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A Moment of Silence

by Zane Larkin 4 months ago in politicians / trump / politics / opinion / legislation / defense / corruption / controversies / congress / activism
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The Tragedy of the Second Amendment

On May 24, 2022, twenty-one people in a small town near El Paso, Texas, lost their lives. Of these, nineteen were elementary school children—too young, one would assume, to have done anything which would have warranted such a violent death.

The gunman himself was only 18, and yet had somehow been able to legally acquire a military-grade weapon with which to perform this ghastly deed before being gunned down himself by responding officers. And the real kicker is that—as far as just school shootings go—this isn’t even the first time something like this has happened in this country. In fact, the school shooting in Uvalde not only isn’t the first school shooting on record in the United States of America, but it isn’t even the first—or second—shooting to occur in an elementary school.

How did this happen? How was this allowed to happen?

School shootings have become so rote here that even the responses have lost any sort of personal touch—a fact publicly mentioned in a speech by Golden Gate Warriors coach Steve Kerr right before the second half of a basketball game his team was playing in Texas at the time of the shooting. He said—among other things I agree with—that school shootings have become so commonplace that most people, after hearing about the events in Uvalde and having a small moment of silence for the lives lost, will pretty much go right back to living their lives as they were before this happened. And he is right.

We should be angry. We should be shocked and horrified that such a thing could occur on US soil. That somehow people who are capable of doing things like this are able to get ahold of the weapons to carry these deeds out. But we aren’t. It has happened so often by now that we are all sort of numb to it, and so while we’ll spare a thought for those whose lives were lost and the people they left behind, we’re not going to let it get in the way of us enjoying our lives.

In a way, Kerr said it best when he said that he was sick of moments of silence.

Moments of silence don’t do anything. Thoughts and prayers won’t bring back the dead or magically erase the horror of little kids having their brains blown out. These things don’t do anything for anyone who was actually affected by the tragedy. In fact, the only thing they help to do is to ease the collective conscience—the collective guilt—of the bystanders and the people who weren’t there or didn’t know the victims or who honestly couldn’t give shit but want to pretend to care anyway. After all, if all of these people really cared, we wouldn’t have private citizens running around with assault rifles and weapons like Uzis and AK-47s. If all of these people really cared, those sorts of weapons would be restricted to pure military use, and firearms of any sort would not be so openly available.

But instead, what we have is ‘moments of silence’. Our ‘thoughts and prayers’ go out to the victims and their families. We have a great big media parade where everyone says that something needs to be done and they all pay lip service to the idea of more stringent gun control, and yet nothing is ever actually done except the exact opposite of that. We get together a panel of expert psychologists who go the television circuit, talking about what possible triggers the gunman might have had that led to him eventually pulling the trigger, and we go around in circles and talk it all to death until we’ve made sure that the blame lies firmly at the feet of the individual and no further, and then we all go back to forgetting about it and moving on.

But that doesn’t really solve anything, does it? It’s all just glitter, poured wantonly over the surface of an ugly painting in the hope of making it prettier. It doesn’t address—much less solve—any of the real problems. It doesn’t even get near them.

Don’t get me wrong—a lot of this is on the individual. Not everyone who has a gun is someone who’s going to just waltz on into a building and start shooting everyone they see. That is not reality and it is crazy to believe that. However, it is also completely within the realm of possibility, and not only that but it is becoming more and more probable as time goes on and we hear increased reports of people doing just that. After all, this school shooting didn’t occur too long after someone shot up a store in Albany, New York. And that’s not the first time that has happened, either—and not just in Texas or New York, but in Colorado, Virginia, California—all across the country. So, clearly, it is not just the individual.

This becomes a little more clear when the scope is broadened from just mass shootings to shootings in general. My brother used to work as a reporter in Memphis, Tennessee, and not a day went by when he or another reporter at his station didn’t have to cover the story of a shooting. It was so bad that only the more outlandish ones were ever actually given the benefit of a full story—most of them so commonplace that they barely rated a brief mention on the evening newscast. And yet, in almost all of those stories, someone lost their life. Someone lost a mother, a father, a sister, a brother. Someone had a parent or a child who was never coming home again. But that is just an everyday occurrence, and surely those people had it coming to them, so who really cares?

We should, really, because the next shooting victim might be someone we care about. Might even be us, for all we know. We could be out shopping one day and then someone just opens fire in the store and that’s that—goodbye us.

All of this isn’t to say that there aren’t people who care. Regardless of how it feels sometimes, I honestly do not believe that America is full of a bunch of uncaring, heartless people with no feeling for their fellow humans. I do believe, however, that those are the sorts of people we have been willing to put in charge and to have shape our policies in this country. People like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whom the senator from El Paso believes lied to her community about his commitment to protect them from gun violence, and whose hand is deep in the pocket of pro-gun organizations like the NRA.

Someone I know said recently—in direct response to the Uvalde shooting—that “we love our children, but we love our guns more.”

And that might seem like a harsh statement to a lot of people, but, like this person has also said before: “Tough cookies”. Any look at the policies we’ve made in this country in regards to both children and guns will show the veracity of that statement. Politically, a large portion of this country portends to be anti-abortion and pro-life (while still somehow being for the death penalty, go figure), but when it comes to issues like welfare and universal healthcare to assist in the upbringing and continued health of the fetuses they fought so hard for once they’ve been born, their stance has always been that the parents of those kids chose to have them and should therefore be responsible for everything related to them. Yet when it comes to guns, these are for the most part the same people who will mobilize and come out in droves to defend and protest any perceived threat to their second amendment rights (or vote for those who will), any time anyone brings up the need for any sort of gun control.

Case in point: A few years ago, the state of Texas reformed our gun laws to allow open-carry in any establishment (except the government buildings where our law-makers work) and to do away with the requirement for a background check for anyone purchasing a gun. Our 'gun reform' was actually a relaxation of the laws we already had in place-- the sort of relaxation that ultimately leads to tragedies like this. I am not saying that all of this country's gun-related problems could be solved with a background check-- after all, that only tells you what someone has already done, not what they are going to do in the future-- however it was something, and now we have nothing.

You can legally purchase a gun-- an assault rifle even-- in this country at 18. You can't buy a pack of cigarettes or even a drink until a full three years later at the age of 21. Those facts alone should be more than enough to tell you something pretty fundamental about this country, and when you think on them in conjunction with the amount of gun-violence we have, that 'something' is not pretty at all.

Please note that the majority of this article was written the day of the shooting at Robb Elementary, so if some later disclosed facts are missing, that is why.

For those who would like to make a financial donation to the families of the victims of the Uvalde shooting, Zelle donations may be sent to FBSUvalde.com.

Feel free to leave a comment. If you disagree with any of my opinions, as long as you can keep things civil, let me know. I am unlikely to change any of my own, but that doesn't mean I am adverse to hearing from the other side.

politicianstrumppoliticsopinionlegislationdefensecorruptioncontroversiescongressactivism

About the author

Zane Larkin

I'm not a journalist, but I do publish like one.

Promising dogs, cats, politics and good old-fashioned common sense. Let's keep things civil.

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