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Guns, death, and the end of conversation

Is now a good time?

Can we talk about it now?

Anderson Cooper has left, the president is again tweeting about football, the site of the Route 91 Harvest Festival has been cleared and cleaned of blood and false narratives, Vegas is largely Vegas again, and the 58 killed are buried, cremated, their ghosts in empty bedrooms and at dinner tables across the country.1

We were told after Sandy Hook, don’t make it political, After Orlando, don’t. After Blacksburg, don’t. After Roseburg, don’t. After Killeen, don’t. After San Bernardino, don’t.

Didn’t matter.

“I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But: As harsh as this sounds—your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights,” Sam Wurzelbacher wrote back
in 2014.

Your kids, my .22. You lose.

That was his “Joe the Plumber” character—a monstrous blowhard. Nobody listens to Sam/Joe, though, right?

How about this guy?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) on Tuesday reiterated a normal Republican talking point that gun laws don’t affect gun violence, with a twist: It’s the existence of “sanctuary cities” that creates a lawless culture fostering mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas, he said.3

How about this guy?

“I have friends that have that many weapons. That’s not uncommon in my part of the country. I mean, I literally could tick off 10 names right now of people—they’re collectors, they’re sportsmen …  I mean, like 99.99 percent aren’t a threat to anybody … So, again, so are some trucks driving into crowds.”

That’s Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole.4 People listen to him.

And of course they both sent thoughts and prayers. All the Oklahoma reps did5—they’re not barbarians, after all—but it’s throwing popcorn to pigeons.

Fifty-eight dead and more than 500 wounded in Las Vegas on a Sunday night is not a defining American moment to them—it’s an inconvenience.

From the disparity in gun death statistics among civilized countries to the meaning of the Second Amendment itself, they hear what they want.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

To what militia did the Vegas shooter belong?

Jim Inhofe would rather talk about sanctuary cities; some of Cole’s best friends have UZIs. Neither wants to talk about comma splices in the Bill of Rights.

Someone’s daughter is dead because no government entity could stop a man from buying 33 guns in 12 months.6

He couldn’t have bought that much Sudafed.

Months back, after a shooting in a Washington park during a softball game, a married, gay woman saved Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise’s life. A bullet nearly blew apart his groin.

Scalise still stands behind the unlimited right to bear arms and spoke at an anti-LGBT event a few weeks back.7

But he’s pro-life.

The dead are props while still warm.

“This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.”

That’s Bill O’Reilly.8 He has two children. They weren’t killed in Vegas.

These people were:

Andrea Lee Anna Castilla, 28; Denise Cohen, 58; Austin William Davis, 29; Thomas Day, Jr., 54; Christiana Duarte, 22; Stacee Ann Etcheber, 50; Brian S Fraser, 39; Keri Galvan, 31; Dana Leann Gardner, 52; Angela C Gomez, 20; Rocio Guillen, 40.

Guns in America: Neo Nazis in basements have them; weekend sportsmen waiting for deer season have them. You prevent one from obtaining a weapon, you prevent the other. Some say that’s unfair. But is it?

Both have to take off their shoes at airport security, even if only one has a bomb in his loafer; both have to get car insurance, even if only one is a lousy driver; and both have to take drug tests before work, even if only one is making meth in the bathtub.

The National Rifle Association announced on October 5 that it supports a review of bump fire stocks to see if they are in accordance with federal law.9

If the panoply of guns and firearms were a full course dinner, the bump stock is the after dinner mints.  And the NRA will consider talking about them.

Princes they are.

Hannah Lassette Ahlers 34; Heather Lorraine Alvarado, 35; Dorene Anderson, 49; Carrie Rae Barnette, 34; Jack Reginald Beaton, 54; Stephen Richard Berger, 44; Candice Ryan Bowers, 40; Denise Burditus, 50; Sandra Casey, 34.

“The right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

That’s not Ruth Bader Ginsburg; that’s Antonin Scalia.10

Charleston Hartfield, 34; Christopher Hazencomb, 44; Jennifer Topaz Irvine, 42; Teresa Nicol Kimura, 38; Jessica Klymchuk, 34; Carly Anne Kreibaum, 34; Rhonda M LeRocque, 42; Victor L Link, 55; Jordan McIldoon, 24; Kelsey Breanne Meadows, 28; Calla-Marie Medig, 28; James Melton, 29; Patricia Mestas, 67; Austin Cooper Meyer, 24; Adrian Allan Murfitt, 35.

