Living and Dying In the Country of the Gun

This is the face of insanity. The insane love of guns.

A friend wrote on Facebook: My thoughts on the shooting in Aurora, Colorado: For the most part, we seem to be a nation of broken people who are lost in our things, our success, our technology, our pain, our isolation, our wants.

Senseless acts such as these are committed by broken, lonely, angry people, who desperately want attention. The shooting last night in a public movie theater was no doubt committed by a young man with serious mental health issues. That is where our focus and analysis needs to be. Not on new gun laws or on taking arms from the people. The time has come for us to STOP making excuses for people like this–people like the ARMY Major in Texas that killed his fellow soldiers in a rant. Or the many other incidences where we see a lone gunman “go off” and kill innocent people. These people were time bombs, just waiting to go off.

While I concur with my friend’s sympathies, I’m not as quick as she is to play the 2nd Amendment card. The problem is not just crazy people getting their hands on guns. It’s also that organizations like the NRA make it easy for crazy people to get a gun.

Take away James Holmes’ weapon and substitute it with a knife. The body count goes down, not up. The connecting cord between Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Gabrielle Giffords shootings and the daily slaughter on the streets of Chicago and other urban areas is the GUN.

I don’t want to ban guns. Far from it. People have a right to protect themselves, but I’m waiting for the first yahoo to say, “Well, if only someone was legally carrying a gun they could have returned fire.” In a darkened, crowded theater with families? Please! They would need dump trucks to haul away all the bodies caught in the middle of a fire fight.

In the wake of the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, there will be investigations into how it happened, discussions about the mentally ill, and conversations on how to stop a future James Holmes from carrying out a similar deadly attack (we can’t).

We will have all kinds of conversations about what happened in Aurora.  All except the conversation we need to have.  The one about the all-too-easy access to guns and why nothing will be done about it.

The battle over gun control is over and gun control lost.  The NRA won.   President Obama won’t take on the gun lobby.   Mitt Romney won’t take on the gun lobby.  A few in Congress will introduce legislation and maybe even hold hearings into placing limits on guns, but nothing will come of it.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said,   “In this case he had a hundred rounds,” she said of James Holmes, the lone suspect in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting. “He didn’t have to stop to reload. There was no chance for people to try to overpower him or to escape and I don’t believe that these military-type weapons and these magazines should be out on the streets of America.”

All talk, but no action.

“There is no reason why you have 100 rounds of ammunition. That is just an assault weapon killing machine and I personally believe these magazines should be banned. They serve no purpose, but to kill people, so why in the world are we allowing this,” Maloney added.

But Romney predictably said there is no need for new laws and reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment (as if anyone doubted it).

“I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment and I also believe that this is — with emotions so high right now, this is really not a time to be talking about the politics associated with what happened in Aurora,” Romney said, “This is really a time, I think, for people to reach out to others in their community that need help or a comforting hand. Let’s do that for now and then we can get on to policy down the road.”

Ah yes.  The predictable “this is really not the time” to have meaningful discussions on issues that actually mean something.   Romney doesn’t want to talk about the politics behind the free-flowing access to guns and ammunition.   So what if Holmes had stockpiled 6,000 rounds of ammo and booby-trapped his apartment into an IED with wall-to-wall carpeting?   Let’s talk about something else.  Anything else but some psychopath armed to the teeth on a mission of mass murder.

Not that Obama is any better.  In some ways he’s worse.  White House press secretary Jay Carney says the president is committed to preventing gun crimes with “existing laws.”

Existing laws?  There was an existing law that banned the AR-15 assault weapon Holmes used to kill innocent moviegoers but it was repealed in 2004.    A surly New York Daily News editorial railed against the men who would be president and their weak-kneed empty platitudes to the dead and wounded while offering no new attempt to limit the unfettered access to guns.

The police chief in Aurora, Colo., said he is confident that massacre gunman James Holmes acted alone. The police chief was dead wrong.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he unleashed an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun and a handgun was Wayne LaPierre, political enforcer of the National Rifle Association.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he sprayed bullets and buckshot into a crowded movie theater were Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a President and a would-be President, who have bowed to the NRA’s dictates and who responded to the slaughter Friday with revolting, useless treacle.

 Standing at Holmes’ side as he murdered 12 and wounded 59 were the millions of zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form.

In a vain claim of innocence, the fanatics will say Holmes is a monster and a maniac, that he fired and fired and fired as a man possessed. Each protestation clamps their fingers with his around the trigger.

Because they made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry. And they made sure he was permitted by law to drive to the kill scene with a fully loaded arsenal.

Such is the conscienceless extremism of America’s gun lovers that they accept wholesale slaughter as akin to a fatal highway pileup. Accidents happen, in their grotesque view, and so do mass killings by firearms.

There will be no profiles in courage from the president or his challenger.  The race is too close and the stakes too high for Obama or Romney to risk it.  The NRA is too formidable an opponent for Obama to take on.  A handful of states will decide the winner of the presidency and Romney pledging anything less than total loyalty to gun rights or Obama coming on too strong against the millions of weapons already in the hands of law-abiding citizens is enough to tip a blue state into the red.

Damn sorry about your loss, but don’t expect me to DO anything..

There will be no debate.  The matter is closed.  With the exception of a few editorial boards and irrelevant blogs such as this one, the anguished cries and the pitiful screams of the dead and wounded in Aurora will go unheeded.   Human life is precious, but in America, the gun is sacred.  Neither Obama nor Romney will be heretics.

We will hear there is no way to predict or deter madmen like Holmes.   It might be helpful if there were some system in place to monitor the stockpiling of deadly arsenals by disturbed people, but means talking about privacy rights, unwanted and massive governmental intrusion, gun confiscation and the forcible treatment of the mentally ill, just to name a few hot buttons that would be pushed.

The United States of America is the most heavily armed country on the planet with 90 guns for every 100 citizens. A free society that cannot protect children from being shot down in a movie theater isn’t free at all. It’s lost its damn mind with its crazed lust for weapons. The bigger the firepower the bigger the body count. Nobody needs 6,000 rounds of ammunition. NOBODY.

James Holmes killed and wounded 70 people in less than four minutes. Constitutional rights don’t mean a damn thing if you’re too dead to enjoy them.

Senseless acts of violence may not be preventable, but allowing bloodthirsty psychopaths free and unfettered access to guns, ammo, and explosives is preventable.

The flip side of freedom and law and order is anarchy and chaos.  And madness.   This is a gun-crazy country and we are so crazy about our guns if a 6-year-old girl is shot down by a madman, that is an acceptable loss.

America has a love affair with the gun and that love is literally killing us. We need to break up.