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We can't wait.

On Friday we lost twenty children all at once.  In twenty five minutes a collective 1,500 years of future life was lost.  These children left their clothes on the floor Friday morning and their parents will have to pick up knowing that it is the last time that they'll do so.  They left dvds in the DVD player that will shuttle out and surprise their parents weeks from now.  Their breakfast dishes were still in the sink on Friday night and a mother or a father washed them for the last time.   The grief in Newtown is powerful and overwhelming, but we do not have the luxury of time that allows us to  wait until we've properly mourned these deaths before talking about gun control.

The mourning periods between gun assisted mass murders are stacking up on top of each other.  They will suffocate us if we wait.  

We need to do this now.  We need to have already done this because today another 38 children will be shot.  8 of them will die.  30 of them will be scarred for life.  They won't get shot all at the same place or all by the same person, but they will be shot.  7 have been shot since I started writing this.

Tomorrow, another 38 children will be shot.  Each child's death, each murder, suicide, or accident doesn't just kill the child, it kills the whole family.

We cannot wait any longer.

But the discussion needs to go beyond simple gun control.  The discussion needs to be one of societal change, of cultural revolution.  We need a Kuhnian shift in thinking in the United States of America.

But gun control is where we have to start because gun control works.

There is a strong correlative argument for the efficacy of stricter gun control laws and articles like this one are useful to point to as we engage with those who will inevitably argue that gun-control is pointless or ineffective.

The article also points out that most gun violence in our country happens to darker, poorer children than those gunned down on Friday.

I teach in Watts where gun violence has taken on all the trappings of the banal. We all see it, hear it, talk about it, sense it, and have codified our ready reactions to imminent threat into the workaday elements of our daily routines. This is true for teachers and for students.

Guns are as much a part of life as cancer.

Gun control will make a real difference with our kind of violence.  If guns are harder to get, fewer people would have them.  If guns aren't available easily across the line in Nevada and at gun shows, Californians will be safer.  Our violence could be greatly reduced by a shift in national gun policy, but our violence is not the violence that worries people.

Our violence in Watts just kills poor people, so hasn't inspired national discussions about stopping it.  Instead we have national discussions about making sure that the rest of us are armed so we can shoot poor people, too.

We need gun control.  Gun control laws are necessary for the protection of all people. Trigger locks, waiting periods, bans for assault weapons and armor-piercing rounds, the end of open carry, the restricting of concealed carry, are all necessary steps that must be taken if we wish to protect Trayvon Martin, the innocent kid who finds his father's gun, the victim of mistaken identity, the victim of domestic violence, and curtail the impact of street crime.  Gun control laws can also mitigate the amount of damage done by future Adam Lanzas, but they won't stop rampage killings.  

Gun control will save children, but it will more likely be children like Ulysses Gongora, a former student of mine gunned down while walking his brother to school.  Gun control might have kept David, Derek, Darryl, Donald, Isaac, and Justin -- all of whom are students of mine that have been shot in the last five years -- from becoming the walking wounded.

But what happened in Sandy Hook, in Wisconsin, in Aurora, in Portland, in Tuscon, and in every mass shooting in history is different and I think we make a mistake when we collapse the metric and treat them as simple gun violence.  They are a type of violence that is made worse by the easy access to guns, but just as with our banal violence in Watts, there is a root cause for this exotic violence, too.

Some of the perpetrators are insane and a return to the pre-Reagan laws regarding mental health commitments would be a step back towards national sanity and public safety.

But many of these killers know right from wrong. They know what they're doing -- Dylan Kleibold and Eric Harris knew. The Wisonsin shooter knew. I bet this guy knew, too. Otherwise he wouldn't have killed himself in the end.

Rampage killings are different from our stupidly personal Watts violence because they are not committed in response to an immediate threat, an error, a possibility of personal gain, or in pursuit of the prevention of a loss of prestige or power. These mass shootings are instances of de-indiviudualization where the targets are not targeted for who they are but for what they represent.

They are the product of a deadly combination of fear and entitlement which makes them closely akin to hate crimes except that their targeted minority is humanity.

And just as we understand that the root of hate is fear, we must begin to acknowledge that fear is a root cause here, too.

No, they aren't afraid of their victims.  They aren't acting in a perverse self-defense.  It's just that people can only be afraid for so long before fear spoils, ferments, and becomes the acid rage that fuels hate.

This isn't news.  This was the point of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine.  We all talked about it a decade ago, but we haven't changed.  

We were shocked to learn that Canada had just as many guns as we did because their murder rate was so low, but we didn't make any changes to our national character.