 There are approximately 300 million guns in this country, double what we had in 1968.

More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.11

In 2009—2009, alone. One year—Americans bought 12 billion rounds of ammunition.12

How many generations will it take to rid the country of that much poison, that much power?

O’Reilly, Wurzelbacher are right: Freedom is just another word for what you have to lose.

The NRA encourages guns in America the way Israel encourages settlements in the occupied West Bank. It is a fait accompli, the new abnormal. Inundate the country with guns and ammunition, neuter the regulations, and then complain the regulations are ineffective. We have laws against pedophilia, and children still get abused. We have laws against rapacious lending, and people still lose their homes. We have laws against dumping toxic wastes in water tables, and people still get Legionnaires. Nobody suggests doing away with those laws because they’re not perfect. But 58 lie dead off Las Vegas Boulevard and, really, what can be done?

How many lives are saved by more regulation, fewer guns. Maybe not a lot. Maybe just one suicide victim, maybe one three-year old accidentally shot by her seven-year-old brother, maybe your daughter and her friends at the mall.

Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes, and assaults committed with handguns. This level of violence must be stopped. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.”

That wasn’t Chuck Schumer. That was Ronald Reagan in the 1991.13

“I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

That wasn’t Hillary Clinton. That was Karl T. Frederick, past-president of the NRA.    

I’d say tell that to these people except you can’t. They’re dead.

Rachael Kathleen Parker, 33; Jennifer Parks, 36; Carolyn Lee Parsons, 31; Lisa Marie Patterson, 46; John Joseph Phippen, 56; Melissa V Ramirez, 26; Jordyn N Rivera, 21; Quinton Robbins, 20; Cameron Robinson, 28; Tara Ann Roe, 34; Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48; Christopher Louis Roybal, 28; Brett Schwanbeck, 61; Bailey Schweitzer, 20; Laura Anne Shipp, 50; Erick Silva, 21; Susan Smith, 53; Brennan Lee Stewart, 30; Derrick Dean Taylor, 56; Neysa C Tonks, 46; Michelle Vo, 32; Kurt Allen Von Tillow, 55; William W Wolfe, Jr., 42.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre said once. He said it again on “Face the Nation” … last week.

If every one of those Vegas concertgoers had a gun, they would all be dead, their guns not pried from their cold dead hands.

The day after the massacre in America, gun retailers said business was booming.14 It wasn’t just the sportsmen and hunters who went shopping.

I called my good friend and  novelist Shane Gericke (“Torn Apart,” “The Fury”), who, for reasons that had nothing to do with Vegas, sold 48 of his guns, leaving him with three.

“I know some guys can’t have enough around the house,” he said. “In a nutshell as tight as an acorn: If no one tries to hurt me, I will go to my grave never pulling that gun on anyone. If a predator insists I should die, however, I will act accordingly, as my life is worth far more than his.”

So, what happened to us?

“As to why mass shootings are becoming so ‘popular’ in the past two years, funny that the beginning of the jump seems to have coincided with the beginning of the Presidential campaign—the most scandalous, lie-filled, hate-infested, campaign in my memory. The Trump administration and its media and social media enablers have only poured gasoline onto that roaring fire of hate. If limiting everyone to, say, five guns would guarantee no more mass murders, I would be the first to sign up. But it won’t, and since we will never have a gun ban in the country—guns and Manifest Destiny and the Wild West are part of the founding myth of America that we will never abandon in our secret hearts—we have to pursue socioeconomic ways to get through to these maniacs. Gun control by itself won’t do it.”

He’s right, he’s wrong.

Just know that if you went to the Tulsa State Fair, the only reason you’re reading this, the only reason you’re alive today is because Stephen Paddock didn’t rent a room at the Expo Inn the night you were there.

Your daughter, 23; your grandson, 2; your wife, 41; your grandmother, 86; your brother in law, 46; your adopted son, 11; your neighbor’s kids, 6 and 9; your favorite restaurant owner, 41; your husband, 29; your mistress, 33; your doctor, 47; your pastor, 71; your U.S. House Representative, 68; your U.S. senator, 82.

Too soon?

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