Friday, December 4, 2015

Guns and the (Dystopian) State

Photo by Casenbina (Getty Images)

If you were to write a dystopian novel that involved a mass shooting every day followed by national leaders calling for thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims, you would have chilling and sobering concept for a literary endeavor. You might have trouble selling such a plot line to a publisher. It might seem just too far-fetched to sustain a believable story – except that we are there now in real life.

I wrote earlier this year in “The Fires of Moloch Are Burning” that our willingness to accept the loss of innocent lives due to gun violence should be as abhorrent to us as the child sacrifices that were offered to the ancient Phoenician god, Moloch.  Instead, for the sake of our “right to bear arms,” we seem to be afraid to pass sensible gun safety legislation. “Our words say that we honor American freedom, while our actions say that we live in fear and have so little regard for our children that we will willingly feed them to our modern day fires of Moloch.” 
Some Sensible Viewpoints

This week, with yet two more mass shootings, there are many sensible viewpoints being expressed while our nation continues to be paralyzed. Nicholas Kristoff recently wrote in The New York Times that “We need a new public health approach based not on eliminating guns (that simply won’t happen in a land awash with 300 million guns) but on reducing the carnage they cause.” He went on to point out that most gun owners are in favor of universal background checks and gun control measures, while the NRA blocks any reasonable measures. (See his full article, "On Guns, We're Not Even Trying")

Photo by Sherwin McGehee
(Getty Images)
One of the responses often heard from the NRA is that more guns in the hands of the "good guys" is the solution to stopping the killings by the "bad guys' with guns.  Joshua Holland, writing for The Nation dispels that idea in his article, "Tactical Experts Destroy the NRA's Heroic Gunslinger Fantasy." The truth is that law enforcement officers go though rigorous training in order to be equipped to respond during a dangerous threat. More citizens with guns would just add to the danger and confusion during any situation where a shooter is involved.

My friend Jane Philips has a blog, Spiritually Speaking. She writes the following on her recent post, Time to Speak Up:

When we aggrandize people who espouse more violence, when we sell our souls to the National Rifle Association, when we block laws that would stop the proliferation of semi-automatic weapons, we are inviting and even complicit in the violence that is killing our children and turning our streets into bullet-ridden rivers of blood.
People of conscience have to become as vocal as those who are ranting about vengeance and hatred.
John Archibald speaks in a similar vein in his op ed piece for the Birmingham News, "To Hell with the NRA; this country has to talk about guns."

To hell with the NRA, which sows fear as a way to make sure as many guns as possible are bought and sold and left lying around. To hell with the NRA. The influence is too great; the rhetoric too wrong. We have to at least be able to talk about the proliferation of guns and the proliferation of dead bodies they tend to leave behind.

I don't have the answers. I don't know how to solve the problems.
But I know that prayers for the victims don't bring them back or stop the next shooter from opening fire. Not that there is anything wrong with prayers, but politicians who offer empty ones one day and easy access to weapons the next need to examine their faith. I know processions lead only to the grave, that gun buybacks are feel-good but futile gestures. And as long as people and politicians are too timid to question the deification of the gun, the more things stay the same.

So far this year, we have had 352 mass shootings  in 334 days (that's more shootings than days). It is time to offer more than “thoughts and prayers.” If we want something better than a dystopian state for our children, we need to hold our leaders accountable.



  1. I was thinking this morning that when the founding fathers wrote the second amendment in 1789, the guns they owned were muskets. I sincerely doubt they had a single thought for the possibility of semi-automatic weapons in the hands of everyday citizens. Jane Philips

    1. Yes. A hand gun and a hunting rifle are reasonable. Stockpiles of semi-automatic assault rifles are not reasonable.

  2. Thanks, Charlie for this great piece. Jane


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