[Editor's note: This was in response to "Mourning in America: When Will We Ever Learn?" Reprinted below.]
I am in 100% agreement.
Firearms regulations have been diluted, neutered, and defeated through the efforts of a small group of politically well-financed and well-organized fanatics that believe that an amendment allowing them to keep and bear arms is there to allow them to oppose the will of the government by force if they think it’s necessary. They’ll use hunting as a crutch to win a few more votes, but we all know that fully automatic rifles with clips that hold dozens of rounds of armor piercing ammunition are not hunting weapons. Neither of the two pistols the shooter in New Town had on him were hunting weapons. Those pistols were not target pistols either. All three weapons had no other purpose than what they were used for, killing human beings, and they were obtained legally. Is there anything else we need to know about them?
I will no longer vote for or donate to any politician or political organization that allows the NRA to influence them.
JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
MOURNING IN AMERICA: WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN?
By Jack Random
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Bob Dylan, Blowin’ in The Wind
I am a writer. It is who I am. Writing is what I do that gives my life fundamental meaning. Of course there is family and there are friends for whom I am eternally grateful to be able to share my thoughts and feelings, but writing is how I connect to the world and the worldwide web is my forum.
As the nation mourns the horrific actions of a deranged young man in a rural town in Connecticut, my eyes turn inward. I wonder what my life would be like if I were unable to formulate words or if no one wished to read or hear them. I don’t for a moment believe that I would resort to violence but I am also acutely aware of the frailty and unpredictability of human nature.
I know that words can convey only a small fraction of the depth of sorrow that the loss of a child visits to the soul. I know that the cry for vengeance after such an act is also a part of human nature and I know that it is in vain.
Who among us can say what vile acts we are capable of if the entire world seems to turn against us or, perhaps worse, turns its back as if we did not exist?
I am reminded of a moment of clarity in Michael Moore’s documentary film Bowling for Columbine, a poignant account of America’s first mass murder at a public school. Some had decided that a certain kind of music was at least partially to blame for the unthinkable actions of two young men and Marilyn Manson was at the top of the list. Moore asked Manson what he would say to the kids who perpetrated the crime. His reply was more revealing than dozens of media experts attempting to explain the event:
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did.”
No one can say that a failure to listen was a cause of the massacre at Columbine or Newtown, Connecticut. No one knows or will ever know but we do know this: Every educator, every administrator, instructional aide, nurse, counselor and school psychologist can identify children who desperately need help and do not receive it.
Politicians like to say “you can’t throw money at a problem” just before they lower the hammer for another round of budget cuts at the public schools. Maybe so but you can be sure that an absence of funding for essential resources does a great deal of harm.
Every school district and every school should have mental health professionals available to troubled students whenever and wherever they are needed. Simply stated, there is no money for services the politicians consider unessential.
We hear it every time there is a shooting at a school and everyone agrees but when the story fades and the schools face another round of budget cuts, as they inevitably will, the mental health counselors are the first to fall.
Words fail and mental health services are not enough. No matter what services we provide, no matter what precautions we take, no matter how many security measures we install at our houses of education, there will always be individuals who pose a threat not only to themselves but to others, not only to friends and family members but to innocent children.
Some say it is our culture of violence. I don’t buy it. In a civilized society, human nature trumps cultural influence. We are no more violent than our European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African or South American brethren. We are a compassionate people. We care deeply and we mourn for our fallen children.
We all know the numbers. We are among the world’s leaders in peacetime firearms casualties (4th behind South Africa, Colombia and Thailand according to NationMaster.com). We lead the world in gun ownership and availability and we have the weakest gun control laws in the industrialized world. Only in America can any random Jack walk into a gun show and walk out with the equivalent of an AK-47.
In our hearts, if we are honest, we know the reason behind the numbers. Like Bill Clinton said in reference to balancing the budget, it’s the math. It’s the laws of probability. The more guns we produce, the more assault weapons we make available, the more they will fall into the wrong hands.
This is not conjecture. This is not speculation. This is simple math. Like rats breeding in a confined space, our behavior and its consequences are eminently predictable. If there is a gun in your house, you and your loved ones are more likely to fall victim to gun violence. If we make it easier for deranged individuals to get their hands on assault weapons and rapid-fire clips, we guarantee that more innocent people will die.
In our hearts we know, yet we let it go on as if change in America is impossible. It is possible. We are a democracy and the voice of the people will ultimately be heard over the roar of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
One of the unintended consequences of the Supreme Court’s unconscionable Citizens United decision (legalizing unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns) is that organizations like the NRA are no longer major players. No politician must pander to the NRA any longer. For every dollar in NRA blood money there are at least a thousand from the elite international corporations. The gun industry can no longer dictate legislation in Washington.
That is not a good reason for long-due change but it is a political reality.
We are a nation in mourning. We cannot stop the tears with our collective sorrow. We can ease the suffering of the afflicted families only by small measures. We cannot prevent future tragedies from befalling others but this time we can at least take action that will mitigate the harm. This time we can begin to control our deadly weapons and have complete certainty that lives will be spared.
To paraphrase Pete Seeger’s anti-war ballad:
Where have all the flowers gone?
Gone to graveyards everyone.
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
To those who say they need their guns for target practice, I say the vicarious pleasures of a million target shooters is not worth the life of one child.
To those who say possession of firearms, from semi-automatic pistols to military quality assault rifles, is your god given right, I say our children have a god given right to live long and fruitful lives.
To those who hide behind the second amendment right to bear arms, I say you should be ashamed. Who appointed you the guardians of our democracy? I say: As long as we have the ballot box, we have no need for a self-anointed revolutionary militia. If ever we did, it would not be you.
Lay down your arms for the public good. Lay down your ammunition for the students of Columbine, for the people of Aurora, for the citizens of Tucson and Oak Creek, and for the children of Newtown.
It is time we answered the question “When will we ever learn?” emphatically: Now!
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.