Not even a week has passed, and I needed to google “Florida Shooting.” I couldn’t seem to remember what day it happened…was it a Monday, or a Friday? It feels like it’s been at least a week, but after all the gun debate articles littered page after page of my search, I gave up.
The great American gun debate has turned into a frenzied dog and pony show that we all take part in after one of these tragedies occurs––a ritual of sorts, maybe to assuage the guilt we have for not really caring enough to actually do something about them. They last several days, then they go away until, almost on cue, the next mass shooting happens.
I don’t have children, but if I did I would be petrified. There are no “safe spaces” when it comes to America’s schools, no town that is above being a host to violence. Yet the first thing someone always says when caught on camera after a shooting is, “I can’t believe this happened here.” So yes, I am happy I do not have kids, happy I made that choice long ago. Not that watching someone elses kids get killed isn’t horrific; but because they’re not mine, I have the luxury of having to “google” what day of the week they were murdered.
Of course, the easy thing to go to when such things happen is the “gun.” The spectrum ranges anywhere from “It’s my right as an American citizen to have an AR!” all the way to “As a civilized nation we should ban all guns!” On this issue, I probably fall somewhere in-between. Even though I do not like guns, I don’t have a problem with responsible gun ownership. I do realize “responsible” is a broad term that can be defined in many different ways, but for the sake of argument, I believe in the right to bear arms (if you want to).
One of the things the right likes to talk about when the left is trying get some sort of reform into the conversation is that the Second Amendment was written into the Constitution so citizens could defend themselves against a tyrannical government. This is actually fact; however, in modern history, when has that ever worked out? Ruby Ridge, Waco, The Bundy Ranch? Hey, I am all for a government take-down, but you’re never going to “out weapon” a country that has a defense budget in the billions.
Left or right, we have all watched the rise of militarized police departments across the country. Many of the weapons (the ones that don’t fall into the hands of our sworn enemies) end up back here in our local police precincts. Remember watching the news as tanks rolled down the residential streets after the Boston Bombing? You may have had a shot at “out musketing” the government circa 1791, but your odds in 2018 against a tank ain’t looking so hot.
One of the things that confuses me most (and there’s a lot) about the right, is their consistency––or should I say, lack thereof. The same people who scream that it’s their god-given right to stockpile weapons against a tyrannical government are always the first ones calling for the arrest of people actually protesting the tyrannical government. If I had a dollar for every time I heard some right-wing asshole say a protester should be arrested, I’d have enough money to float the defense fund of every citizen whose First Amendment rights were violated.
In all fairness, the left isn’t exactly known for their consistency, either. In 2015, under the Obama administration, an estimated 90% of the people killed in drone strikes were not the intended targets. What does this have to do with the latest school shooting, you may be asking? In my opinion, everything.
America has been at war for approximately 223 years of our 241 year existence. Even I, who knew it was bad prior to research, had no idea it was that bad. Our love of war doesn’t stop there; we love to “share” it with others, as well. In 2017, arms deals facilitated by the pentagon broke records at a whopping 75.9 billion dollars, and when it comes to defense, we spend approximately $622 billion a year (more than three times the amount China does). This trend does not seem to be going anywhere. Every year the numbers only seem to go up.
If you analyze these facts long enough, you can only draw one conclusion: Americans don’t really have a problem with violence––we just don’t like it when it affects us, when it’s our children, in our schools. America’s most publicly celebrated Veteran is not the likes of Smedley Butler, Howard Zinn, or Tomas Young, but rather, Chris Kyle, whose motto was, “Violence Does Solve Problems.”
In January of 2017, nine children under the age of 13 were killed in a botched raid in Yemen. Two months later, two brothers under the age of 15 were killed by a drone while walking down the road. These stories rarely make the mainstream news, and on the rare occasion they do, we somehow manage to trivialize them. “It’s a shame, but collateral damage is the cost of war.” Could you imagine saying such a callous thing to the parent of a child who was killed here on U.S. soil? Why is losing a child via drone overseas more acceptable than losing one to a gun here in the U.S.? I myself like to be consistent when it comes to children being murdered. And just so we’re clear, I find all murders of children unacceptable.
There are a lot of things that are being mentioned as possible “contributors” to the rise of school shootings––Alt Right rhetoric, psychotropics, bad parenting, lack of mental health care, etcetera. While I am not a religious person, I am inclined to think it’s way more simple, as simple as the old bible quote my dad had hanging on the wall. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” America does not have a problem with violence. We are violence.
Author: Cynthia Tarana is a heavily tattooed Ex-Con with no college education and very bad punctuation. She currently lives on Long Island, NY where she pays extremely high taxes, likes to drink, rage against the machine and shop at the GAP.
Contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org