Last Friday, tragedy and heartbreak once again took over the American consciousness as another psychopath went on a shooting spree, the likes of which were never seen in the country before. In Newtown, Connecticut, a small town of 27 000 people, a young man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Armed with two pistols and an assault rifle he went on to murder six adults along with twelve girls and eight boys all aged between six and seven. The gunman then proceeded to take his own life and will never pay for the atrocities he’s committed. We have seen this type of scenario play out time and time again, but rarely has the number of victims been so high and never have they been so young.
Following the movie theater shooting last July in Aurora, I wrote a piece called “Gun Control: The Essential Step No One Wants to Talk About.” I tried to illustrate that after every mass shooting there is a brief period of a couple weeks where gun control is mentioned among liberals, progressives and the press, but never goes beyond these outer circles.
Following last Friday’s tragedy, we started hearing the same old rhetoric; it’s a time to mourn the dead, not question the 2nd amendment. Michael Moore of Bowling for Columbine fame tweeted “Too soon to speak out about a gun-crazy nation? No, too late. At least THIRTY-ONE school shootings since Columbine.” He’s right, but that number only tells us half the story.
There have been sixty-two mass shootings in the last thirty years, thirty-one of those have occurred since Columbine in 1999. There have been eighteen shootings in the last five years and worst of all, there have been seven this year alone.
Some people are trying to convince me that this time it’s different, they tell me the atrociousness of this latest act and the age of the victims will get the gun control ball rolling. I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but I believe they’re wrong. No noble dialog came out of the shootings in Aurora or the dozens that preceded it, this time won’t be any different.
Are we to believe that congress will approve of new gun laws when they can’t even agree on the simple act of paying their bills? Are we to believe that the NRA will sit idly by if the 5400 licensed firearm manufacturers in the US are under threat of seeing their record breaking profits of 2012 shrink a little? Furthermore, are we to believe that this latest incident was tragic enough to convince some of the 55% who don’t want tougher restrictions on guns that it’s in everybody’s collective interest to have them? Americans love their guns.
As if those three questions weren’t huge obstacles by themselves, the right-wing is already sounding off with their normal hyperbolic statements. When the Aurora massacre transpired, they all took to the airwaves to claim that if everyone in the theatre had a gun at their side, the carnage would have been much less severe. Despite the fact the place was dark, filled with smoke and the killer was wearing body armor, gun sales in the state skyrocketed.
In Connecticut most of the victims were in Kindergarten, so instead of putting guns in the hands of the would-be victims, some conservatives are already calling for teachers to be armed instead. Would you feel safer knowing the teacher of your child is packing heat at all times? What would happen the first time a teacher loses his patience with a student acting out of line and pulls his gun on him?
As I mentioned, 2012 has been a banner year for the gun industry sharing in record profits and gun sales, but at the same time there has also been a record number of mass shootings. Somehow, conservatives and Republicans working on behalf of the NRA continue to contrarily convince people that guns make people safer and yet after an event like this no one feels safe; so what do we do? We go and buy more guns!
China, which has very strict gun control laws experienced a very similar incident just hours before the events in Connecticut. A man with a knife went into an elementary school and stabbed more than twenty children. While these instances are occurring more often in China, sometimes with deadly results, no one was killed in this attack. Twenty children are still breathing that might not have been if this man would have had access to an assault rifle instead.
I’m sure the events that unfolded in Connecticut will stay in our minds and our discussion longer than it has in the past given the brutality of the crime, but call me pessimistic, I don’t see things changing anytime soon. I don’t expect much from a land where it’s easier to access guns than mental health services.