Gun control laws can and will make a difference -- especially in neighborhoods where gun violence doesn't make national news -- but until our nation stops treating fear as a virtue, we will continue to support the mindset that leads both to our national arms fetish and our willingness to use those armaments against innocents in order to make a point.

Reposted from my personal blog.

Originally posted to Eminently Credulant Musings on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Money and character (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xajaxsingerx, Agathena, mungley, CT yanqui

    I agree with everything you have said: we need to stop gun violence, we need to advance our national character.

    Money plays a large role in this.  Guns and bullets are manufactured and sold for the profits of the gun industry.  The more guns and bullets sold, the greater the profits.  

    A system of government that allows the wealthy and corporate interests to buy the law-makers and the laws they want is also at work.  As the gun industry seeks to increase their profits with more gun and bullet sales, they insist that our state and national legislators remove impediments to gun and ammo sales and make carrying and using guns in public more acceptable (cf. stand-your-ground laws).  Our law-makers, eager for the financial gifts provided by the gun industry, are happy to oblige.

    In order for us to get our law-makers to listen to our calls for greater public safety and health, we have to come up with a greater amount of money than what the gun industry gives to our law-makers.

    Or seek to change the inherently corrupting system that requires our law-makers to solicit and receive private "campaign donations" in order to function as our public servants.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:26:06 AM PST

  •  You mention Canada- (4+ / 0-)

    which seems like a good jumping-off point for comparison and discussion. I only checked wiki, but it seems they do not have as many guns as we do- the per capita numbers were something like 88 guns per 100 people for us and 30 per 100 for Canada. Still a lot of guns though.
    So I looked at the wiki page for Canadian gun laws:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    I haven't had time to read it in detail, but my overall impression was that there was a lot to like. Mandatory gun registration, limits on the capacity for semi-automatic weapons, regulations about storage etc.  There's a lot more and it could be a good place to start a discussion.

  •  Exactly. (3+ / 0-)

    While mass-shooting focus attention on the problem, they are a small fragment of it and I keep trying to stress that.

    Guns kill.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:43:20 AM PST

  •  Just because I don't know where else to... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, LSmith, Vetwife

    ...drop this link:

    Saturday's shootings continued a violent several days in Alabama.

    ...Investigator Dennis Green of the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office told the newspaper that the three gunshot victims in the triple killing were males but authorities did not immediately identify them further. Green also said a child under the age of 2 also was hurt and had been taken to a hospital in Georgia.

    ...Hours earlier on Saturday, Jason Letts, 38, of Jemison opened fire before dawn at a hospital in Birmingham, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer, according to authorities.

    ...In the Alabama community of Homewood, police continue to investigate Friday's slayings of a 30-year-old woman and her two sons, ages 4 and 5, at the family's apartment.

    This country has gone insane.

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:07:39 AM PST

    •  I agree with every word of this diary and Rich (0+ / 0-)

      I am very familiar with Cleburne County.   That is a border town in Alabama, and where our future daughter in law was murdered and gunned down in 04.  It is drug infested and full of crazy along with racists.  It is just over the line of west Ga....Murder there a lot..gun violence but if you read the stats, it never gets reported in the stats.

      We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:22:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This has been in my mind all weekend (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xajaxsingerx, mungley, LSmith

    140 murders in Kansas City so far this year, most of them committed by guns and most of the victims were black.  A small child was recently wounded while watching television by a stray bullet.

    It takes the mass murder of white people, I guess, to bring the issue of unfettered access to guns to the public's attention.  My heart breaks everytime I read of another murder in my city, just as my heart breaks for the victims of the Connecticut shooting.  The gun culture brings heartbreak every day to families all over our nation, yet we seldom mourn the victims in such a public way as we're doing this weekend.  I don't have the answers.  I just want this terrible violence to stop.

    you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

    by Dem Beans on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:49:40 AM PST

  •  so they choose arms over life (0+ / 0-)

    does the right to bear arms trump the right to life for these hypocrites?

    Id rather be a tax and spend democrat than a borrow and spend republican any day. I pay my bills. - me

    by AustinLiberal on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:16:28 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary. As a fellow Southern Californian (0+ / 0-)

    I agree that our streets will be safer, and our kids will be safer with gun better control.

    This is the best starting point for stopping our culture of violence.

    Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

    by mungley on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:04:43 AM PST

  •  Totally agree with your diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella

    We recoil in shock and horror at the wholesale, wanton, bloody massacre of innocents in a small town.  But across the country, we ignore the retail gun violence that kills as many people a day as died in Newtown, many of them innocents also.  An average of 30 people a day die in the US as a result of gun violence, over 10,000 a year.   Over 100,000 people are wounded, about 300 per day.  The NRA responds to calls for gun control by saying that we cannot eliminate firearms violence.  But we should be able to reduce it by 90% the same way that auto safety regulations lowered highway deaths.  But as long as young lives snuffed out in Watts, Bed-Sty, Newark, Detroit, and St Louis are ni**er babies, the rest of this country doesn’t give a shit.

