Early this morning, I posted this message to my Facebook page:
If anyone continues to feel that we need more relaxed gun laws in this country, I say to you that you are crazy. Slaughter and murder are happening all around. Let's get our collective head out of our collective, fraidy-cat ass, and make some change. Holding #charleston in the light.
Twelve hours later, I concur.
I just don't know what it's going to take for our country to move on the issue of gun regulation, nor do I understand why we appear to be marching backwards in time towards an ugly past. Racism and guns are a combustible mix. They aren't causal but the connections are clearly there.
Black Americans are "killed at twelve times the rate of people in other developed countries." (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, 18 June 2015) If you want to see how we compare, read this piece from FiveThirtyEight that was published today. A sad comparison within is this: the homicide rate per 100,00 people for black Americans is 19.4; for white Americans it's 2.5.
I am so angry and demoralized about the lack of government leadership on gun control. Columbine happened in 1999. Since, there have been more than 40 more school shootings, including that at Sandy Hook which killed more than 25 and seemed so horrific that I thought change might actually come.
In the meantime, there was the Aurora, CO, theater massacre, the Fort Hood disaster, Oakland, Santa Monica, as well as all the many individuals shot dead.
Last year alone, there were "283 separate incidents in which four or more people were shot." (Gary Younge, The Guardian, 18 June 2015)
Gun-regulation rhetoric grows louder but nothing happens. Citizens and government leaders who have no real idea what the Second Amendment was written to protect scream like feral beasts about their rights to bear arms. Instead of restricting where those arms can be brought, we expand their reach by allowing them in bars, churches, airports and college campuses. We enact bullshit legislation like Stand Your Ground and we elect racist assholes like Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
All of this serves as a hideous veil behind which killers hide and then get away. They are police officers who murder unarmed citizens and are then acquitted. They are bigoted punks who promote themselves to neighborhood guardians and shoot and/or report suspicious -read: "of color"- others in their midst. Some are mentally ill, but not all; some are just hateful and mean. They are racist and ignorant. They shouldn't have guns in the first place.
More guns does not a civilized society make.
We watch again and again and again as the tears of mothers, fathers, children and friends are prayed for and then forgotten. We wring our hands in sympathy and outrage but when the dirt covers the coffins, our attention shifts.
This is shameful. It is not leadership, and it is not compassion. It is immoral and cowardly and weak, and all who do not vociferously insist on change are culpable in the continuation of such unnecessary tragedy and inexcusable disregard.
If we cannot simply say "NO MORE" after children are slaughtered and families are ripped apart and welcoming church congregations are shot up during a prayer group, then we are a pitifully impotent country.
Not a day after Dylann Roof murdered nine black people (including three older than 70) at the Emanual A.M.E. church in Charleston, right wing pundits ignored the racial dimension and asserted that his rampage was an attack on faith. They asked whether pastors should be armed. And the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol building continued to fly high.
I don't understand how these images don't haunt change into our leaders. I am outraged and heartbroken and ashamed.