On Dec. 14, 20 of our nation’s children were murdered.
We are not shocked by the essential nature of this act: it seems that mass slaughter in our schools and malls and theaters has become nearly as common as it is in our family rooms and living rooms and dens, where we regularly play games dedicated to mutual carnage. No, what shocked us on Friday was the magnitude of the act, the sheer number of children and their protectors whose lives ended in a matter of minutes.
A great many hours and column inches will be dedicated to analyzing this act, its genesis and its ramifications. Tragedy is good for business when the news cycle never ends, as is the debate with regard to gun control. But we, as a nation, seem as inured to that debate as we do to the parade of greater and lesser tragedies that are a staple of our national culture.
So here are the American realities regarding these horrors as best as I can tell.
First, the sanctity of gun ownership, based in part on a twisting of the 2nd Amendment’s intent, is now considered a mandatory element of American patriotism. To question any aspect of gun ownership is a suspect action.
Second, there are real interests behind the construct of “freedom equals unlimited, barrier-free gun ownership.” The organizations purporting to speak for the humble individual citizen are beholden first to manufacturers of guns, armaments, and ammunition. In other words, it’s about the money.
Third, these realities illuminate the relative degeneracy of our political ‘leadership’ as clearly as any single issue in this nation. What possible rationale exists for having abandoned the Federal Assault Weapons Ban when it was up for renewal in 2004? Does anyone feel more secure knowing that their elected representative was willing to stand up for their right to purchase automatic weapons? Can you imagine a number of deaths under circumstances such as Friday’s that would move members of Congress to stand up and say “Enough”?
It appears that we, as a society, have decided that a certain number of senseless deaths is both to be expected and is acceptable as the price to maintain the ever-expanding weapons-related freedoms we enjoy.
Well, count me out. I say to hell with guns, and to the politicians and promotional experts who make us believe that gun ownership is a vital part of our American lifestyle.
We have built a metaphorical temple to violence in this society, even while real people regularly kill their fellows using guns in public places including houses of worship.
I would give nearly anything to see at least a handful of elected officials stand up and say that, because their decency and dignity and sense of collective responsibility outweighs concerns about their re-election, they are prepared to take actions to constrain gun purchase and ownership to a degree that might mitigate the likelihood of another Sandy Hook massacre.
It’s time to tear down the temple of gun worship, and construct safer, more permanent structures in the name of our children and our sanity.
Joshua Lazerson is an Encinitas resident.