In the face of another mass shooting, let me me quite clear:
Prayers -- mean nothing.
Candlelight vigils -- mean nothing.
Expressions of community resolve, unity and determination -- mean nothing.
Statements of support from politicians -- mean less than nothing.
Another 10 people dead and 7 wounded at the hands of what appears to be a lonely, disaffected loser in Oregon. I used "loser" advisedly -- not as an insult, but as his apparent self-regard. "How many girlfriends you have had? “0 Never had anyone.” At age 26, he lived with his parents and made less than $25,000 a year. Going nowhere.
We're at the point in this country where we must choose one of three paths:
1) Stay the course. The path we are on -- in which we refuse to grapple with the unabating torrent of mass shootings -- is intolerable. In an atmosphere where every nut, sad sack and crank can get his hands on an arsenal of weapons, we are bound to see another mass shooting every few days. According to the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, "Since the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 142 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week. " That includes 34 where a shooter killed someone other than himself. Expect another senseless shooting next week.
2) Disarm everybody. This is basically the position of gun control advocates. Studies have shown that more guns correlates directly with more gun deaths. The solution? Take guns away from ordinary people, so the Random Rambo has a harder time getting his hands on lethal weapons and armor.
3) Arm everybody. This is the stance of the NRA and the right wing. When Random Rambo saunters into class armed to the teeth, he is met with a bevy of concealed weapons that (in theory) make short work of him.
Do you want my frank opinion? I am gravitating toward option 3. Not because I buy the NRA's fearmongering, but because their fearmongering has terrified the locals so thoroughly that disarming is no longer tenable or realistic. For decades now, the "fear-wing media" has filled the minds of our less-informed citizens with tales of government slave camps, black helicopters, minority uprisings, rapist migrants and jack-booted feds. Weapons and ammunition sales have increased in lock step. And the election of a black man as president only pushed sales higher. Common sense, research and debunking have done little to allay the panic. I can't imagine what event, in the short term, would persuade people to voluntarily give up their firearms. It's a hopeless as wresting a teddy bear from a frightened four-year-old at bedtime.
Are we willing to accept the inevitable and arm up? Are we willing to accept the increase in accidental shootings, suicides and lethal domestic quarrels? Sadly, that may be what it takes to turn us from the path of madness.
The ancient Greeks told the story of mad King Minos of Crete, who mated with a cow who gave birth to a half-bull, half man monster called the Minotaur. Every year, the people of Crete were required to sacrifice 7 young maidens and 7 young men to sate the beast's appetite. And year after year, the people of Crete tearfully complied, sending the best of their children into the labyrinth, the maze that that imprisoned the Minotaur, until they were torn to pieces in its horrid maw. That is, until Theseus, who penetrated the monster's lair, slew the beast and freed the Cretans from their doom.
Are we waiting for our own Theseus to maneuver through the labyrinth of politics, misinformation and illogic to free our own young men and women from death? Or are we, like the people of ancient Crete, resigned to sacrificing them to the devouring Minotaur of mass murder?
One thing I'll say for the Minotaur. He only killed 7 young men and women per year. I wish our monster had such a restrained appetite.