Of course we can’t even talk about limiting gun ownership now. . .

because that would just be exploiting a tragedy.

Freedom isn’t free.  A pile of dead kindergarteners is the price of our liberty.  And we’d all be much safer if those children had been armed and had been able to shoot back.

27 thoughts on “Of course we can’t even talk about limiting gun ownership now. . .

  1. If exploiting a tragedy is what it takes to prevent the next one, I’m willing to exploit … Was in meetings all morning and this is the first I’m hearing of it. So sad! Freedom only seems free to those whose freedom has never been seriously challenged, obstructed, denied, or shot senselessly dead.


  2. I am sure that hardcore keyboard commando right-wing gun-nut scum are already one-hand-typing their posts about how if only all the kindergarten teachers were packing heat, someone would have “taken out” the shooter.


  3. Twenty children are dead, the media will spend the next 48 hours (at least) discussing it ad nauseum and absolutely nothing will change regarding gun control.


  4. Part of what inspired this post was the announcement last night that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that he thought we should have a discussion about guns & the possibility of gun control. (Remember, he was one of the people last summer after the mass murder in Aurora, CO who insisted that different gun laws probably wouldn’t have made a difference in that case and specifically deflected the suggestion that maybe it was time to talk.)

    Oh, yeah: We also learned this morning that Colorado is a very well armed state, although our concealed carry permitting process is exceedlingly lax!


  5. I’m simply not a fast enough decision-maker to make appropriate or effective use of a gun, even in situations where it might be entirely appropriate for me to use one. I hope I’d react fairly quickly to protect my students in other ways (an easier decision to make, since it doesn’t involve using lethal force), but I’d never put myself in a position where I was required or expected to carry a weapon.

    I suspect the same may be true of many other (though not all) academics; thinking long and deeply is probably a greater strength for many of us.

    And yes, I’d far rather be protected by limiting the availability of guns and/or ammunition than rely on wielding a gun myself (or, heaven forfend, having random, minimally- or untrained students wielding one). Unfortunately, given the ubiquity of guns in the U.S., I suspect it would take a long time for such limits to have much practical effect. But if limits stopped even one shooting of this sort a year (plus a few suicides, accidental shootings by kids finding the family gun, and/or cases where someone’s own gun is turned on hir) that would be a step in the right direction.


  6. I don’t think that gun control will prevent every mass shooting. But then, I don’t think that vaccination prevents all theoretically preventable diseases. We also have to wash our hands regularly, and engage in self-quarantining when we have a fever. But if all of us do these things, we can prevent as many potentially fatal illnesses among our community members who can’t get vaccinated and/or who are immune compromised.

    Gun violence should be treated as the public health menace that it is. It is of course something that will require a multi-disciplinary, multi-pronged approach. So when people argue that we shouldn’t try sensible gun control because that alone can never prevent every senseless mass murder, I want to murder them myself. This is the equivalent to arguing that because vaccination can’t possibly prevent every infection, none of us should bother. Or because mosquito nets might have holes in them, that we shouldn’t distribute them to people who live in regions that harbor malaria.

    This is what we get for doing nothing (except the Clinton-era assault weapons ban, which expired nearly a decade ago): a pile of dead kindergarteners. I can’t help but grieve for these families, not just because of the unforgivable theft of their children’s lives, but also for the more immediate revolting task they all have before them tonight: five- and six-year olds don’t carry IDs, so their mothers and fathers will have to identify their bodies. I can’t stop thinking about that.


  7. [tinfoil hat]

    I wouldn’t put it past those in favor of rights only for the One Percent, to encourage the dissolution of mental health resources and gun control enforcement, to create so many mass murders that their gated communities with private armies becomes desirable for anyone who can afford it — which means kowtowing to them, in the name of safety.

    or, it could be simple destabilization — the same way the Feds allowed cheap guns to be sold to gangs, to destabilize entire neighborhoods.

    And the day they let teachers carry guns in the schools will be the day after the last teacher union is dead — no sense taking the risk that they could show up at a statehouse union rally with them.

