Saturday, October 07, 2017

34.5 - Las Vegas and gun control

Las Vegas and gun control

Consider this: A man carefully plans a mass murder. He checks out locations in Chicago and Boston before settling on Las Vegas. He amasses an arsenal. He sets up a base on the 32nd floor of a hotel a few days in advance. He has a hammer to break the room's windows to give him a clean line of fire. He has cameras to track the approach of police. He has at least 23 firearms with him. He has so-called "bump stocks" that enable a semi-automatic weapon to fire almost as fast as a fully-automatic one, hundreds of rounds a minute - devices that are entirely legal.

On October 1, he opens fire on the crowd at a country music festival.

Several minutes later, 58 people are dead and over 500 more are injured - many wounded by gunfire, but others trampled in the rush and crush to escape.

It was by any measure the worst mass shooting in US history and using a definition of mass shooting of four or more shot - not necessarily killed, but shot - in single incident, it was, as of October 5, the 275th mass shooting in the US this year. And the rate of mass shootings has been increasing since the 1960s, dramatically so the most recent several years.

And when a few voices now are raised to suggest, in Rep. Chris Murphy's pointed phrase, that Congress should "get off its ass" and enact at least some measure of gun control, what do we hear?

We hear that "Now is not the time." No, it's a time for reflection and mourning. Now is not the time. Oh, there can be a time for that debate, but it's not now. Later, yeah, later.

We hear that now instead is the time for "hopes and prayers" offered up like trinkets and baubles by the hypocrites with the bloody hands who feed at the trough of the NRA.

We hear it was the victims' own fault, as Senator John Thune says people have to "take precautions, protect themselves, and in situations like" Las Vegas - and this is a quote - "get small."

We hear the whole thing should be dismissed as, as Bill O'Reilly called it, "the price of freedom" and isn't it sad people died but it doesn't affect me personally so what do I care.

We hear that even raising the issue of too damn many guns too damn easy to get, too damn many dead the the end of a gun - nearly 34,000 in 2015, including 11,000 murders - to even raise that is - How dare you! - to "politicize a tragedy." It's "beyond disgusting," says Sen. John Cornyn, who blathered on that "Unfortunately I think some of the statements that have been made are fairly predicable," blissfully unaware of the mountainous irony.

"Now is not the time" is what we hear, droningly chanted by people for who it never has been and never will be "the time."

But of course it's the time. It's always the time. As Martin Luther King said, "The time is always right to do what is right."

But to be blunt I have no hope that will happen. I have no hope this Congress or bluntly any other Congress we can reasonably envision doing much of anything. Oh, maybe a few tweaks around the edges - even the NRA is allowing as how maybe, y'know, maybe bump stocks should be regulated more - and yes those tweaks will help but they will not fundamentally change the calculation or the nature of a nation steeped in violence and in an ideology that celebrates selfishness and praises power.

I have hope for a lot of things; truly strict controls on guns is not one of them.

And yet, and yet - that does not free us (me) from the responsibility to do what we (I) can do. We have to carry on as best as we can, if not in hope, then in anger.

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