My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

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Dec 9

The common denominator

Category: Life,Opinions

So, now we know that the killings in San Bernardino weren’t just our sadly typical mass-shooting, the killings were an act of terrorism. Since it was an act of terrorism, we are hearing calls, particularly from the right, and the far far right, to ban Muslims from America, stop immigration, shut down Mosques, the list goes on. These racist arguments are loud, highly visible, they dominate the news cycles. The right screams, “we have to protect America, keep the foreigners out!” While it’s absolutely true that we have to fight terrorism, the war on terror is very real and very serious, the fact remains that the “act of terror” in San Bernardino, at its core, isn’t any different than America’s previous six mass-shootings. There’s a common denominator among these horrible acts of violence, this common denominator is the real problem, the thing that should receive public outrage and media coverage. This common denominator is, legal access to military-grade guns and ammunition for anyone with the inclination to buy them. It’s easier to buy an assault-rifle in America than it is to buy, say, Sudafed (a key ingredient in cooking crystal meth).

The San Bernardino terrorists didn’t have to smuggle in the rifles and handguns they used to murder fourteen people. There was no chatter with Isis about arms delivery that anybody could have intercepted, no international plot to foil. None of that was a possibility. The killing of fourteen people was illegal, but the purchase of the guns used was not. The motivation behind the San Bernardino attack is really a non-issue if you consider the fact that the attack was made fairly easy to accomplish because the guns used were obtained perfectly legally. Assault-rifles, semi-automatic pistols, extended ammo clips, they’re all legal to purchase, in multiple ways. There are the myriad of gun stores where one can buy any number of guns with minimal background checks and minimal waiting periods. If you feel iffy about a background check, or you want your gun right now, you can go to popular weekend gun shows where gun enthusiasts buy, sell, and trade firearms of any kind with no background checks or waiting periods. It’s also totally legal to buy and sell guns online through, for example, Facebook or craigslist, anything from hunting rifles to AK-47s. You can even legally buy a gun right from your next-door neighbor, if they have one or ten and are aiming to sell. It’s so easy to buy guns of any kind, ammunition in any amount, legally.

Whether it’s a terrorist, someone who’s violently mentally ill, or a bullied high-school kid out for revenge, they all have one thing in common; quick, legal access to just about any type of gun and related gear under the sun. Unfortunately, people like Donald Trump are putting political rhetoric ahead of morality, and public safety. Political candidates know that one tried and true way to win an election is to present scared, disheartened voters with an enemy, then promise to protect them from said enemy. Blaming all our security issues on Muslims and immigrants is a political red herring, it’s an irresponsible, dangerous way to literally scare-up votes. It distracts people from the truly dangerous issue; broken, antiquated gun laws that basically roll-out the red carpet for anyone interested in putting a lot of bullets in a lot of people. We’ve had seven mass-shootings in five months, one of which was terror-related. Terrorists are not American’s biggest problem, not by a mile.

Politics isn’t broken, not really. We have power, we can demand common-sense gun laws, we can demand the reinstatement of the long lapsed assault weapons ban. We can let politicians know that if they don’t DO something to limit gun violence, they won’t BE politicians anymore come election time. We, as a nation, need to tell Donald Trump to fuck off. His hateful rhetoric goes against everything our Founding Fathers believed, and all the ideals on which our great nation was built.

President Obama isn’t “coming for your guns,” nobody wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment (Well, I want to, but that’s neither here nor there), but compromises have to be made. Otherwise, the parade of mass-shootings will continue, not because of international terrorist conspiracies, but because in America, it’s way too easy for the mentally ill and those filled with rage to obtain guns that are specifically designed to kill many people in very little time. Guns that no civilian should have at hand.

Until we recognize the true common denominator in all American mass-shootings, blood will be needlessly shed. It’s time to get angry at the real issue, and not politically manufactured shadows.


6 Comments so far

  1. josh December 10th, 2015 12:07 am

    Absolutely. Well said!!

  2. Samuel December 10th, 2015 2:56 am

    Powerful statement: “Whether it’s a terrorist, someone who’s violently mentally ill, or a bullied high-school kid out for revenge, they all have one thing in common; quick, legal access to just about any type of gun and related gear under the sun. “

  3. maria December 10th, 2015 7:45 am

    Great piece of writing. Not sure about repealing the second amendment altogether, i couldn’t agree more about the ease that weapons are obtained. Dangerous for us all. well written!

  4. Carol December 10th, 2015 1:29 pm

    I feel passionately about this issue; just as you do. Guns are the problem, and anybody can get their hands on them. Anybody can kill, no matter what their motive. 355 mass shootings in the past year is 355 too many.

  5. Matt December 10th, 2015 7:13 pm

    What is the root cause of shootings? Is it all about the tool? Not the actor, nor his motives? I realize that public policy is a blunt instrument which can more easily impact firearm availability than it can change motives, reduce hate, etc. That doesn’t mean that we ought to use public policy to “solve” this issue.
    What is a military grade weapon? What is military grade ammo? I could argue that almost everything on the market fits this category. What type of firearm hasn’t been used by the military at one point or another? Any hunting rifle is practically identical to a sniper rifle. Hunting ammo is more lethal than what the military uses, by far. Revolvers were used by the military and police – even in modern times, like the last 50 years. Shotguns are used by the military. Get rid of them too? The military uses non-lethal rounds. So, could a private citizen shot bean-bags from a shotgun to defend himself within his home? I guess not, because both the shotgun and the ammo are military grade.
    What is left for people to use to defend themselves? Pellet guns? 22s? Archery? Or should people just call 911 and hope for the best?
    But if you want to get rid of the 2nd amendment, which was born from the right to self-defense, then who gets disarmed first? Law abiding citizens will probably be the first ones to turn in their weapons. They won’t want to risk going to jail for gun ownership. Then who is left? What is the plan for them?
    Seems like a utopian plan that would be impossible to execute, in my opinion.

  6. michael December 10th, 2015 10:34 pm

    Matt: My little aside about my personal feelings toward the 2nd Amendment isn’t the point. The 2nd Amendment isn’t going anywhere, nobody of relevance in politics is suggesting such. It’ll never be abolished, no matter my wants.

    I think that we ABSOLUTELY need public policy to combat gun violence, particularly mass-shootings. The Federal Government has avoided the issue for way too long, and people have died because of it. There are many issues that are involved in the prevention of mass-shootings; better treatment of mental illness, better opportunities for higher-education, improved economic opportunities, social issues that will take time to fix. The immediate problem is the tool, as you say, the gun. The motives don’t matter, not right now, because all mass-shootings have the same common thread. Somebody really angry or really mentally-ill was able to easily obtain firearms. The motives and the whys are for psychologists to study, they’re the keys to long-term solutions. Long-term solutions won’t stop the bloodshed that’s happening of late, again and again and again, seven mass-shootings in just the past five months.

    We need stricter background checks that REQUIRE psychological evaluation.
    All gun buyers’ finger-prints should be stored in AFIS.
    The gun show and online sales loopholes need closed.
    Private gun sales should require ATF oversight.
    We need a new assault-weapons ban (The Brady Bill was a good idea).

    Military grade gear, such as the following… Civilians should not have M-16s, MP5s, Desert Eagles, or ammo that punches through body armor as easy as a brick of cheese. I didn’t mean gear from WWI.

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