As Paul Farhi in The Washington Post has noted, this country seems to have very quickly moved past the absurd, horrible events of the past week at the Washington Navy Yard. I don’t believe that it is just because I live in the Washington area, or that a relative actually worked in the office where the slaughter occurred, that I feel this nausea over how my fellow countrymen/women have reacted. There has certainly been a decent amount of news coverage, the President has commented on the event, and there have been some thoughts shared by politicians of various stripes. Bu tit feels as if we have come to accept that periodic mass killings are simply a price we must pay for the inability of our citizenry, and our political representatives, to face the sad reality that the US is an excessively and unnecessarily violent nation and to take the kinds of steps that reasonable people of goodwill ANYWHERE (not just in our “exceptional” nation, a sobriquet that I am beginning to believe is an apt one but not for the best of reasons) would take.
Clearly the lack of certain “features” of the killings–no innocent children shot, for example–have helped to dampen the sympathy factor. They were just government contractors at work, unluckily selected by Aaron Alexis–they won the lottery, just not the one they would have wished for. One might guess that somewhere, a member of the Tea Party may even have uttered words suggesting that the loss of a few government workers is not so terrible if it diminishes the per se “too large” federal government, especially if it reaffirms our commitment to the almighty Second Amendment. Most of all, in this country where for too many people, other people’s suffering is of no import if it doesn’t directly impact us or our loved ones, only a limited circle felt the full impact of Alexis’ apparent madness.
Since Newtown, no real progress has ben made in taking meaningful steps to reign in gun ownership in the US. The cowardice of our political leadership to make a full-court press once it became apparent the Republicans would kill any effective legislation is truly detestable, and I include the president in this denunciation. Even now, Sen. Reid has indicated that he does not expect to see any new legislation introduced in the US Senate and that appears to be because he had done the vote-counting…and that is for even laws that, in my view, are of minimal impact. The president sounded tired when he bemoaned the Navy Yard killings, noting how the folks who were killed probably didn’t expect to find that kind of violence in their workplace, and essentially deferring to Congress on the issue. I’ve seen very few quotes from our politicians this week, notable because these are people who eagerly seek their place in the media.
I don’t believe that I am alone in feeling both horrified at the acceptance we as a nation are showing about these killings, and depression over the fact that I am not sure what assertive steps an individual like myself can think of taking with any hope of having an impact on this issue. Joining any of the gun control organizations, while perhaps somewhat of a positive move, doesn’t seem likely to achieve much because those groups have been around for a while and, even with the aid of a Newtown, they don’t seem to have a lot to show for their efforts. Mobilizing politically to seek defeat of politicians who stand in the way of reasonable legislation doesn’t hold out much promise because many of these folks are elected from districts in which gun control is anathema, or even if they represent a more enlightened constituency, seem to be electable despite having done nothing to stem gun violence. Personally, I will continue to seek to identify a means of participation in efforts to control guns in this country that seems to hold some prospect of achieving success. It seems to me that a confluence of phenomena will need to occur in order for legal action to be taken that is anything more than a watered-down, lowest common denominator stab at appeasing a restless majority of people who I am convinced know that we have gone and are continuing to go down the wrong path, idolizing an erroneous interpretation of the 2nd amendment. it will be some combination of horrendous loss of life, an especIally egregious example of someone gaining possession of a gun through normal channels (maybe a Muslim? But then we’d probably just pass legislation singling out certain ethnic groups as being unable to legally own certain types of guns), some kind of bipartisan partnership of respected leaders in Congress (maybe non-Tea party aligned Republicans could sign up?) plus some other magic ingredient. Or when I take the longest range perspective, I think that it is a hopeless cause for the next twenty years but if we start educating our toddlers now, we can raise a generation of Americans who will have the good sense to push for rational changes to how we facilitate the proliferation of guns. Common Core standards for teaching about our country’s history of violence, and about the US Constitution? That will not happen in my lifetime but if we leave education up to the locals, too many of them, like the good folks in TX who are now so upset about the non-Common Core state standards in that state, will slash and burn any good faith efforts. Have to keep searching–for the Full Moon.