and the slaughter of hope
It’s been a week or two.
Reeling from one mass shooting by a white supremacist radicalized on “*chan” forums in Buffalo, where he murdered ten Black people at a supermarket, we are rocked by another mass shooting in a Texas school by a young man who had murdered his grandmother that morning. The stories from Uvalde are infuriating. The school had an on-duty “safety officer,” police were on scene, and yet did not engage the shooter for 45 minutes as he rampaged through the school while eight-year-olds called 911 to tell them where he was.
There are videos of police threatening parents and shocking them with tasers to keep them from charging into the school, and at least one story of a mother handcuffed, then released, who sneaked into the school and rescued her children. Police are said to have rescued their own children and escaped rather than engage the shooter. I wouldn’t want to face someone armed with a battle rifle, armed or not. But if that’s the case, that even our trained police refuse to be the “good guy with a gun,” then it is time to remove all 20 million of these battle rifles from civilian hands. There is no other tenable solution.
As a former NRA member, I know that the arms dealers and their gun fetishist allies will instead want us to build schools like prisons and pay to have SWAT teams at every one, so they can continue to hoard their arsenals. They’d rather see public schooling end, than admit that they are helpless in the face of a determined killer who is willing to die. I remember assholes stating how they would have reacted to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack; Markie Mark Wahlberg even said he could have stopped 9/11. I know from my own past that I probably would have died at that Texas school, trying. I don’t want my niece and nephew to grow up in a country where military fetishists dictate our survival for their hobby.
I won’t be opening comments on this post because I have debated with fellow gun owners for over 25 years online, and there is no point to it. The fact is, when the Assault Weapons Ban was in place, we had fewer shootings of this sort. And whining gun nuts had to buy “neutered” rifles they didn’t like! Oh no. Tyranny! Hunting was not affected. The Clintons did not round them up into FEMA camps for daring to express their freedoms. And the ban should only be the beginning. Frankly, every battle rifle should be in the armory at the local National Guard. If we can’t buy them back and destroy them, then keep them there. Make the owners join the well regulated militia if they want to play with their deadly toys.
The reasons we do not have universal background checks, and red flag laws where guns can be confiscated if you’ve been accused of making threats or other violent behavior, are twofold: misogyny and white supremacy.
I’ve read the NRA magazines for years. It’s all dog whistles for racism. “Thugs” want to invade your home, so you “need” to be able to get a gun immediately. And every male gun owner’s emasculatory nightmare is that a “psycho bitch” can make a phone call to the cops and get their guns taken away. Like the NRA members who confronted the woman with her “Fuck the NRA” sign and “offered” to fuck her; men think they are entitled to make threatening jokes. After all, they are “only joking.”
We like to talk about the chilling effect on free speech that prior restraint has, but rarely talk about the chilling effect that the fear of being threatened by men has on speech. Men are the morality police of the patriarchy. The creepy old guys who comment on young women’s photos to complain about their tattoos have a purpose, to let women know they are being watched, and their behavior will be commented upon for approval by the Greek chorus of creepy men. The men who tell me that expressing my emotions (other than anger of course, that’s always allowed) is undignified, and shows a lack of self-respect; I am being “unmanly.”
Like saying that if I didn’t distract myself every day from the inaction on climate catastrophe, the mass shootings, the crumbling of democracy, the christofascist takeover of the courts, that I’d cry my eyes out for the future of my nieces and nephews. Because we are cowards, just as guilty as the police who refused to rush in and protect school children from a gunman. We go to work every day instead of saying this is enough. But we voted! That’s all we can do, right? We know the powers are terrified of a general strike or a boycott; that’s why they are making it illegal for banks to divest from fossil fuels, genocidal theocratic allies, and arms dealers.
But we refuse to do it. We might lose our jobs.
And by we, of course, I mean… I.
That’s why there is no social safety net in the “land of the free.” (That and white supremacy, of course). You are free to assemble, in the free speech zone, unless a cop decides you are disorderly, or simply lies; you are unarmed, and they have no fear because you don’t have a battle rifle. Notice no one got arrested at the Michigan state house or other armed white protests. Maybe they have the right idea.
If they won’t ban battle rifles, maybe we need to buy them, and show up at protests with them—where legal, of course—and demand that they be banned. A scene out of a Vonnegut novel or an Abbie Hoffman protest. Absurd, but maybe the only way we will ever be taken seriously. Some schoolchildren have begun walkouts, but they will be punished for our sins. And while “the kids are all right,” we can’t depend on them to save us. We are the adults.
We are supposed to be saving the children.
Unlike the law enforcement of Uvalde, Texas.