Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tired of the Hypocrisy? I am.

To all the politicians who are shedding tears, expressing condolences, vouching support to the victims of gun violence, I will say this: Your game's up. We've heard it before, and we know you have taken us for a bunch of fools. Perhaps it's because so many of us act like fools that you have learned to take advantage of our gullibility, or our idiocy, but that does not make you right: it just makes you callous.

Tomorrow, the same politicians who have shed their tears, crocodile or sincere it makes no difference, will go back to work and do... nothing. Or perhaps something, but still too little to change things, nothing bold. When they looked the survivors in the eye, and told them that they will not be forgotten, they were lying. When they were calling out to the dead, to tell them that they will not have died in vain, they were lying.

And it's not just politicians. All gun owners who steadfastly reject the idea that we need new laws, because all we have to do is enforce the ones on the books are deluded (and because they are armed, they are doubly dangerous): The perpetrator of the Aurora shooting legally bought all his guns, all the ammunition, the tear gas, the body armor, the explosive materials. No red flags raised. So obviously the laws on the books do not suffice.

Should we then ban all guns outright? Ideally, we would live in a society that would not feel the need to arm itself, but that's not the case. Also ideally, we would live in a society where people would understand that human nature is not good or evil, altruistic or selfish: it's just human nature. Which means that some people are perfectly capable of behaving responsibly towards others all of the time; some are capable of doing it most of the time; some are jerks, and some are idiots. And some are good people who snap. So putting weapons in anyone's hands is a dangerous thing to do, and that's just realism, not statism.

Realistically, though, we cannot ban death by violence. People intent on killing can do it with supplies from the grocery store. Brutes can do it with their hands. People who snap can stab someone to death or run someone over with a car, and that's no reason for banning kitchen utensils or driving. But, once again, no one says that we have to make it easy for good people who snap, or plainly evil people, to take as many lives as they can in less than 60 seconds.

We can never prevent a scorned lover from killing his scorning love, as well as all children, parents, and grandparents, with a gun. But why be complicit in mass murder by allowing him (I'd say her, but female mass murderers are quite rare) to go on a rampage at a food court filled with innocent strangers, armed with an AK47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition? Why not set up a system that makes it possible for "responsible citizens" to shoot their AK47 or other mass murdering weapon for fun at a shooting range, and ask them to lock their gun in a secure locker at the range before they leave? (That's just an example, of course, of things that could easily be done.)

No one needs an Uzi for personal defense, or 33 rounds in a Glock. If you do, then you are not a responsible citizen, but rather a drug lord or a bank robber.

And in the Die Hard series Bruce Willis starts off by killing bad guys with a pistol, then steals their assault weapons from them to finish the rest off. Surely, you can do the same if it ever happens to you that you need to save the world.

But if you do not recognize the fact that this country has a gun problem, that the odds that you will ever need a gun in self defense are one in several millions, lower than those of being killed in a random shooting, and that restrictions on the sale--and use--of guns, ammunition, and other murder weapons are necessary, then at least be frank: Tell the victims in Aurora, in Tuscaloosa, in Littleton, at Virginia Tech, and in all the shootings that occur in the country every year, that it's not a matter of the Second Amendment; it's not a matter of self-defense. It's not even a matter of freedom, because you have already given up your "right" to weaponize your car (certainly for most people drinking is as much of a pleasure as shooting guns, but we have accepted the removal of our freedom to drink and drive).

Tell the truth: You love your guns and the pleasure you get from owning them and shooting with them. You love it so much that you will rationalize any death for the privilege of being able to continue to own them and shoot with them.

Tell the innocent victims of all these mass murders and shootings, their friends, and their families that their death is but the price society has to pay so you can continue to enjoy your pleasure. That would be honest. Shedding tears for them while refusing to sacrifice some of your incredibly expansive rights is not, so don't cry for them. Not in my sight. Not in theirs.

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