After finishing the Scientology book, I decided not to read books I already had, and buy a book called, “Columbine.” I’m sure you can guess what it’s about. I don’t know my deal with non-fiction at the moment, and I can honestly say that I never would have pegged myself as a non-fiction reader when I was younger. But I’ve turned into one of those people as an adult.
Anyway, I’m only 7 or 8 (very short) chapters in, but there have been times when I’ve been sitting there reading to myself, and my only reaction is complete awe (along with some choice words at times). Utter shock followed by thoughts like, “WHAT is wrong with people?!!??!!”
The book is written in point-blank tone, with sentences like, “Cassie was worried about her prom dress that Friday evening. By Monday, Eric would kill her.” It’s more than striking. It’s like “The Virgin Suicides,” except it wasn’t written by Jeffrey Eugenides, and it’s not fiction. This happened. And the author’s account isn’t creative meandering into the mind of a sick, fictional alter ego, it’s all based on facts, conversations, research, police investigations, journals, video tapes, etc.
I’ll review the book more when I’m finished, but it was purely coincidence that I began reading it the day of the Washington DC Navy Yard shooting. I saw the news on Twitter, which is (sadly or not depending on your perspective) how I get a lot of my breaking news.
This is the first time news like this didn’t take my breath away. When I read about the shooting the Newtown elementary school, I yelpled, “What?! Why would someone do that?!” When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, I gasped audibly in my cube at work, “No! No, no, no, no!” This time, with the Navy shooting, I just thought, “What? Again?!” And I feel like too many people have reached this point of numbness regarding the violence that happens every day in small towns and big cities, in places that are supposed to be “safe” (schools, churches, military bases, etc.).
We often can’t know what was going through a lot of these murderers’ heads as they plan or spontaneously undertake these attacks. The “Columbine” book offers the inside perspective based on scrupulous records the boys took. However, these attacks almost always end in death for the shooters/bombers, so there’s no finding things out afterward. No moment of vindication or explanation that we desperately want to feel.
Then the news reports come in from the manager of the shoe store that the murderer once visited (my thoughts on media in these situations are reserved for another post), and we hear what seems like one of two things, “I never saw it coming! S/he was such a nice person.” Or, “All the signs were there, we just never put them together.”
Which brings me to the point of guns…
Now, let’s not get all huffy right off the bat. Sean and I have guns. In no way do I think guns should be banned.
That being said, I was not raised around guns. They still scare me. I’ve been to the shooting range, and I get a hollow pit in my stomach as the bullet exits the chamber and slices through the thin paper targets. I choose the targets because I don’t like shooting at the human form. I know this makes me seem like a wimpy bleeding heart. (And, yes, this is part of the reason I’m vegetarian. If I can’t kill it myself, I believe I have no right to let other people do it for me while I pretend to ignore how meat “happens.”)
I understand that other people love guns. I know shooting guns makes them feel powerful. I know people love the types of guns, the accessories, the collections. I know people enjoy them the same way others enjoy cars or shoes or books.
But gun violence in America is getting out of hand. Not that there’s a level that’s considered “under control.” And taking money and flack and bullshit lies from the NRA because they’re OMG afraid a discussion about it will mean all the guns in America will be confiscated, is stupid and irresponsible. Sure, there are rules, but they are obviously easy to get around.
The NRA is against a computerized database of gun owners because it’s OMG tracking. Meanwhile, when a gun crime is committed now, the gun has to be traced back to the dealer who sold it, who has to search through paper records in the store from the original purchaser. Who knows what other transactions have gone on since then? Who knows if the gun seller has retired? Or if the records were destroyed in hurricane Katrina.
This is ridiculous.
In the Navy Yard shooting in DC, the media can point out flaws in the system like, “The Navy only does exactly 1/2 a background check for contractors!” [Edit: Thanks to keen gun-aware people, I’ve been informed that gun ownership does require background checks. Sean could have told me that, but oh well.] The arms sales industry gives zero cares if you’re going to take your gun home to add to your shrine of weaponry or take it to the nearest “safe place” and shoot up a bunch of innocents (in fact, their business does better when the latter happens because everyone freaks out about losing their beloved gun-collections).
I know the media does a decent job of playing up the amount of gun violence that happens in our country. There’s plenty of other violence that occurs while our heads are turned and our hearts riled up about the latest “controversy” we should be angry about–domestic violence, violence against children, racial violence, etc.
No matter how many people are killed, it means nothing if we have a “fervent discussion” every time and then forget about it until the next publicized attack. It means nothing if we can’t talk about mental health provisions, helping parents with children who need help, and elements of gun tracking equally.
People are dying in other countries at the hands of their own governments, and America is right there to help.
Americans are dying at the hands of their own countrymen, and government politics and lobbying manage to do nothing but talk until the subjects dies, and all the victims die in vain.
I don’t know the answer. I’m not claiming to. I don’t think anyone does for sure until there’s a discussion unaffected by party politics, business interests, and under-the-table money about WHY this is happening and HOW we can fix it.
If you read this far down, thanks. And I’d like to know your thoughts on the issue. I don’t know anything close to everything about this, so I welcome information. No matter your opinion, though, please don’t be an ass to be an ass.