Saturday, December 15, 2012
The news from Newtown, Connecticut is one of eleven reports of over 11 murders in a single event by gun fire since 1984, one of 19 over the past 5 years of multiple deaths in a single shooting incident.
President Obama's statement was masterful, but, through no fault of his, incapable of ameliorating this sort of disaster; having said that, I cannot think of another President or leader who has ever done better--even Reagan addressing the Challenger explosion, was still just an actor playing the part. Mr. Obama was through and through, authentic, not milking this for anything, simply expressing what every parent is thinking.
The news media, you would think, would have figured out by now what to cover and what not to say, but, as usual, the reporters, columnists, TV news show producers have been insufferable. (NPR's Scott Simon being my personal migraine--he seems to just love wallowing in these moments with that syrupy, unctuous voice he does, to tell you just how deeply he feels for your loss, as if nobody in the country could possibly feel as badly as Scott does about this.) Interviews with distraught witnesses, people hugging, interviews with clergymen, interviews with "trauma psychologists" and with social workers, saying things like, "This is a tragedy," clips from the governor and police chiefs.
As if any sort of authority figure has a clue about what to do about all this.
And then there are the men and women who are paid to swing into high gear because they work for the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party or for some gun control group.
All of the "experts" sound like imbeciles. The office holders are simply unable to say anything of value. The world will little note nor long remember what they say.
The prize imbeciles are the NRA faithful who say we ought to arm more people, so Next Time, someone in the crowd will pull a gun and shoot the shooter, just like in old Westerns.
Right here in New Hampshire the legislature debated and may, for all I know, have passed a law to be sure legislators could carry their guns into the statehouse.
Has there ever been a case when an armed citizen truncated a murderous spree by shooting the shooter?
It reminds me of the days when AIDS was arising, before anyone knew much about the virus, and before there were any drugs to treat it. It was already out there, having infected hundreds of thousands, and we heard interviews about how this was all the government's fault for not spending enough money on the problem.
People from the National Institutes of Health were saying, "It's not money we need: It's ideas."
But AIDS turned out to be a single--albeit ever mutating--virus. While it has not been successfully eradicated, on the scale of polio, it has been managed.
We are not managing gun violence of the Newtown type.
If we stopped the manufacture and sale of another gun of any sort tomorrow, we would still be pickled in guns--over 300 million by some estimates, extant in this nation as we speak.
How do you control access to guns by deranged people, when there are more guns than McDonald's restaurants, when guns are like automobiles--ubiquitous, and the only reason there are not even more deaths is the self interest and will of the operators in possession of these instruments of destruction?
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ever the fresh minded thinker, suggested we give up on restricting access to guns, but attempt to restrict access to bullets. Even Chris Rock picked up on that idea as a way to restrict gun violence in the ghetto, saying, "Can you imagine if a bullet cost $5000? Ain't no way no brother going to shoot more than one round, and only at close range. Then he'd go dig it out."
Somehow, though, I cannot imagine the well planned shootings at schools would be much deterred by expensive bullets. And you can steal bullets as easily as stealing guns.
I need ideas. I agree with the President, we ought to take meaningful action, if only I had a clue what form that might take.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 11:40 AM