Friday, January 21, 2011
Come Back to the U.S. – We Weren’t Shooting at You
Dave Barry makes me laugh so hard that I usually grab a paper bag and a box of tissues when I read his work, to prepare myself for the hyperventilating-crying fit that is inevitable. And when he pitched this slogan for his fine and classy city of Miami, "Come Back to Miami. – We Weren’t Shooting at You," it was hilarious. "Hahaha, that should be our slogan for Oakland!" I thought.
Now it seems less funny.
At this point, why assign it to just a city when it is a tragically accurate slogan for the current state of our entire country.
Signs should be posted at all of our border check points and international airport terminals: "Come Back to the U.S. – We Weren’t Shooting at You."
Since Gabrielle Gifford's "Congress on Your Corner" gundown, I have had to read about an accidental shooting at a Los Angeles High School where a student's gun, resting oh-so-safely in his backpack, went off during class, hitting a male student in the neck and a female student in the head. And a man in Philadelphia who shot his "friend" in the chest for eating some of his cake.
On July 18, 2010 I sat in my apartment in downtown Oakland and listened to Byron Williams, outfitted with a bulletproof vest and a carload of guns, open fire on the California Highway Patrol. Williams, inspired by the motivational teachings of Glenn Beck, was on his way to gun down the San Francisco ACLU and the Tides Foundation, which was prevented only because he was driving erratically on I-580. The rest of Oakland's summer was rife with racial tension due to the before, during, and aftermath of the Johannes Mehserle trial, where a young, white BART cop shot and killed a young, black BART rider named Oscar Grant. The protests, mobs and riots continued on through the rest of the year.
Can anything take place that is outrageous enough to entice stricter gun laws in our country?
It seems not, as too many people have the opposite reaction than I do. How it is that an increase in gun violence can motivate so many people to want more guns has to be the most confusing part. After the Gifford tragedy, the owner of an Arizona gun shop reported a stampede - stampede! - of new customers. The sickest thing of all being that the number one seller during this spike in gun purchases was the exact model used by Jared Lee Loughnerin against Gifford and so many others only days before. This increase in gun sales was seen across the nation.
And yesterday was the icing on the cake. On January 5, 2011, a 17-year-old Omaha, Nebraska student shot and killed an assistant principal of his high school, shot and wounded a principal and than shot and killed himself. Yesterday's response? A Nebraska lawmaker wants to pass a law making it legal for teachers to be able to carry concealed guns in school.
As amazing and thoughtful of a solution as this sounds, somehow it seems a better idea to rid schools of guns, not pack schools full of them.
It is obvious that our country has gone mad. So can't we just plead insanity? If we did, none of us would be able to "possess, receive, ship, or transport firearms or ammunition", according to the National Rifle Association's website. "Mental defectives or incompetents" is one of the eleven, yes, only eleven, criteria that prevents you from running out and getting a gun today! Check that, a legal gun. Actually, check all that, Loughner was rejected from the military for having admitted to unlawful drug use, which should have prevented him from purchasing a gun, and he purchased a gun anyway. The bottom line is it is easier to buy a gun than a car. Or you can just buy a Hummer and get an AK47 voucher thrown in as a bonus prize!
I read these stories and I feel sad, but they don't make me feel scared. But being scared seems to be the immediate reaction of a lot of Americans. It really does seem to me that there is something to the study showing that conservatives have a tenancy to be more neurologically prone to fear than liberals.
Maybe if I really believed I would walk outside and be shot dead, I would want a gun with me at all times. But I don't believe that. And there may lie the fundamental difference. But can we really be an entire country, of roughly 3 million people, ruled completely by fear? That seems like a horrible way to live and a horrible place from which to make the serious national and international decisions that we must make as one of the most powerful countries on the planet.
Posted by Camille Koué at 9:22 AM