Sunday, March 25, 2018

Let's Hear it for the Kids

Thirty years ago I held a much different position on assault weapon ownership than I do now. Back in the 1980's when I was in my early twenties, my chief desire was to complete my manhood by purchasing some awesome weapon worthy of the action movie heroes of that time. Flush with army enlistment bonus cash, it didn't take me long to fulfilled that idiotic wish. Funny thing, after wasting a nice chunk of change on ammo, I found an assault weapon was a cumbersome possession and rather boring.

The Finnish made Valmet assault rifle I bought in 1986 was eventually sold to finance my purchase of scuba gear sometime around 1990. And while I did retain a live-and-let-live attitude to others still engrossed in their mutated dreams of assault weapon glory, they did so without me hanging around. Still though, my position during the 1990's was that if a person wanted to own an assault weapon my interpretation of the Second Amendment at that time said that was their right.

The various mass shootings that followed didn't really shake my position. The tipping point came from a conversation with an individual who had literally wrapped his entire identity and self worth into the ownership of his various assault weapons. This conversation occurred before the Lord of the Rings movies came out but it was like talking to the creature Gollum. About the only things this person didn't do as we talked was whisper the word “precious” as he intimately stroked his favorite AR. Throwing a little more kindling on my judgmental fire, no, this particular individual never served in the military.

But it was the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school that shook me to my core. Twenty little kids died horrific deaths because a mentally disturbed man, Adam Lanza, was able to get his hands on his mom's AR-15 and other weapons. Excuse me for this thoughtless comment, but I can't decided if that woman, Nancy Lanza, got what she deserved by being her son's first victim that day or that maybe she got off easy by being able to avoid responsibility for the deaths of those kids.

In a testament to the deranged nature of individuals lost to the obscene nature of what has come to be called “gun culture”, it wasn't long after the Sandy Hook shooting that the parents of those dead kids began having to suffer through a grotesque smear campaign. Truly sick individuals, backed by certain pro-gun organizations, began spreading propaganda that the shooting never happened. That Sandy Hook was a “false flag” operation whose goal was to take the Precious from all those people who believed that evil Federal government commies were on the verge of imposing a tyrannical regime.

After what seems like an endless string of mass shootings, these same pro-gun organizations have cowed nearly all our elected leaders from taking even the smallest steps to avoid these massacres. They propose we turn our schools into prisons and our society into their fantasy version of the old wild west or life on the frontier in colonial America. What I find extremely funny, in my usual dark sense of humor is that when I owned my Valmet assault rifle, most people looked at me like I was crazy for possessing such a monstrous white elephant. Now, gun manufacturers and the culture in general have promoted those weapons to the point they are now accepted as something akin to normal for civilians to own.

This is where I make my ubiquitous statement that unlike most of the chickenhawks and armchair general whining about liberals like me, I spent a total of twenty-one years serving in the active army and National Guard. So anyone upset with my position really needs to kiss my pale white ass. The alternative being that such individuals who absolutely love guns find some courage and go to the nearest Armed Forced recruiting office. And if you have served but still feel an unhealthy affinity for weapons that are designed to shred human tissue more than outright kill, seek counseling. 

The situation might be a little different now since the shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School. The kids that survived that massacre have found their voice and appear to have started a movement that will not be scared into silence by the even the Big Boy of the pro-gun group. Personally, I do not hold any real idea that the Stoneman Douglas kids can make a huge difference. If the murder of twenty kids between six and seven years old didn't shock the American public and the politicians into action, I have a hard time seeing how the deaths of teenagers will be any different.

Where things could be different this time is if the Stoneman Douglas kids can truly mobilize their contemporaries to vote while shaming their elders into action. I saw several of the Stoneman Douglas kids speak on television yesterday. They are articulate and clearly driven by the justice of their cause. That in itself isn't much to go on, but enough to have me entertain a small spark of hope.


Harry Hamid said...

I read a story the other day about how a large bank (Citibank?) has implemented a policy wherein they won't do business with businesses who sell to people under 21. So it seems that, like with gay marriage a few years back, corporate America of all things ihas taken a more forward-thinking position than Washington.

Things are so bad here that we have to rely on corporations for social change!

My life has been spent in Texas and Nebraska, two redder-than-red states (at one point, Nebraska was the only state where W had a positive approval rating). No one ever had a shotgun in the back window when I went to school (despite what I read on facebook constantly), and no one was out hunting before school in the mornings.

Also, I always knew more progressive-minded people. Red staters are living on borrowed time if they believe that every state isn't purple.

I am close with 5 Fox News-style conservatives here in texas, and two of them have died in the past month. So I'm skeptical of the kids' ability to make a short-term difference, but long-term? I have some hope.

Pixel Peeper said...

I don't know what was different about this shooting at Stoneman Douglas, but I get the impression that with these kids, something has turned. Maybe we're on the path in the right direction. I hope!

Beach Bum said...

Things are so bad here that we have to rely on corporations for social change!
Harry: You've read enough of my rants to understand I am far from religious. But I still get amazed that the Catholic church has a better understanding of the dangers of climate change and science in general than the vast majority of republican politicians.

I truly hope you're right about how red states could flip to purple.

Pixel: Going on what both you and Harry mentioned about doubts as to whether the Stoneman kids can make a difference, like I wrote in the post I feel the same way. That being said, the crazy NRA spokeswoman is uncharacteristically defensive in her response to the March for Our Lives speeches.

I guess it all boils down to whether these kids get out and vote not just in the midterms but in 2020 and beyond.

Teresa said...

Truly WELL SAID !!