Gun Crazy

A recent story is worthy of reflection:

ORTERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — The church bell that rings out to announce the deaths of tribal members on the Tule River Indian Reservation tolled repeatedly after a man went on a shooting rampage that left a daughter, his mother and her two brothers dead. The suspect also died in a shootout with police.

The story is doubly disturbing because the man is a member of a native tribe that has been relegated to the wasteland of this country — like so many Native Americans who were chased from their lands. Typically they end up in trailers in the middle of nowhere dependent on gambling casinos to keep body and soul together. And we wonder why they have drinking and drug problems!

But this man shot members of his family for reasons unknown. And this will go down as simply another mindless shooting that might have been prevented if we had tougher gun laws. I say “might have been.” As critics point out, even with tougher gun laws anyone who really wants one could buy it. “It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people who kill people.” Yadda, Yadda. We’ve heard it all before and it is still nonsense. Guns make it a heck of a lot easier. With tougher gun laws it might be more difficult to purchase them in the first place, and this would be a step in the right direction.

It was reported recently that seven team members of the Kansas City Chiefs voluntarily turned in their guns after the murder/suicide by Jovan Belcher.  Defenders of the second amendment — which protects our right to bear arms only because there was not supposed to be a standing army — insist that this is “not a gun issue.” They say it is a “mental health issue,” or a “domestic violence” issue. Whatever. It does get tiresome. One of the seven Chiefs players turned in eight guns! Tony Dungy said in response to the report on “Football Night In America” that he once asked a room filled with his players how many of them had guns and 75% of the hands in the room went up. Carrying guns is becoming the norm, apparently, and states like Minnesota where I live now have laws allowing people to carry loaded weapons on their person wherever they go. The rationale is “self-defense,” but the notion that more people carrying loaded guns will lower the likelihood of violence is counter-intuitive.

Hannah Arendt told us years ago that violence is largely a result of frustration. The man in the story above must have been under a mountain of frustration. And it is a growing phenomenon in a country with a rising population where resources and money are becoming scarce — and where we have been told since early childhood that we can do anything we want to do and have anything we want to have. If we combine growing frustration with the ready availability of guns the formula is one for what we loosely call “tragedy.” We can expect more of the same until or unless the Congress has courage enough to take on the N.R.A. and pass tougher gun laws. If you believe that will happen I have some farmland in the Everglades I would like to sell you.

7 thoughts on “Gun Crazy

  1. Great post. Bob Costas is getting crap for his comments, yet like you he is dead on accurate, pun intended. Unfortunately, the President won’t make this an issue nor will a GOP led Congress. They both are in the wrong. Thanks for writing this. BTG

  2. Hugh, your comments struck a chord in many of us. I know guys that served who can’t understand how gun violence is so prevalent in the US. How does a person get so angry that they want to kill someone they were in love with 30 minutes ago. If you get angry and you have a knife or a hammer handy, you can do a lot of damage. If you have a .40 cal Smith&Wesson within your grasp … much, much more damage.

  3. “…So you aren’t interested in that farmland?…”

    Injecting a bit of humor into this post gives a much-needed gulp of hope after pondering the psyche of someone with pent-up hostility.
    When one ponders the idyllic image of the long-ago indian life, one can imagine a life free from most stress, where the biggest problem would be food and shelter. remove any species from its rightful environment, and one finds stress and frustration and restlessness. Watch the felines at the zoo pacing back and forth along the fence.. yes, they’ll probably pounce on the first living creature that tries to come between them and freedom from the cage. “Freedom from the Cage” – that, I believe, is the answer to much of the pent-up anger in today’s world.

    i can understand those pent-up emotions of an emotionally-damaged person, and i have known others with hostile personalities (that seem angry at the world) — it’s hard to force someone to get help, especially when help comes with a $cost. they often think that they are right, and most everyone else is wrong. helping others find help is a difficult responsibility, and we need to learn better skills of helping others and not turning away from delicate situations. i’ve stepped in between ‘warring’ personalities more than i cared, but someone needed to neutralize the moment. usually the words, ‘you are better than this,’ seems to be the best retort to the one who seems capable of listening.

    i grew up in a farming/hunting/fishing lifestyle and am/was proud to be able to nail a bulls’ eye as well as land a perfectly-aimed lure into a hard-to-reach area in the shallows of a lake. that culture taught me an incongruent love for nature, where i treasured the flora and fauna while thinking nothing of playing my role as ‘meat provider’ for our winter months. now with a more sensitive heart, i listen to my family’s tales of winter hunting and hope that in time, they too will become more sensitive.

    thank you for allowing me to reflect, and for reminding me of the emotionally-disturbed powder kegs that are like ticking clocks, ready to explode and then leaving baffled survivors behind that ask, ‘how did this happen?’


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