Here We Go Again

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A few months back, a segment on the “Daily Show with Trevor Noah” presented a kind of generic report after a mass shooting. The point was that mass shootings happen so often in the United States that all we have to do is to fill in the specific details of the event. Everything else would be the same. Some loner mentally disturbed individual– fill in the blank– took an assault weapon into a public place – fill in the blank – and killed and injured a number of people. – fill in the blank.
The president will speak words of comfort. We will hear about the shooter. We will hear stories of the victims. There will be candle-light vigils. People will brings flowers and teddy bears in a pop-up memorial. Half the nation will speak of stronger gun laws. The other half will talk about mental health and our violent popular culture. A few days will pass, and we will be on to the next thing until the next mass shooting when it all starts all over again.
I have written over and over about gun violence in the United States. Last June, after the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina at the Mother Emanuel Church where African-American church goers were killed by a young white racist, I wrote a two-part essay inspired by the incident. Part one was about the Cost of Cowardice of this country on the issue of race. The second part was about the Cost of Cowardice of our law makers to pass gun regulations. We as a society pay a high price not only in medical and legal costs but also in lost wages and productivity when citizens have long -term physical disabilities caused by gun violence and cannot be as productive as they might have been before the shooting. (http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2015/07/22/the-cost-of-cowardice-part-two/)
More important, the loss of one’s loved one or friend is beyond calculation. The injury of a loved one whose life will never be the same is also beyond calculation.
We also ought to place these mass shooting within the context of every day gun violence in the United States where almost 90 people die daily from guns. Children find guns and become accidental killers. Women and children are more likely to become victims of gun violence when there is a gun in their house. This is not rocket science.
Now, in this latest event, a young homophobic man who happens to be a Muslim goes into a night club frequented by the LGBTQIA community, but not exclusively so, and perpetrates the most deadly mass killing in the history of the United States. He pledged allegiance to Daesh – a.k.a. ISIS – either before or during the crime. Now, we have not one but two distractions from seeing the main problem.
Rather than looking at the common denominator in most mass shootings – access to assault weapons and high volume magazines – we are thinking about Muslims and about terrorism inspired by Daesh.
Let us not be distracted. THE PROBLEM IS GUNS.
I have written about how in the United State we have a deadly idolatry of guns. (http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2016/01/11/human-sacrifice-and-the-idolatry-of-the-gun/) We have deluded ourselves into thinking that they will keep us safe. The evidence shows otherwise. We have confused the second amendment right to keep and bear arms with freedom. I say and say again, that the second amendment too often reduces freedom rather than enhances it. Troubled young men with access to military style weapons, firepower that to which NO CITIZEN SHOULD HAVE ACCESS, have made ordinary Americans less free to go to the movies, church, school, an outdoor political meeting, or to a nightclub without thinking whether or not some lunatic loser will open fire.
We already hear the same old same old about not politicizing a tragedy. I say that these horrific events are political because our lawmakers have the power to make it, if not impossible, at least more difficult for disturbed people or anyone to get their hands on assault weapons. We are in a political season. Elected officials hold power in trust. Election Day is coming, and it is the day when We the People take our power back. We decide who will hold power until the next Election Day.
It is time that we hold the representatives who will not pass gun regulations accountable. It is time to send them home and replace them with representatives who do not worship at the altar of the gun and of the National Rifle Association.
Yes, it is the same old same old. I have said this before and will say it again and again and again and. . .
 
 
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”