    [/tinfoil hat]


  8. And, I only have one word for the Hick. Coward.

    From unquestioningly backing fracking to not asking, at the bare minimum, for as strict an enforcement of gun laws as he wanted for Federal marijuana laws, he’s been led along by dreams of higher office, when he’s not making the hard decisions to earn his keep at the job he’s got.


  9. Yah–no wonder his wife dumped him, mid-term! John “no nutz” Hickenlooper. Maybe he’s auditioning for the role of “inoffensive unattached extra male” at your next dinner party? It’s kind of hard to figure.


  10. I’ve been obsessed all day with this, as I used to live quite close to Newtown and it feels like local news. But, as I said to my students (captive audience) one of the things they might want to think about in light of our semester was the ways in which legal change resulted not from abstract thinking, but from concrete historical conflicts or problems…


  11. As for Connecticut’s own challenge concerning gun legislation, it’s a company town — so the tell will be a marked drift toward sentiment, and a “nothing can be done” stance that emphasizes the (of course, non-malign) God-linked tragedy frame over the concrete proximate causes that government can address (and has addressed) in the past.

    Of course, some parent will think of suing, but every family skeleton will be dragged out and laid bare if the lawsuit isn’t privately settled — and it will be the school system, not any gun manufacturer, that will pay.

    And, Newtown will install metal detectors in the schools, and approve more concealed carry permits. And fathers and sons will kill their female family members, then themselves, and it will be part of the background noise, with absolutely no relation to other mass murders.

    I am thisclose to proposing a Kill Yourself First national PR campaign (Thinking of murder, then suicide? Be patriotic, and *get the order right*). It would be denounced for advocating suicide, but is suicide less honorable and merciful than insisting on taking others with you, in an apparent campaign to pick the youngest and most numerous targets?

    It’s like an anti-rape campaign that tells men, “Don’t Rape!” instead of “watch where you go / how you drink / how you dress”. Again, the burden is on every potential victim to get out of the line of fire, rather than removing a side out of the Men –> Gun –> Crazee fire triangle.

    We may have governmental apathy at the global warming contribution to constant wildfires, but at least states and the Feds try to fight the fires themselves. Concerning the prevalence of mass murder through male gun violence, they don’t even break out the tanker planes….


  12. Yesterday, when I heard the news I was grading final exams at work. We had just finished hosting a graduation party for our students. It was great to see these proud parents and grand parents basking in the glow of the accomplishments of their young men and women. Now there are parents who will never have that.

    After I heard and read about the shooting, it was hard for me to wait another 45 minutes, until our scheduled pick up time for our daughter at daycare. All I could think about was how for the next twenty years I will be dropping her off at daycare or school and (fingers crossed) driving her off to her freshman year in college. And basically I am going to spend those two decades wondering if she is going to be gunned down in the one of the two places where she should be safe.

    What the hell is wrong with this country?


  13. Matt asks, What the hell is wrong with this country?

    From my perspective, what’s wrong with this country is the fact that gun ownership has for 400 years been claimed as a privilege of white manhood. Overwhelmingly, it’s white men who believe they are entitled to use guns in these acts of terrible violence.

    Obvs., a problem as culturally and historically deep-seated as this one will be difficult to solve. But Americans have done it before–anti-drunk driving and anti-smoking campaigns point the way to important shifts in public health policy & outcomes.

    I had a private email from Indyanna, who I hope won’t mind that I share the nut of it (with similarities to the points cgeye raises too) here:

    I’ve never believed the country couldn’t be (or shouldn’t be) disarmed, by the application of what would inevitably be a very significant amount of force, and with significant but hopefully temporary harm to rights. But really, 3000 financiers dead in New York and everyone is willing to go barefoot in airports and walk through metal detectors everywhere, but you can attack kids in a school and all you can do is
    have vigils?!? As with the destruction of the slave power, the uprooting or steamrollering of some parts of the polity at the behest and for the sake of others is just a part of the course of empire some of the time. I don’t think the armed part of the populace would make very good Chechnyans, and even the Chechnyans didn’t last too long.

    Indeed. Maybe this year’s election results will put white manhood’s political mojo into a more reasonable perspective. However many guns white men have, they still only have one vote apiece.


