Saturday, December 15, 2012

If Not Now, When?

At some point, Americans are going to have a grown-up conversation about guns and their consequences.

Not the ideological fantasies we have now.

This will not be the He-Man-Hero narrative where lone-wolf individualists keep a big bad government at bay with their 9mm handguns and their illegally-converted automatic rifles.  That sort of B-grade nonsense is what gets you remakes of Red Dawn.  Trust me, if the big bad government really wanted to get you they’d nuke you from orbit and be done with you, and you and your precious little pea-shooters would glow for the rest of eternity together.

Nor, sadly, will it be the Calm Restrained Humanitarian narratives where an enlightened populace decides that, with the whole idea of self-defense with firearms so clearly (and statistically provably) ridiculous whatever the aforementioned He-Man-Hero narrative might mumble into its cheap beer, they should install meaningful regulations on personal firearms the way almost every other civilized nation does.  That hunting and recreational shooting are one thing, but the situation we have now is something entirely else.  But Americans have loudly and clearly denied any interest in such narratives, and that battle is well and truly lost.  There is no point in it anymore.

But somewhere, sometime, there has to be a conversation about what that decision actually means.

My friend Eric made that absolutely clear in a bitingly eloquent post yesterday, entitled The Guns of December, which you should go read now.  I’ll wait.

For me, the money quote from that post was this:

“I want to hear from the other side.  I want to hear someone--preferably a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association--tell me, preferably to my face, not that they want dead children (because that would be a bit much and we all know that isn't true), but they're okay with them.  That they understand that's the price of their convenient access to easy, deregulated weaponry and they're willing to keep paying it.  Keep in mind: I already know this to be true, I just want to fucking hear them telling me the fucking truth for a change.  I want to hear the words slip softly over their lips that they know what they're paying and they're settled with that, their souls rest easy in the hollow basins in their skulls.  That they sleep at night with this because they can.”

Everything has consequences.  Everything you do makes something else happen.  And if we as Americans want easy access to firearms, then we will have more massacres of the innocent.  It’s that simple.

And if that’s what we want, then we ought to have the balls to say it out loud.

Like Eric, I’m tired of the whole gun control argument.  My side lost.  I’m over it.  I don’t want dead children and I’m willing to sacrifice easy access to guns, but I am clearly in the minority and what I want doesn’t matter.  Welcome to democracy, now put on your big boy undies and deal with it.  At this point, like Eric, all I want is for the other side to admit the bargain they made – to publicly and forthrightly state for the record that yes indeed they are willing to pay for their guns with the blood of children.  That they may not like that, that this may not be their ideal world, but it’s the world they have decided – open-eyed – to create and they’re willing to pay that price to keep it.

And I want them to do this now. 

Now, God damn them.

For most of the last 24 hours I have been besieged by people who insist that this is not the time to “get political” in order to discuss the method by which all those children died. 

I find that disgraceful.  I find that immoral.  I find that a cop-out.  I find that a dishonor to the memory of the dead.  And by God I will not agree.

If not now, when? 

When the next massacre happens?  Because as sure as the sun will rise on December 22 regardless of what the Mayans said there will indeed be a next massacre, and I’ll put money on the fact that it will happen before this time next year. 

When the bodies are safely buried and out of sight, so we don’t have to confront what that decision really means?  When we can treat them as statistics and not children, and pretend that it’s all a matter of dispassionate debate, logical assumptions and clever repartee instead of the blood-soaked bargain that it is?


To all of you who think “this is not the time,” when is the time?

At some point, Americans are going to have the grown-up conversation about guns and their consequences that we have because of the decisions that we as a society have made, and it might as well be now.  It would be the moral thing to do.

I won’t hold my breath, though.

1 comment:

tellthestories said...

From tomorrow's sermon:

We cannot fix it with wishful thinking and we cannot fix it with avoidance, and we cannot fix it with mere sentiment, no matter how deeply heart-felt.

We cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long….”

And the answer comes: As long as we pretend that the time is appropriate for mourning but not prevention. As long as we value our guns more than our children. As long as we give assault weapons moral and constitutional equivalency to a colonial-era musket. As long as we slash mental health funding and glorify violence and expect these twin evils to have no consequence.