Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

Whether it was an outside initiated referendum or homegrown, Maine’s recent attempt at gun control legislation was shot down at the ballot box. A majority of Mainers clearly love guns. Gone for the most part are bumper stickers defiantly proclaiming a vehicle’s protection by Smith and Wesson and the routine sight of loaded gun racks accessorizing truck cabs, but gun enthusiasm statewide still runs deep. Maybe it’s Mainers’ newly gained freedom to carry a concealed weapon without a permit that’s subdued what used to be far more overt support for a gun culture.

Maybe it’s because Obama never actually took away anyone’s ability to purchase unlimited ammunition and the NRA now has a very kindred, very white guy in the White House. Maybe it’s because Second Amendment rights are doing just fine even if the death toll for those freedoms continues to climb. Many apparently find that a price worth paying for the sense of security gun ownership purportedly provides against their own fears of victim hood. Gun violence continues setting new records of once unimaginable mayhem, yet American life goes on and gun sales still escalate while Big government’s “intrusive” oversight is systematically dismantled.

Just about everyone in America likely knows more about the latest spectacular gun tragedy than I do. This time around I opted out on the frustration and impotence of so much grieving and fear once again exploited by the media and can-kicked by those entrusted with but incapable of producing a political solution. News coverage sensationalizes the surreal terror. The usual cliches as to cause or prevention are trotted out. Arguments for 2nd Amendment freedoms are made once again. Everyone ineptly tries to make the boogeyman of randomness go away while weathering 24/7 revenue-driven “dedicated” media reportage until we can finally return to our normal lives, however briefly, before the next undeterred incident of 2nd Amendment enabled insanity occurs.

I don’t do Facebook but my increasingly outlier online life immediately filled with rote outcries by contribution seeking petitions against the shameless laxity of our nation’s control of guns. Outside social media, in old school socialization with local citizenry, Las Vegas never came up. Not once. Perplexed or appreciative commentary on our freakishly warm weather ruled.

So it goes. Increasingly numbing, each unprecedented level of gun violence only begs some other disturbed person to surpass its record. We accept that inevitability, resigned that we’re unable to defy a powerful clique that allows it to continue.

The only sure way to end gun violence is to end violence or the availability of guns. That either is likely to happen, here in America and anytime soon, isn’t something on which I place much hope.

Even religion can’t get fully behind the first of those possibilities. Much of the Bible is the history of God’s wrathful devastation and a Holy Land created through violent worship. So much so that the main difference between its two Testaments, that of turning a cheek versus an eye for an eye, remains essentially lost to much of the faithful. Violence is A-OK if serving the Almighty.

In American politics hatred has become the weapon of choice. Demonization is considered an acceptable partisan practice. Lines are drawn not in sand but in perpetuity. Consensus is viewed as capitulation. Despite strong party differences on the issue of gun rights, politics today has fewer and fewer qualms about militarism as a means of furthering and protecting America’s interests. Violence is as American as “the shot heard round the world.” Despite North Korea’s recklessly apocalyptic provocations, we remain the only nation that has ever actually employed the immoral horror of nuclear weapons. Though we find ourselves in nonstop armed conflict around the planet, we still envision ourselves primarily as peacemakers in a perceived “holy war” against enemies armed with weapons of our own manufacture.

Nobody has as many guns as America boasts or anywhere near the military might, yet all that rationalized defense does little to deter attacks. Our enemies on 911 brought America to its knees using four unarmed aircraft and some box-cutters. Lone gunmen, predominantly white, never female, again and again horrifyingly underscore the futility of 2nd Amendment extremist positions in protecting against the exercise of pure evil.

Violence begets violence and more guns begets more guns. Money is the root of all evil and money is no stranger to the gun lobby’s ties to gun manufacturing’s primary motivation.

Money is America’s cultural bottom line. Guns and their violence comprise most of our media entertainment. Violence is the primary resolution of most storylines. As the expression goes, in trying to get one’s head around why so little has been done to resolve the escalation of gun violence: “Follow the money.”

Gun violence outcomes can be mitigated by reducing the ultra-deadly prowess of some types of weapons. Unfortunately, even if all guns were outlawed tomorrow, all sales forbidden, all manufacturing curtailed, there are more than enough already in existence to enable heinously insane massacres.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Fine. The question is: “Does America really want to continue excelling at that?”

Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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