  14. Historiann, Thanks for reminding me about the elephant in the room. I hope you are right about this year’s election. The gun nuts are not the majority and haven’t been for a long time. They only win because the can straddle the choke points in our political system. So we have to keep pushing.

    I hope its not going to take a Chechenya to sort this out.


  15. The political problem is that certain gun owners (not even a majority of them) care much, much more about this issue, and although they are a minority of voters in this country, they’re still much more numerous than family members of victims of gun violence. Many people will be moved now and for the next few weeks by the events in Newton, Conn., but for how long can politicians count on their support, versus the vigorous, one-issue-voter kind of support offered by the gun nuts?

    (And let’s not even get into the money that can be mobilized against pols who differ even a smidge from the NRA’s party line.) Maybe what MAIG & the Brady Campaign, etc. should do is start a SuperPAC and start raising some serious coin in order to support pro-gun control politicians.


  16. I think there are two issues here, one is the public health issue of gun availability and the other is the cultural issue of masculinity/strength defined as violent behavior. These two collide in events as in OR and CT this week but the straight up public health risk of family violence, economic/turf violence, etc. turned deadly takes an even higher toll.

    The whole thing makes me sick. Of course, all damage inflicted by the US strength-through-violence culture makes me sick. I was encouraged to see the President clearly emotional about the events of this week and to hear him connect together the headline-grabbing spectacle with more mundane gun violence. I wish he felt the same about the violence of his drone policy.


  17. But Dr. H — if they’ve got the bullets, they can legitimately claim, with the force of our history behind them, that anyone else’s vote can be made irrelevant. And who do you think contributes to each election? The NRA’s just like tne new Klan — they need to exist so we despise their politics, while the people they actually serve conduct their business without comment. The same gun models that kill children here will kill terrorist targets overseas, because it’s a secular sin to stop the arms business.

    And hacking voting machines is so high-tech, compared to firebombing a home, or simply letting other criminals pin neighborhoods down until a group of protected renegades get what they want. It’s the ur-story of the A-Team, the lonesome Western rider with a six-shooter and long-gun, or heroic bank robbers and gangsters: If you don’t have a gun, or are protected by those brutal white male experts with it, you are nothing. Truly, if American TV had to de-program its networks every week a mass violence event occurred, they’d go dark.

    To be blunt, Negroes had the vote, impotently, for a century, and it only took a periodic lynching to keep them in line. And, as always, women’s influence in the public sphere could easily be controlled by the head of household’s fist. That’s why elections at this point serve as window dressing for ruling class intentions — they won’t become more unless the populace becomes more of a threat than lobbyists’ bosses.


  18. (and, yes, I know the progress for black and female civil rights was a lot more complicated, but day by day, that’s all it took: Some white man, somewhere, with a gun pointed at someone you love.)

    In my personal countermyth, part of the reason both second-wave feminism and emancipation worked was WWII arming both women and blacks — with guns they took *home*. Being trained to see yourself as a vital part of society in its defense — even if you never fired a shot in anger — counterprograms one against prejudice. The post-WWII fracturing of the polis (which started with HUAC, in my countermyth…) had the primary goal of dismantling the New Deal, but if it could also undo momentum for further human rights initiatives, it was a bonus to the real enemies of democracy — profiteers, modern slavers, and their bootlicking capitalist lackeys.


  19. At least the parents didn’t have to identify their own children’s bodies. From a report at ABC:

    The names of the children slain Friday in the school were released today.

    To carry out the identifications, [Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne] Carver [II] said they “did not bring the families and the bodies into contact.” He said the identifications were made through photographs of the children’s faces.

    “It’s easier on the families,” he said.


  20. I use the Second Amendment as an example of how fuzzy thinking leads to unclear writing, and to all kinds of confusion and grief. My students seem to really get it when they try to figure out exactly what the 2nd A says. (It’s far from transparent.)

    How much political and social turmoil would we have been spared if the so-called “Founding Fathers” had been bothered to write that one up as clearly as the First or the Fourth Amendments?


  21. Pingback: Wrung out. | Historiann

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