Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fell on Dark Days

May has been a cruel and barbaric month for Seattle and for my country. Insane atrocities that I refuse to read about have prompted the federal government to announce that there are no such things as zombies. Much closer to home, a place that my oldest son has performed in, a place that he took me to just several weeks ago, became a slaughterhouse when a madman entered it and opened fire. Talent and beauty that this city needed badly was taken away in a day that led to another killing by the same man, with him finally shooting himself on a Seattle neighborhood street in broad daylight.

Many questions arise in the sadness: Why don't we take care of our mentally ill? Why do we let them have access to firearms? Why do we cling to a constitutional amendment that was written for a country that needed guns to kill its own food and faced the possibility of being reabsorbed into the kingdom it fought to leave? Why do we allow the National Rifle Association to dominate all political discourse on this issue? Why has our small city had so many deaths from gunfire in a year that isn't even yet half over?

But then--we have no bombs or grenades going off on our streets, that hideous random violence that efficiently kills more than one or three people at a time. The country I left less than a year ago, the Land of Smiles, the world's favorite playground, has people dying from explosives every day. Because that part of the country has essentially been written off, nobody cares.

My British friends shrug; they went through this in the last century, when the IRA made the English well accustomed to explosives in their daily lives. They survived; so will others now plagued with The Troubles. But the violence of terrorism has a recognizable root and the weapons used aren't legal; guns in this country are. In the state I live in, legislators refused to ban them from public parks--it's legal to carry your firearm to your family picnic. The people killed by gunfire in Seattle died for reasons that are impossible to comprehend--a parent left a loaded gun in a place where children played alone, bullets were fired and struck the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, a man entered a cafe and killed people who were enjoying their coffee.

I grew up in a "gun culture" where people lived a semi-subsistence lifestyle. A moose shot when needed meant the difference between full stomachs and hunger. By the time I was fully adult, I saw caribou being shot for their head and horns alone--Alaska was becoming a land of trophy hunters. It made me sick.

Life taking life, if there is such a thing as sin, this is it. And by making this an action that anyone can take at will, we are complicit. If there's one thing we can do in our lifetimes, can we please make this stop, as much as we possibly can? "Guns don't kill people; people kill people" is fallacious. In America, people with guns kill people. This is what the right to bear arms has led to. It's a right we no longer deserve to have.

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