I really didn’t want to talk about it.
I really didn’t.
Tom called me and said we had to, and I suppose its our duty to not pretend nothing happened and run comedy anyway. But the whole thing stinks.
This evening, I took my wife out to eat at a reasonably fashionable restaurant. To my right, but across from me was a flustered father with a salt and pepper beard. Across from him, was an extremely placid Asian woman. Behind her back, apparently asleep was a small child.
He woke up rapidly, and tentatively started to feel his way around the table, but barely two minutes later it was play time. And he had a ball. He had an absolutely one-sided wrestling match with his mother, he slapped every surface in sight, he waved and greeted everyone in a half-mile radius and was generally charming.
As they started to leave, it hit me. This afternoon, in Sandy Hook Connecticut, someone shot kids just like that one.
Someone killed kids. We’ll look for data, but there isn’t going to be an answer to satisfy us, because there isn’t one sufficient to explain why you would randomly shoot children. Nothing about this is going to be satisfying, but we’ll look for answers anyway, because we don’t know what else to do.
I didn’t want to talk about this, because I knew what was going to happen. For some reason, America has produced the sort of person who hears news like this, and immediately begins to worry about their gun rights.
Every time there is a mass shooting they start to show up: the conspiracy theorists that think that a milquetoast, moderate President initiated a convoluted scheme to take their precious guns, the ‘expert’ who believes that if EVERYONE had a gun, the whole thing would never have happened, the person who tells us sanctimoniously that its the finger that pulls the trigger that we should blame, and not the instrument itself, and so on.
We don’t seem to be capable of sane, balanced conversations in this country anymore. Nor is there any perspective. The moment the news broke about these poor children, it became a political free-for-all, and modern politics is all about why you’re right, and why people who disagree with you are wrong. There is no exchange of ideas, no compromise, just a relentless string of half-truths.
You want the truth?
We live in a country where the Constitution allows us to keep guns. The guns are so that you aren’t taken from your house and held without trial by your government. As an idea, the premise is sort of flawed and in the last 15 or so years, its gone really badly.
The Patriot Act basically indicated that once you were classified as a terrorist, then you could be held without trial. Who defined you as a terrorist? The government. What constitutes terrorism? They weren’t telling. There was no Tea Party out in the streets. There were no angry politicians. No one did anyone. Being held without trial was the whole point of having the guns in the first place. At that point, the entire Constitution was compromised.
We had a ban on assault rifles. A sane person realizes that a citizen doesn’t need an assault rifle to defend themselves. A sane person also acknowledges that weapons like this did not exist when the Constitution was drafted, and these problems couldn’t have been anticipated. An assault rifle is great for killing lots of people quite easily, which is fine for the military, but sort of useless for a private citizen. The ban effectively drove up the prices for both legal and illegal weapons, limiting the amount of people who had access to them.
It expired in 2004. Ever since then, the news has been dominated by some brat who didn’t like the card they dealt themselves and took it out on innocent people. Common people have to live in fear of old boyfriends, ex-husbands, ex-employees, or just random people attacking them with an assault weapon.
And honestly, even with the assault rifle, if the government really wanted to take you, they still could, quite easily. Remember the Somali pirates? They had automatic weapons. Didn’t help.
So now we have the guns the Founding Fathers couldn’t have known about, to enforce the Constitution that we willingly compromised, for the weapon we’re misusing. Its absurd.
And the people that still argue about it are absurd. Their solutions are ridiculous. I don’t want to live in a country where everyone is carrying a concealed handgun, where the slightest dispute could turn into dozens of people firing their weapon randomly. Ask the people of Israel what’s it like to live on edge all the time.
I don’t want to live in a country where everything turns into a political argument all the time. And I don’t want to live in a country where somebody has the ability to shoot a bunch of kids. I’m sick of all, and I don’t think that means anything.
I don’t think the sort of person I’m talking about reads anything like this. I don’t think they know how to be reasonable. I don’t think they have any empathy. I think they’ll call me a lousy liberal, at least until their kid gets shot. I think all the future holds for us is increasingly belligerent man-children, spurred on by manipulative tycoons, lashing out at a world that is getting more and more unfamiliar to them. I think that this is going to happen over and over again.
This evening as we waited for our meal, our table set among a series of ornate, tapioca-colored pillars and artificially perfect ferns, I looked at the strip of mirror that ran behind our backs, laid flush against the wall. I saw the child’s small handprint against the glass, although he was long gone at that point.
For some reason, it made me even sadder.