Certainly all sentient, reasonably sane beings were incredibly saddened by the events of December 14th. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool pro-gun advocates must surely have been sickened by that slaughter (though most of their responses were, shall we say, a bit on the insensitive / insensible side). Many felt that this was the horrific watershed event that would finally cause some congressional movement in the direction of passing reasonable measures to diminish the bloodshed. A month after the massacre in Connecticut, the president declared that he was willing to go all out in order to pass broad gun control legislation. At a high-level these steps would involve closing background check loopholes, banning military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, ending the congressionally-mandated freeze on gun violence research, and increasing access to mental health services. The devil is of course always in the details, but the changes proposed are substantive.
It took no time for the NRA and their supporters to come up with a much simpler answer to the gun violence problem: more guns. This ‘solution’ befits their simple world view: there are good guys and there are bad guys and only the gun can make the difference. The mythology of the gun as equalizer was established generations ago, but still lives on in the minds of these advocates. As I wrote in my last two posts, there is little evidence that this will do more than pump more guns into an already volatile stew. With the vast sea of guns already floating about, I would never deny the basic right of an individual to protect their home and loved ones. But nor do I want to live in a society that insists upon armed guards and citizenry everywhere. The imagery of flak-jacketed storm troopers at every intersection of daily life is too frightening on too many levels.
The vast majority of Americans want some change in our gun policies, but we wait and wait, and the carnage continues. President Obama declared “the only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” and he is right. If we grieve and remain merely sad for the lost ones, nothing will change. We cannot just be sad about slaughters, we must get mad. Channeling Howard Beale, we must get “mad as hell and not take it anymore!”
It won’t be easy but nothing of real worth is. We can either turn the page and keep reading from the same script or write another one. We can settle back into complacency only to be jolted at the next massacre or can get mad and stay mad and do SOMETHING.
Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman shot point blank two years ago, and her husband, Mark Kelly, finally got fed up and started their own anti-gun violence super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions. These are not two leftist bomb-throwing radicals trying to ban guns and ruin the American Way. They are both gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters. But they are also mad as hell that nothing has been done to curb the epidemic of gun violence and they are trying to do SOMETHING about it.
My previous posts asked you to look outward and educate yourself, then look inward and ask yourself tough questions. This leads to individual actions based on well-reasoned ethics. These may include writing a letter to your congressperson or crafting an op-ed to your local paper. But consider the voice of one multiplied by the many. Consider getting involved both nationally and on a local level with an anti-gun violence organization. Lend your weight to theirs. Answer the president’s call to demand change.
Don’t just turn that page, write a new book.
As the principal of Clayhaus Photography, Jeff Clay specializes in fine-art landscape, architecture, and travel images. He also does portrait and event photography as a partner in Perfect Light Studios. Finally, with a background in information technology and project management, and as sole proprietor of Clayhaus Consulting, he works with non-profits and small businesses to help implement Internet and social media campaigns. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT with his wife, Bonnie and their three wild and crazy retrievers.