Time to show some backbone on gun control!

Another summer, another mass shooting of innocent civilians.

Another round of media feeding frenzy on the tragedy, another collective outpouring of sympathy and outrage from the public, another set of poses and postures from politicians for and against increased regulation of weapons in this country.

It’s gotten to be so predictable, it’s hard to get that engaged, although of course one has to pause and reflect on the horror of being mowed down in one’s seat in a suburban movie theater.

The truth is, it’s amazing that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often in America.

After all, we are the largest gun manufacturer in the world.  We’re also the largest producer of violent entertainment in the world, from BATMAN to video games to pornography.

Barring countries actively engaged in civil war—Syria, anyone?  Israel/Palestine? Congo?—we sport the most heavily armed civilian population in the world.

As the pundits have been saying repeatedly all day, states like Colorado have no regulation at all over who can buy assault weapons.  Any Joe can walk in to a gunshop and walk out with an AK-47, no questions asked.

With policies like that, is it any wonder lethal weapons end up in the hands of loonies and psychopaths?

Everyone knows what needs to be done: we need to make it much harder to obtain weapons, especially assault weapons.

After all, we don’t let kids get into cars and drive them without training and licensing, because we know cars can be easily turned into lethal weapons.

But actual guns, whose sole purpose is killing, we sell over the counter without screening or comment.

Back in the 1980s, it took a coalition of furious mothers to start the movement that eventually led to much stricter punishments for driving drunk, as well as greatly improved education for teens on the dangers of drunk driving.

Remember MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving?

Candy Lightner, founder of MADD

Those grieving mothers had lost their children to our nation’s lax drunk driving enforcement, coupled with a permissive, boys-will-be-boys culture, and they weren’t going to take their personal tragedies lying down.

Neither should we.

I want to see rallies in every state capital, demanding gun control legislation effective immediately!

I want to see Gabrielle Giffords at the head of a march on Washington, insisting that our nation’s leaders do more than put the flags at half-mast and shed some crocodile tears over the loss of innocent lives today.

Gabrielle Giffords


Gabrielle Giffords after being shot in the head

I want our society to show some backbone!

Not just on this issue, but on all the difficult issues that face us nationally and internationally today.

Enough sitting back and waiting for the next tragedy to strike.  Time to put down the remote, get off the couch, and get down to the business of making ourselves a better world.

Leave a comment


  1. leavergirl

     /  July 20, 2012

    Huh? A friend of mine wanted to get a handgun and had to go through all kinds of paperwork here in Colorado, and go to classes for about 6 months… where do you get anyone can buy’em?

    Flailing at weapons is pointless. Just like flailing at “drugs” is pointless. You want people to grow up pro-social and sane? It can be done, but not by a flurry of posturing and slapping more rules on the books…

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 20, 2012

      I agree that people are the problem, not the guns themselves. But stricter laws would help. According to this website, the gun controls in CO are pretty flimsy, as in many many states: http://www.coloradoceasefire.org/

      How hard can it be to just say no to civilian use of assault weapons? Of course, I’d like to get rid of them altogether, but AT LEAST in the civilian population–

  2. Jennifer, I’m terribly sorry this happened. Other than you, do you think commentators will note the connection between the sick BATMAN series (sadism in costumes for child mind warping) and this death-dealing?

    The thing that’s doing my head in is this, why do your lawmakers cave into sectors of society that have not only lost their minds and their morals- if they ever had these?, but who even lack the basic biological imperative to protect themselves and their young? America seems determined to slowly destroy her children through ag poison and other pollutants, or through a gun culture that sees kids picked off in batches at schools – or incidentally in cinemas – or to just wipe them out, in the most far-reaching genocide she ever perpetrated. She largely instigated AGW and now, in full knowledge she’s dragging frightened kids worldwide into wholesale hunger, disease and violence and leaving them with no-where to flee for safety.

    So please, yes, show some backbone!

    I note, of course, that many other countries are culpable, and mine is up there.

    So who are all these people in the world who have lost their humanity to their own children? Where did they come from?

    IMO, the most despicable is the intelligentsia, who best understands what’s going down, and exhorts within its fraternity to abrogate all responsibility. For them, there’s nothing left that can be attempted other than superciliously critiquing “the spectacle” (with all the apparent compassion and love they might muster in reading a review of bloody BATMAN).

    Oh well.

    Hey, here are some good people; http://simplicitycollective.com/what-is-a-transition-town 🙂

    Okay, I’m taking a break from the computer. As you can hear I’m losing the battle I have with PTSD, and this ranting at others doesn’t help, I know.

    It’s probably projected guilt!!

    I wish you all the best Jennifer.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 20, 2012

      You’re right, Angie, it’s just incredible how destructive we are being of our own culture/civilization, starting with our precious children. I was talking with a friend today and the metaphor of the Biblical Flood came to us both–as if that is what is needed, to just wipe the slate clean. It may very well be coming, like it or not. My instinct is to head for higher ground, and build community…like Transition Towns, precisely. For now I am biding my time, hoping I will know intuitively when is the right time to move….

