Twenty-seven dead. Twenty of them little kids, who as President Obama said, won’t see their graduations, won’t get a job, won’t get married. Murdered in childhood.
Unthinkable, of course. But the unthinkable all too often becomes the real. As it did in Connecticut recently.
And after our horror subsides, after the tears dry, we throw up our hands and say, “What can we do, what can we do?”
Some, of course, will say, “More police in public places.” Others might say, “More guns.” Still others will say, “More gun control.”
But really, what can we do? The genie is out of the bottle. We are weaponized America. And we have legislators cooking up new ways to become even more weaponized, under the belief that more guns in circulation will make us safer from guns.
As is, there is an estimated 270,000,000 guns privately owned in the U.S., more than one for every adult in the country. This, of course, makes us No. 1 in the world for gun ownership. And that translates into about 10,000 gun murders a year, according to FBI statistics.
And now, we’ve added 27 more.
Let’s be realistic. Thanks to our freedoms, the NRA (National Rifle Association) and its politicians terrified of the NRA’s financial clout, and thanks to the absolutists who defend the ownership of any gun, we can’t suddenly wave our hands and make guns disappear.
Nor do we want to. We believe in gun ownership, for protection and for hunting and for practice. As much as some might like, we shouldn’t go to some draconian method of outlawing guns. It’s wrong and impossible anyhow.
And we can’t — no matter how much we wish — stop the madman intent on murder. That madman always has the element of surprise on his side. Only in retrospect do we usually see the trail of signs indicating his intent. And defenders of guns are right about our culture: We celebrate violence. One only has to look at the video games our boys play incessantly, leaving them obsessed with that world, a world where violence is fine, the way to solve problems. No wonder that we see troubled young men lashing out like they do.
But here’s what I don’t understand: While we can’t solve the gun-related murders, can’t we make it more difficult?
And though I understand that the latest murder spree was done by a killer using handguns, I don’t understand why we allow assault rifles to be a part of weaponized America. I don’t believe they’re necessary. I don’t believe they make people safer. But I do believe they make murder easier.
And why do we allow cop-killer bullets to be sold in our country? There’s a reason for that label, after all. They are only for killing.
And why do we allow the huge magazines to be legal? Why do we need unlimited magazine sizes?
And why do we here in Arizona allow unlimited numbers of gun purchases, knowing full well that our state is the drug cartels’ supermarket for guns? Why do we here in Arizona allow private gun sellers at gun shows to avoid doing background checks on buyers?
Each time we have a tragedy like that in Connecticut, we hear from the absolutists that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
And that, of course, is true.
But weaponized America makes the slaughter so much easier.
It sickens me.
• Mike McClellan is an East Valley resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.