Thursday, October 5, 2017

A delayed reaction to events in Nevada


The gun safety movement ended about five years ago. 20 children were murdered in Connecticut in a spate of gun violence and we did nothing about it. For months I could not stop thinking about disproportionately enormous exit wounds on diminutive five-year-old bodies. A majority of our elected representatives did not see it that way. As a gun violence survivor I sobbed while politicians counted votes.

Holding elective office is more important than how one performs in that elective office. The National Rifle Association helps people hold elective office. The NRA also has the power to deprive someone of elective office if he or she has the temerity to defy the gun manufacturers who control the organization. The same group of citizens that is seemingly obsessed with American sovereignty has willingly ceded their intellectual sovereignty, and their votes, to a not-for-profit-for-profit organization that has no interest in their wellbeing.

Because of the gun fetish, a certain segment of our population has been persuaded that common sense gun safety means that their weapons will be confiscated. Who then will protect them from their own government? We live in a time when people like Alex Jones are capable of earning millions of dollars selling useless junk while using preposterous conspiracy theories as the vehicle for obtaining the attention of a devoted audience. People are actually willing to believe that some tornadoes are "weather weapons" unleashed by their own government.

When I was a kid we all knew that the National Enquirer was entertainment, not news. However, our collective ability to be critical thinkers — our national intellectual curiosity — seems to decline each year. Having elected Agent Orange I have given up on the concept of basic American common sense. People not only vote against their own economic interests; they vote against their own safety. It is frankly inexplicable. They continue to vote against their own good health as well but that is for another day.

Anxious and depressed I spoke with another gun violence survivor this morning. She caught a .38 in her shoulder blade (mine was a .45 in the back which ravaged my right hip). Like me she has acute PTSD. We both take pretty much the same meds — the Bethesda cocktail. She has the same heightened symptoms this week including intense anxiety, an inability to focus, impaired judgment and short-term memory loss. The most common denominator is mad-at-the-world seething.

I mention this phone conversation because I am reminded that a good portion of the 500+ wounded in Nevada are probably going to suffer from the same mental disorder. There is no cure; it is a lifelong illness and it gets worse over time. When their wounds heal they will be left with a not-so-friendly reminder of what happened. Some of those people are going to lose spouses, friends, jobs and even their dignity to the derangement of someone who shot them for no apparent reason. At least I knew why I was shot (it was to stop an internal audit). That gives me a rational basis to deal with the event. Yet so often I am utterly irrational.

I could easily be the next mass shooter. People who have suffered violence have increased potential to do violence. Yet there is nothing to prevent me from purchasing the same weapons as those used from the high ground at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

The religious right preach to us about morality all day long. At the same time they are uniformly proponents of weapons-for-all anytime and anywhere. Tony Perkins has been raising money off of the deranged gunman who shot and slightly wounded an employee. He has never questioned how an insane person got a gun. Rather, he has used the incident to somehow blame Southern Poverty Law Center in order to attempt to delegitimize their designation of Family Research Council as a hate group. Gun safety is irrelevant to Mr. Perkins in spite of his first-hand experience. Perkins is insane.

A few months before Sandy Hook, there was the shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. 12 killed, 70 injured.

And we did nothing.

Since those kids were murdered in Sandy Hook: The Navy Yard shooting. 12 killed. 14 deaths in a San Bernardino shooting. 49 people senselessly murdered at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and many more. I wish that people were as fearful of gun violence as they are about terrorism. Look at the goddamned numbers. Which is more likely to kill you? Since 9/11 fewer than 100 people were killed by terrorists in this country. In that same time period more than 220,000 people have been killed by gun violence. Trump's Muslim ban is unlikely to make anyone safer. How many people could be saved with universal background checks and bans on assault-style weapons?

Want to talk about American exceptionalism? We are the world's leader in gun homicides among industrialized nations. When it comes to that carnage we are in a world of our own:

Daily gun homicides if all nations had the same
population as the United States
This week it's 59 killed and, again, we will probably do nothing!

We are as irrational as the people committing the gun violence. For years, as a sales trainer, I preached that there are two reasons that people do not take action to correct a problem:
  1. Either they are unaware of the problem or;
  2. The are not sufficiently disturbed to take action.
I was wrong. We must add insanity to that list and arrogance. Politicians are literally sacrificing human lives to get elected. We permit them to do that. People are literally dying so that they can obtain or retain public office. It is immoral and it is irrational. Senseless.

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