What happened in Vegas can’t stay in Vegas
Fuck “thoughts and prayers”.
Another 59 human beings — each with a story, dreams, family and friends forever damaged— mowed down by an angry, deranged white man (yes, it definitely does matter; black and Muslim men, and it’s always men, don’t get to be ‘lone wolfs’) with easy access to high-powered weapons. Firearms designed for war, solely to kill as many humans as possible, as fast as possible.
“People killed at a concert, man, you gotta ban that thug music, hip hop, rap, and all that violent stuff, even trash metal. Oh, it was country music? Never mind. What, there were no ‘good guys with a gun’ in the crowd? Wow, from the 32nd floor, shit. From a hotel window? Ban hotels! No, wait, I like those damn breakfast buffets…. ban windows! Nah, you’re right, I also enjoy sunlight and oxygen. Well, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. So I guess the solution is … uh, simply to keep letting people kill people — guns are the best for that — and soon there will be no people to kill other people! Anyway, our President said it right, the dude was just a ‘very sick individual’… The Donald knows very sick individuals! And I need a semi-automatic rifle to protect my freedom!”.
Shit, silly me, I was strolling down the streets of Berlin the other day, and people be free as hell, man, everybody doing whatever the fuck they like, and they were only bearing flat whites and long-boards in their hands! The same happens in EVERY. FUCKING. MAJOR. WEALTHY. CITY. IN. THE. ENTIRE. FUCKING. WORLD. This is how prosperous, free, democratic regimes roll, perhaps the US would like to join?
“But the Second Amendment guarantees my right to have any weapon I want, and as many as I want!”
Oh, really? Did you park your tank outside? Do you take a bazooka to lunch at Quizno’s? Got any brand-spanking-new machine guns stored in your garage? How many mid-life crises (let’s hold back on ‘small manhood’ jokes) does it take to feel a need to own 43 firearms? Oh, by the way, which part of the Second Amendment notes anybody can buy as much ammunition as they want?
“Doesn’t matter, dude, Americans have the right to protect themselves from a tyrannical government!”
Best of luck to you, champ. Am sure the 82nd Airborne Division will be fucking terrified when they see your AR-15 and those fatigues you bought at Walmart. Am sure your buddies can take care of the 182,000 incoming Marines. Let’s hope for all of our sake that said “tyrannical government” doesn’t decide to use its nukes.
OK, fine, so what to do? The first thing is to honestly separate this sort of atrocious massacre from the steady flow of blood brought by firearms on a daily basis. (Not to mention gun suicides, two-thirds of gun deaths in the US).
Think of it as two different types of very aggressive cancers (lung and brain, say). There are some similarities and general preventive actions that should be taken (good diet/exercise for cancer, universal background checks for totally preventable death and mayhem that happens nowhere else in the highly developed world), but not every single medicine is going to help with both.
There are many, many more gun control measures (both legislative and administrative/operational) that can and should be implemented post-haste. Unfortunately, every day ‘from sea to shining sea’ is another opportunity to cherry-pick gun violence tragedies and the policies that would — and wouldn’t — have helped. But look here people, “gun control acts on gun violence the way antibiotics act on infections — imperfectly but with massive efficacy”.
And yes, GUN CONTROL! Not (only) gun safety. Hear me, “gun rights” advocates? Guns are objects, they don’t have rights. Does your fucking refrigerator have rights? Didn’t you infringe your toaster’s ‘rights’ this morning at breakfast?
For all kinds of gun violence ‘cancer’, as a bare-minimum, universal background checks. Immediately, if not sooner. It’s a start, and we desperately need a start. FFS already, 80% of Americans support this! No similar proportion can agree on anything nowadays, probably not even if the earth is round or whether POTUS works for America or Russia.
But, lo and behold, background checks are not a silver-bullet, as the Vegas massacre demonstrated. Guess what? Nothing is a silver-bullet when it comes to reducing all forms of gun violence!
So let’s at least take one policy take-away from Vegas — and most recent mass shootings: war weaponry has no place among civilians. Period. Again, a majority of Americans agree that “assault weapons” should be banned — and you better believe those numbers are about to go up.
It’s been done before (thanks Bill!). Let’s do it again. No, it will not solve all gun violence. Not even most gun violence. It will preclude some specific kinds of horrific gun violence. That’s already a good thing.
“You can’t ban assault-weapons, there’s no such thing!” OK, technically that’s true, there is no universally accepted definition thereof. “Military-grade”. “Repetitive death and mayhem machines”. You can call them a few different things, if you’d like. The NRA acknowledges, nay, celebrates the fact that these are war weapons. If you want to keep arguing semantics, we can make things simpler and ban all semi-automatic long firearms, how’s that? Pistols and hunting rifles still OK, everything else illegal. Oh, “assault weapons” is fine?
Regardless, you can determine which weapons were designed for war, and ban those, together with their ‘civilian’ versions. Incidentally, the world now knows that with a few modifications they can basically be transfigured into automatic machine guns. “Bump stock”, another term the world could have done without learning.
Ultimately, this is about money. This is about the profits the gun industry rakes in, and the portion they ‘re-invest’ in buying members of Congress. Fear — including the sort caused by Democratic presidents — is good for the gun industry, which bankrolls the NRA. Motherfuckers, what a perfect business model — the worst thing caused with their product is actually good for their bottom line!
But the NRA’s ‘business model’ is not sustainable in the long-term, what with demographic, cultural, and life-style changes and, wait for it, evolution. An organization that no-longer represents “lawful gun owners”, could sooner or later change course from the inside. Won’t hold my breath, but it’s happened before (Any card-holding members with a backbone care to update the Revolt at Cincinnati?).
It’s easy — logical even — to despair given recent history and think nothing will change. But it will, probably fairly soon. Not this week, probably not this month. But when it does, it will come fast. Change already started at the State level, even though there is a proverbial shit load of work ahead — hello Nevada, am looking at you.
“Oh, you can’t change the US’s ‘gun culture’”. Spoiler alert: it’s changing already. Don’t take my word for it. Ask Colbert, Trevor, Seth, Conan, Jimmy, hot damn, even Fallon. (Personally, I think history books will show Sandy Hook was the tipping point).
While a few are still relatively new, the US now has several professional, well-funded civil society organizations to resist the NRA. Eventually a few NRA puppets will lose their seats in Congress — precisely because they are fucking amoral, uncaring assholes with blood-tainted hands to stick into their full-of-gun-industry-cash pockets — and the tide will turn.
Impossible? Ask the guy who (legally) smoked some prime marijuana with his boyfriend of ten years after they (legally) got married the other day whether he thought he’d be doing that ten years ago. Shit happens (OK, a lot). But change happens sometimes as well. And it will again.