Monday, January 10, 2011

Rise, Lather, Repeat. Gun violence in Arizona.

The more things change the more they stay the same. It has been a while since my first blog post was released into the series of pipes known as the internet. 4/21/07 saw my freshman effort; the subject for discussion was Virginia Tech. As Don Renaldo, the Gipper, would say; here I go again.

What is truly depressing is how the whole incident in Tucson, Arizona just seemed so inevitable. Call me a burnt out boomer, but I’ve seen this movie one too many times.

It was cold November the first time gun violence made its first impression on me. I was barely five. I was an ADHD kid way before it was cool; struggling with the idea of nap time at kindergarten. (Note for the uninformed: ADHD five-year-old boys do not DO nap time.) The image still seared in my mind was of coffin being pulled down Washington D.C. It was on every channel on the T.V. This was the early sixties and broadcast was the only game in town. The coffin contained the body of JFK. This meant that no cartoons were on TV this day; a major issue for a five year old ADHD boy.  To this day I can still see in my memory the image of that flag-draped coffin flickering on my aunt’s T.V. .

Flash forward to 1968. Even for a grade school boy in the splendid isolation that is the New Jersey suburbs it was year of great change. Not the ADHD, that did not change, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Still the isolation of my white-bread, Republican hometown only went so far. Newark, New Jersey was only a few miles up the road, and its Central Ward had been sized with horrible riots the year before. Summer of 1968 brought only more horrors. Martin Luther King was gunned down in April; then in June RFK was also shot and killed.

Flash forward to May of 1972; the voice was changing, but the ADHD remained stubbornly the same. The image  is of a very ordinary shopping center in Laurel, Maryland. A grinning idiot is gunning down George Wallace. I am seriously conflicted. I despised Wallace and everything he stood for, but I was also nauseated that candidate for the highest office in land could be gunned down like a mangy dog in the street.

The insanity did not slack off much from there. A follower of Charles Manson tried to do harm to Jerry Ford. Ford suffered more from his bodyguards then he did from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Fromme was not very well versed in the operations of her weapon of choice, the  .45 colt semi auto pistol.  She was content to wave around a weapon that had an unloaded chamber until law enforcement curtailed her bizarre attempt at performance art. Only seventeen days latter Sara Jane Moore was much more serious in her attempt. Only her unfamiliarity with the newly purchased weapon saved Fords life. The first shot missed because of a built-in six inch error. Her second shot attempt, corrected for the six inch error  of the .38 cal revolver, was scotched by a by-stander’s heroic interference. Thus was Ford’s head and life spared her malicious intent.

But the outer fringes of society  were not done with there attempts to fell the high and mighty. The Gipper, Ronald Reagan, had his term nearly ended by crackpot in 1981. Both Bill Clinton and George W Bush had there White House digs shot at by disturbed individuals who somehow owned high-powered semi-automatic rifles. After that, there were the more ordinary victims of Columbine, Virginia Tech and the D.C. shooter. The theme remained : marginal, “disturbed” individuals given ready access to firearms.

So here we are again, you the reader, and I. I can only look over the incident at Tucson and mutter “ I saw this coming a mile away.” I can say this because I did see this coming a mile away. Call it the curse of ADHD. Like most with the anomaly, I’m great with seeing connections, in seeing the forest, in seeing the great sweep of events; just don’t ask me were I left my car keys.

Don’t get me wrong, please, I’m not rationalizing this awful event. I’m not excusing it. But the indicators were there for all to see. There was the constant toxic drum beat from the usual suspects. Do I really need to list them? Don’t we know where they reside? Don’t we know who feeds them? Don’t we know their talking points by now? Don’t we know their un-artful dodges? Round up the usual suspects at Fox News and points right! Sorry Sister Sara, despite a feeble attempt to scrub your web site of the incriminating evidence, you’re part of the crew.

The second obvious point hiding in plane site is our gun obsessed, gun crazy culture. Statistically speaking every person in this great land owns nine-tenths of a weapon. Realistically this means that everybody who desires a gun has one. Realistically this also means there are no real world limits on who gets to own a device whose only purpose is to seriously maim or kill. Our culture is so far gone that we can’t even propose the notion that maybe, call us silly here, there should be at least some rational limits on gun ownership.

But we all know what a non-starter that conversation is going to be. Our culture is saturated with the myth of the cowboy. Many of us have held on to our weapons much longer than than we have held onto our spouses. We could not even keep the simple, common sense limits of the Brady bill in place. Please spare me the bull-pucky about how you use a civilianized military small arm for hunting. There is no good reason to go after a 10 point buck with an AR-15; not unless you have evidence that Bambi is now packing heat. There is no game out there that requires a spray of 5.56mm ammo to take down; none at all.

Because of our obsession with guns, plus the social and political immaturity that is oppressing us, I don’t see much good coming out of Tucson. We will have our usual Left-Right dust up of no further consequence, and then move on. Sorry gentle reader, what little social graces I have (far too little thanks to the ADHD) are all used up. I’m Darin Downer (Debbie Downer's twin brother) on this matter. We will not learn from this. We will not change. We will not grow up.
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