We are now seeing mass murder by gun on an ongoing and terrifying basis across these United States.
It is an unending panoply of violence and insanity and grief.
It is disturbing the daily lives of tens of thousands of American families, and disturbing the lives of far too many of them permanently, when one of the victims of these public slaughters is a member of their family.
We are, it appears, at one of those points in American history where we must choose between the past and what is and has been how we do things, and the future, where our outdated or anachronistic behavior is hurting too many of our fellow citizens.
These questions don't come along in the United States all that often, mostly I think because our living Constitution has been able to adapt to new eras via Amendments designed to more closely fit the words written in the 18th century to a form and structure which resonates more clearly in the 19th, 20th and now 21st century.
It happened during the 1860s, when the issue of Slavery nearly broke our Compact, costing the lives of nearly 2% of the American population. That was a question whose answer came only at the end of an armed conflict which pitted family members against each other in battle. The memory of that conflict lingers in our national psyche today, as it should.
It happened during the 1950s, during the McCarthy 'red scare' era. Legislators overran common sense and civil rights searching for 'commie sympathizers' in Hollywood and other parts of the nation, ending in scathing 'hearings' which were nothing less than public witch hunts designed to make those politicians look strong to their panic-driven electorate. It is a stain upon our Democracy, which I hope is not forgotten any time soon. I'd hate for us to repeat that particular episode of conservative crazy.
It happened during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. When, for the first time in the nation's history, white men found out that they were not the Masters of the Universe, at least not anymore. They were not happy and threw (sometimes violent) tantrums about it for quite some time. Some of them are still throwing those same tantrums, they've just ratcheted-up the volume since some crazy Americans somehow were brainwashed into electing a Black guy to the Office of the Presidency. By freaking landslide proportions. Twice.
So about half a century after those Civil Rights Movement victories, we find ourselves as a people, as a nation, mired in another of those Constitutional quandaries.
In particular, we live in an era where our Supreme Court has been in a 5-4 (conservative majority) format since the era of Ronald Reagan. What the conservative want, they've been getting. In particular, this John Roberts Court had presided over some of the most unique decisions: finding that speech and money are the same thing when it comes to politics; that rich people AND corporations have the Right to spend their
speech money, and as much of it as they want, influencing elections; and in contrast to over 200 years of previous SCOTUS courts, they found that there is a personal Right to "keep and bear arms" irrespective of the person belonging to any well-regulated Militia.
It's bad enough when our highest Court tells us that money and speech are equivalent. When they tell us that wealthy individuals and groups like corporations and unions can spend as much of their money influencing our elections; even when regular folks have no hope of ever have such an 'loud' voice.
But when they tell us that anyone who wants one can have a gun or ten or a thousand of them? When these people can buy as much ammunition, in magazines or clips in such large volumes that a single crazy person can mow down up to dozens of their fellow citizens in mere moments? When our already nearly comatose Congress completely abdicates it's responsibility to legislate these weapons of death in such a way to ensure the "general Welfare" of the The People?
I think we've come to one of those moments in American history, when a meta question is before the American people to determine in which direction will the nation proceed. This time, the question has to be, "Which is more valuable, the Right to Live or the Right to 'keep and bear arms'?".
Because that's where we are now. It's obvious to anyone who doesn't live in a cave that as more and more and more guns have been bought and/or brought into America, that more and more of our innocent fellow citizens have been slaughtered with them.
Gun nuts can spout their talking points until the end of time, but in the end, it IS guns which kill people. People just pull the trigger, the gun's ammunition does the killing.
Within the past couple of years alone we've seen a sitting Representative to the US House shot in the head at a street-side constituent meeting (Gabby Giffords), seen 20 five and six year old babies, really and seven adults horrifically slaughtered by multiple shots to nearly all victims in their school; gun attacks on Army bases and a Navy Shipyard and many such mass murders by gun on college and university campuses across the land.
There've been at least 70 mass shootings in the past three decades alone.
At it's heart, this question is about more than the 2nd Amendment, a lot more.
It's about what kind of people we Americans are going to be, going forward. About what sort of society we want our children and grandchildren (should we be lucky enough to have them) to live in.
I'm on the side that wants to choose Life. We've spent the wealth of our nation on a Department of Defense that could theoretically protect us from almost anything, saving an invasion by an advanced extraterrestrial species or perhaps a comet strike. I don't believe that under these circumstances that continuing to adhere to a rule our forebears wrote due to the circumstances of the world and the fledgling United States of America in the 1770-1790 era is either fitting or meet for the America of the 21st century.
We threw off the chains of Slavery and freed our brothers and sisters, though it cost us dearly.
We wrought a new society a half century and more later, to require that polite society recognize the Rights of non-white Americans, to fully flesh out the Freedom granted them so many years before.
Why can't we, as a society and through our elected representatives to our Government, acknowledge that this modern century no longer requires the anachronistic 2nd Amendment and it's gift of weapons of death to all and sundry?
The cost of keeping it? It's too damned high.
#NotOneMore should be a logo on old faded t-shirts, which we have to explain to our grandchildren reminds us of a time when guns were everywhere in America and bad people used to kill other people with them all the time. Until enough of us spoke up, #StrongerTogether, and demanded our Government say #NotOneMore, too.
And then they did.