As long as there is a disillusioned, disconnected or disaffected white man anywhere in America with access to an assault rifle none of us are safe. This should be a hyperbolic statement laden with political partisanship but it is perfectly factual. Who amongst the victims of the shooting massacres of the last month expected to die that day? Going to an outdoor concert festival or going to church to pray and worship God have never been dangerous engagements before- but they are now. Mainly because of guys like this gathering places are NOT safe anymore.
Most of us who still venture out only make it home because we got lucky. We only go out because we put the horrors of mass shootings out of our minds so we can function. As a practical matter, we live in a state of denial over random gun violence and mass killings.
Like many fathers, I take my teenage son to the movies a few times a month and the only reason why we haven’t been shot and killed is good fortune. He likes superhero movies like most kids his age- Spiderman especially. And the sad reality is that a few dozen people died one night in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater not too long ago because they feel about Batman the way my son feels about Spiderman. Surely, those folks who went to enjoy their favorite superhero and wound up being shot to death did not see it coming. No more than the people who were shot and killed in the movie theater watching their favorite comedian Amy Schumer’s movie not too far back. One minute they were enjoying the movie and the next minute they were gone. All because some guy felt that his anger and frustration was so profound that the whole world needed to feel it and suffer for it- and also because he could get his hands on weapons designed to put down a military insurrection bent on overthrowing their government.
Their lives came to a bloody, brutal and terrifying end and they had absolutely nothing to do with it. And it just as easily could have been any one of us.
It is an article of faith in progressive politics that because guns are extremely dangerous, they need to be controlled by the government. This effort has led us into perpetual combat with the conservative article of faith that the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution is sacrosanct. We have been fighting that fight for decades against conservatives who want NO regulation of firearms whatsoever because the National Rifle Association will run them out of office if they give an inch. For the NRA its like they found the lost 11th Commandment stating:
Thou shalt not regulate or suppress the development, acquisition, use or proliferation of firearms!
So there’s the political fight: progressive legislators in one corner, conservatives and the almighty NRA in the other. The best fighters know when to adjust because they are losing or when to just dig in and fight a war of attrition. Punch-drunk fighters on the other hand have been getting hit in the head so much they can’t see straight, much less think straight. So if their heart is in a fight they just lunge forward with no real plan or chance of winning. Progressives need to make a decision here and now about what kind of fighters we are going to be when it comes to guns in America. Up until now, we have been the latter but there may still be time to repurpose ourselves into the former. If there is time to do it, it’s not much. Our way of life could truly collapse under the weight of this new reality of a gun-massacre every month. Denial can carry us a long way but it has its limitations.
Most of us knew when the Sandy Hook shooting came and went without any action from congress and without any ballot box punishment from voters that the fight as we knew it was over. We lost badly because our expectations of the voting public were just too high. A nation that could witness twenty little kids massacred in their 1st grade classroom along with their teachers and do absolutely nothing is irredeemable- at least on this issue we are.
All of this time we have been trying “take the high road” when debating this issue but it is painfully clear that if there ever was a high road it has been demolished and is closed for repair. All that is left is the low road of placing blame and pointing fingers and that is the only way we can even hope to turn the tide. We are simply not going to win any political fight over restricting access to firearms unless we loudly and directly blame those who refuse to even try to stop gun massacres from happening. And that is the argument that sticks:
YOU REPUBLICAN COWARDS ARE NRA PUPPETS AND YOU ARE NOT EVEN TRYING TO STOP THESE MASSACRES.
Fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth and the truth is they are making NOT EVEN MAKING AN EFFORT.
We should have done that long ago because, as distressing as it is to admit, America has gotten used to these shootings. Evidently, the stale statement “our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy” has been enough to soothe the wounded masses. So far, that is all it has taken to move on to another news cycle and another election cycle. But this recent uptick has opened the door. And we better bust through it like the DEA at a suburban meth lab.
So embrace the low road and place blame, point fingers and politicize.
Nothing else has worked but this just might. At this point, what in the hell do we have to lose? Because if we lose, all evidence says that gun massacres are here to stay.