Ok listen. They shot up a classroom of first graders. They shot up a women’s health care clinic. They shot up families watching a movie. They shot up a sorority party. They shot up people praying at the nation’s oldest AME church. They shot black children at the park. They shot their coworkers at their own goddam holiday party.
Americans all. All. Many have purchased their guns legally. Cops are issued guns like I was issued a desk chair and pens. Children are given guns when they become “men”.
Sensible gun control would have directly prevented many of these massacres. Of course. Track gun and ammo purchases like we track flu season Sudafed. Control them like we control Adderall. Mandate safety training like we mandate drivers training. Because guess what’s more lethal than driving, than ADHD meds, than meth, even.
If we don’t murder ourselves out of existence, maybe future humans can master time travel and matter manipulation and return like cosmic school principals to vaporize all our guns, prevent us from murdering ourselves out of existence, and ensure their own survival in a glorious peacenik time paradox that I’d definitely watch as a streaming Amazon miniseries.
#slatepitch: how to explain lockdown drills to a child while raising her to function with barest faith in the potential for a happy life in our country, which is now sensibly planning for the chance that someone might shoot her up at school, because this is what sensible looks like here, now.
So, failing the Star Trek solution, what can we try?
Sensible gun control, of course, understanding that
- a) the NRF-ingA outspends gun control lobbies by a gajillion to one and
- b) while I decisively support all possible gun control measures, up to and including full vaporization and/or reversion to the Stone Age to eliminate all metals and plastics from earth (fuck you, iPhone, if it’ll prevent another Sandy Hook), reasonable gun control wouldn’t have prevented all massacres, an armed police force is at least some of the problem, and we still have to recon with the one two suckerpunch of racism PLUS gender norms now so toxic they are downright lethal.
Just ask trans people, who have a 41% attempted suicide rate, just how lethal our gender norms are. Just visit the playground at recess, where boys turn their arms into guns and girls turn theirs into fairy wings, to see the deep, deep juju of our warrior/princess stories. Boys and girls are taught that masculinity = power, and culture shows them that guns are perhaps the quickest, easiest way to own such power.
So also, we live in a culture that routinely dehumanizes black people, along with women and children, and now Muslims, gay people-you know the list. And a right wing perpetually stoking fears of rising threats to white male power from these groups and from government itself-threats that strategically obfuscate the economic crises destroying the middle and working classes of all backgrounds and communities. Threats that render impossible a grassroots, community-based response to these collective economic crises.
We also know that mental illness, while often biologically based, takes forms that vary by culture. E.g the content of US schizophrenic hallucinations is much more often paranoid and fearful than schizophrenic hallucinations in other countries.
Our culture creates pathways or channels for human behavior; these channels are called norms. Culture may, in fact, be defined by these channels. I imagine norms like little ditches in the sand for rivulets of human behavior to flow down, contained by media rhetoric about a Muslim president, for example, or by biblical stories about the woman whose sin destroyed a man’s chance to stay in paradise.
Extreme human behavior may cause a person to travel further down that path like by declaring oneself a warrior for babies after murdering lots and lots of parents. Or by assuming that a kid holding a toy near a playground slide will kill a cop if given more than 2 seconds to think about it so you better kill him first.
Why do cops need guns? To protect themselves from
black people gang members. Why do gang members need guns? To build a power structure outside the legal systems that structurally deny them opportunity.
Why do citizens need guns? To protect themselves from
black people intruders. From black people the president, and his racial vague threateningness.
From tyrannical government. From the War on Christmas. From threats: pervasive, undefined, and definitely, positively, in no way not about to get you and your family and destroy everything you worked so hard to already have lost.
So gun control. Yes. Of course. Whatever we can get. But also culture change including at minimum the following:
- Full employment
- Let all the kids play with all the toys
- Gun control TO THE MAXXXXX! both to reduce the number of guns in the hands of folks who want to commit some kind of so-called righteous murder and also to build a culture in which guns are no longer the cornerstone of a vast collective identity
- Universal health care, including full mental health parity i.e. universal, comprehensive mental health screening, preventive holistic wellness programs, ample access to culturally competent therapists, and a well-paid, well-respected caretaking workforce
- Comprehensive anti-racist training mandatory in all workplaces, including schools, provided by a well-paid, well-respected caretaking workforce
- Anti-bias training for all teachers
- Throw in family leave and subsidized child care because building a vibrant middle class would both reduce actual gun violence and slowly minimize the pervasive ephemeral sense of threat that ideologues pervert into giant social wedges that carve a rhetorical path down which lone-wolf sociopaths can take their guns to places where children learn or where women detect ovarian cancer early enough to treat. Or where public health workers celebrate all the winter holidays, together.
- While we’re talking about San Bernardino and thinking about the argument that ISIS’s rise was catalyzed by climate change-driven relocation of many unemployed former farmers to hot-ass, crowded cities with scarce opportunities and several easy, false answers, and that violence in general is catalyzed by a lack of opportunity, whether real or perceived, and that more and more people are going to be displaced by our warming planet and trying to assimilate into unprepared and fearful communities: lower the goddam level of carbon in our air. Just lower it.
- Climate change didn’t cause that couple to shoot up their coworkers. But climate change displaces people, displaced people stoke fear, and ideologues use fear to spread murderous rhetoric through unstable societies so that the ensuing violence might build state power for themselves. Then, backed by state power, murderous, fearful rhetoric spreads itself. Across oceans, now, thanks to Facebook.
Seems like Star Trek future humans are a better bet.