SANTA CRUZ, January 20, 2014 — Earlier this week, a man was shot to death inside a Florida movie theater after an altercation over texting during the film. Despite how inconsiderate and selfish it is to use one’s phone during a movie, nobody ought to be shot to death over it.
The incident illustrates a national epidemic of gun violence, long overdue for a serious, countrywide discussion. The fact that you are an inconsiderate moron if you pull out your phone for any reason in a theater once the film has begun should get you removed from the establishment, not murdered.
The NRA and libertarians enjoy pontificating about Americans’ right to bear arms, guaranteed in the second amendment of the constitution. They hold it close to their hearts as a cherished liberty. Many point to a fairy tale world wherein evil doers are forever lurking outside their homes, waiting for the chance to steal their riding mowers and DVRs full of Homey Boo Boo reruns.
These Americans are ruled by a curious paranoia, one which humans are not born with, but rather taught through flawed parenting combined with a steady diet of right wing media hysteria. Christian fundamentalists have recreated a zeitgeist of mistrust, fear, and veiled bigotry. In this fantasy world of manufactured evil, Americans are urged to arm themselves to protect themselves and their families. Before long, people are seeing enemies everywhere, including, apparently, at the local cinema.
While it would be naive to believe that we live in a world devoid of danger, these right wing alarmists have taken normal human caution, or street smarts, and morphed them into a psychotic culture which would cause the most out of touch survivalist cringe.
American homes are now filled with weapons and ammunition, often within reach of children, which serve no purpose other than to heighten the danger that someone will die or be seriously hurt as the result of an accident.
Over 100,000 people are shot every year in the United Sates. This breaks down to around 289 per day. Between 2000 and 2010, more Americans died from guns in the U.S. than the entire populations of St. Louis, Mo, Pittsburgh, PA or Newark, NJ. The death toll from the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in 2012 is equaled or surpassed every three days in America.
The statistics can become a blur, numbing the reader to the tragic realities of America’s insane love affair with guns. Whatever symbolic steps the country is taking to improve things, they are clearly deficient.
While paranoid fantasies of home defense are a favorite tactic of the NRA and pro-gun lobby, there are countless others who believe gun ownership makes them a sportsman (or woman). Massive companies like Bass Pro Shops spend money to promote the idyllic myth of weapons and ammunition as a proud, American way to bond as a family. Children are taught that the systematic murder of innocent animals is a positive endeavor, an adventurous chapter in one’s coming of age, and a centerpiece of American adulthood.
It is time to call hunting exactly what it is: bullying with firearms. Shooting innocent animals does not make anyone a sportsman. Teaching one’s son or daughter how to do so does not make one a good parent. Even if one has the intestinal fortitude to skin, cook and eat what they have have murdered, humans have not had to depend on eating animas for thousands of years. How can one explain to their child that animal cruelty is wrong, or teach them about compassion, only to celebrate as victorious the slaughter or maiming of an animal which is no different than the family cat or dog.
Libertarians and gun advocates would have us believe we need guns to defend ourselves against a devious, tyrannical government, one bent on curbing our freedoms and liberties. In fact, it is Americans themselves, inexplicably obsessed with guns and their surrounding culture, who pose a greater threat to national safety and stability than anyone sitting in the oval office.
Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.