    The last sound on earth will be the squawk of an optimist.

    by CT yanqui on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:08:48 AM PST

  •  Nailed it right here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSmith
    but until our nation stops treating fear as a virtue
  •  obama is too weak (0+ / 0-)

    to get really effective gun law.

  •  have you seen the MAGAZINE RACKS????!!!! (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    mwk

    Dozens and dozens of magazines packed with erection-inducing firearms like the "Mil-spec grad" Troy 5.56 Carbine.  
    You really think a few dead brats can stop wannabe bucks from their fantasy fun?

    •  Please don't refer to those precious children (0+ / 0-)

      as dead brats?  PLease..... I will be forced to HR

      We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:26:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, please (0+ / 0-)

        I was giving the sentence from the POV of the gun cultists.  why do you think I would post against the gun industry, and then say something disrespectful about the children they are killing?

        •  That may be true but I look at these threads (0+ / 0-)

          from the point of view the same as IGTNT and even
          a slight misunderstanding is hurtful on whose point of view it is.   Those gun enthusiasts  already think we care too much about children in general. The ones already born.  I did not read that comment as coming ffrom their POV and maybe it is because there is so many of us upset.

            Intentions may have been good, the comment came out bad IMO.   I really don't care about the enthusiasts POV.  This is why I rarely HR.  I want explanation of what I am reading.  Thank you.

          We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

          by Vetwife on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:50:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is my first hide-rate ever (0+ / 0-)

      I hope you're trying to use sarcasm to make a point, but it's still too damaging to read.

      Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Richard Feynman

      by mwk on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:47:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, shocked (0+ / 0-)
    We were shocked to learn that Canada had just as many guns as we did
    since the reality is that they have about a third as many as we do per capita.

    And Newtown kinda illustrates that gun control DOESN'T work  Heck, the guns came from a responsible community member that no one would suggest taking them away from.  So why bother?

    The answer has to be to engage in a long hard slog not of banning guns, or some subset of them, but working to change the culture of this country so that they will no longer be glorified - maybe akin to anti-smoking or anti--anti-environmental efforts - yeah, it will take a lifetime, or more, but when's a better time to start than now?

    •  Her guns would have been taken away (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sagesource

      in Australia , Japan , Israel etc .
      To say her guns would not be , is untrue .

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 05:20:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point being is that we're not any of (0+ / 0-)

        those countries.

        We have decades of history that can't just be magically erased with newly enacted laws.

        In fact, I don't know why gun control opponents don't welcome new gun control initiative with open arms because they're doomed to fail - causing the pendulum to swing even further in their favor.

        so like I mentioned, the only real option is to change the gun culture of this country, not to start banning or "controlling" things legislatively.  But people always want easy answers I suppose

        •  Australia - (0+ / 0-)
          We have decades of history that can't just be magically erased with newly enacted laws.
          Australia -
          In fact, I don't know why gun control opponents don't welcome new gun control initiative with open arms because they're doomed to fail - causing the pendulum to swing even further in their favor.
          Australia -
          so like I mentioned, the only real option is to change the gun culture of this country, not to start banning or "controlling" things legislatively.
          Your gross negativity is noted and rejected .

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:06:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Israel (0+ / 0-)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          The regulation for gun ownership became stricter following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Before that, there were virtually no restrictions on gun ownership. Gun ownership in Israel is now considered a privilege and not a right.

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:31:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Canada has far fewer handguns. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena

    In comparison, a miniscule number. And with luck, they may be banned entirely one day. No concealed carry either, except for the fifty or so people in the country at any one time who can show their lives are under imminent threat.

    That's a big part of the difference. The only sure use for a handgun is to kill some other person. No one hunts with them, and for target practice they could be kept securely at the range. Limit guns to those types best suited for their legitimate uses, as Australia did after the Port Arthur massacre. (There hasn't been a mass shooting in Australia since then, by the way, and the murder rate has dropped substantially.)

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:28:27 PM PST

    •  Hand guns in hunting (0+ / 0-)

      have been used in conjunction with compound bows.

      If the game (deer!) isn't dead after having been laser-beamed by an arrow, you use the hand gun to do the final blow. It is much faster than a knife.

      Bullets are cheaper than arrows.

      Why hello there reality, how are you doing?

      by Future Gazer on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:39:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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