepower available, and ban things like bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. Forget that stupid argument about a ‘well-regulated militia’. It worked well in 1776 but it hasn’t been valid for a very long time. You want freedom to own guns? Great… but as you always say, ‘freedom isn’t free.’ Let’s see some licensing, some mandatory training with psychological testing. Let’s close that ‘Gun Show Loophole’ while we’re at it. Drop that ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ argument as well… because all those mass shooters were law abiding citizens until the moment they squeezed the trigger.
What can we do as a nation?
We can think for ourselves and recognize the reality before us. We can shift our opinions about people who worship guns in America to the point where we find them disgusting and repulsive… because they really are. We can reject their assertions that guns are what makes us American, because in fact, they are not what makes us American. They are what makes us stereotypical Americans, and that’s nothing to be proud of. Blind, arrogant, overly patriotic, racist, bigoted and gun-worshipping… that’s how the world sees Americans.
Those who worship guns in America have a flawed vision of how America ought to be. We can reject their vision of America in favor of our own and fight them. Only when (and if) our lawmakers see such a dramatic change in public opinion regarding guns that they fear losing their seats – only then will meaningful action take place.
I invite you to do your own research, you needn’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself which party is the obedient and submissive bedfellow to the National Rifle Association, then vote the other way. Vote only candidates who have taken the strongest stance against the NRA and the gun worshippers in this country. If you are tired of mass shootings and what the Republicans tell us, then you will make the right decision at the polls.
The only true weapons we have in our country are our voices and our votes. Use them with forethought and with passion. Guns are not the solutions to mass shootings in America, they are the cause of mass shootings in America.