    • Thank you Angie, I only want to tell that I carefully read all your comments and completely agree with them and that I’m glad to have you active in this circle of Jennifer’s readers.

      Your emotional outbursts are very refreshing 🙂

  3. There is absolutely NO argument to be made for selling assault weapons to anyone in any place at any time. Not even those who hunt, not even those who believe in being armed for “self protection,” carry around large killing machines that spew hundreds of shots in less than a minute. Not in a country not yet engaged in civil war.
    The gun lobby, like the banking lobby and pesticide lobby or the health insurance and pharmaceuticals lobbies, have succeeded in creating a society that puts profit above human life. Those lawmakers who refuse to see that we are heating our planet to death, ultimately are driven by the same motive. We can talk about this any way we like. This is the bottom line.
    Until we are able to effect real change in this country–change that puts life above greed–we will continue to endure these tragedies in which 71 people are shot in a theater or millions are denied health care or tens of thousands contract fatal illnesses from ingesting unclean foods or being subjected to toxic waste or breathing polluted air.
    On July 20, 2012 another young man had a psychotic break or otherwise evidenced a dangerous mental imbalance. He managed to cause horrendous heartbreak and give the corporate media yet another reason to ignore the rest of the world’s news for a few days. I am filled with grief for the victims, but am not shocked by the perpetrator’s act.
    What shocks me every minute of every day is that a nation with such intelligence and beauty can have degenerated to the point where WE DO NOT HAVE THE WILL TO RETRIEVE THE HUMAN VALUES WE SO FREQUENTLY EXALT.

  4. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  July 21, 2012

    You are so right, Margaret! I thought of the MADD movement because it’s an example of one grieving mother standing up and rallying others around her to insist that the policymakers act on the values they claim to honor.

    Cindy Sheehan is another who tried to channel her grief this way, though taking on the US military has to be one of the hardest acts, as I found out myself when I dared to suggest they might share Memorial Day with some other deserving folks.

    What will it take to set the spark of a real anti-violence movement? I will be at the annual conference of the Association for Peace & Justice Studies this year, and I am certainly going to be looking for some answers….

    • Thank you for mentioning Cindy Sheehan. I already thought of suggesting that you visit her soapbox http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com.

      I realize that you cater for a more traditional audience and that you have to be extremely careful with formulations and conclusions. I don’t have to make such compromises on my blog because I never will be confronted with your kind of audience.

      Nevertheless you have to be aware that careful and pleasant formulations may be ineffective and amount to not more than collective hand-wringing.

      We had this discussion here already once and I mentioned then in a comment increasing firearms sales and the fact, that the USA is the most militarized society on the planet. Nothing has changed since then and nothing will change alone by blogposts, as inspiring and comforting they may be.

      But I love your last paragraph: “Enough sitting back and waiting for the next tragedy to strike. Time to put down the remote, get off the couch, and get down to the business of making ourselves a better world.”

      Time to change our lives and spend our waking hours with gardening, craft, art, planning, inventing, organizing, instead of watching TV or the computer screen, time to adjust or even radically change our daily procedures to minimize our carbon footprint, time to stop consumerism (stop shopping), time to decry the political theater for what it really is (you know my opinion about Obama), time to fiercely oppose the imperial conquests of the West.

      • leavergirl

         /  July 21, 2012

        I dunno. I think that maybe all those weapons sitting in people’s basements is the last bastion against the encroachments of the Homeland Orwellianism. If laws are passed, the criminal minded will still find those weapons if they want them… or make bombs out of fertilizer. I think folks here are approaching it from the wrong end of the stick.

        We have had, for many years now, a society that rewards — and rewards highly — the aggressive, the predatory, the ruthless. Many of these people are tolerated, even celebrated at the highest levels. When they destroy lives or people’s economic existences, ho hum, it’s a news item and then it goes away, business as usual. Compared to the vast damage they do, this young man is a piker. He’ll be in jail for the rest of his life. They never will. That’s what needs fixing.

      • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

         /  July 21, 2012

        You’re right, leavergirl. The real criminals go free while the small fry rot in jail. And we have a lot of those small fry–the biggest incarceration system on the planet.

        Mato, I don’t want to just indulge in collective handwringing here. I hope to be one of a chorus of voices sparking a real political movement for change.

        But sometimes it does seem like I can only tend to my own backyard–my children, my garden, my own carbon footprint–and do the best I can. Sometimes I just get too frustrated to keep banging my head against the proverbial wall.

  5. Martin Lack

     /  July 21, 2012

    Very brave of you to tackle this topic, Jennifer. The refusal of both Obama (and not so surprisingly) Romney to raise this issue speaks volumes.

    With the greatest of respect, the USA has got itself in a hole with regard to Gun Control and Capital Punishment – which diminishes the influence it might otherwise have over civil and human rights issues in less-attractive countries in the World – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (and everywhere in between).

    Sadly, I think the USA’s position (or at least that in the majority of States) with regard to both issues is an artefact of the uncharitable and uncompassionate Libertarian/Meritocratic hegemony that bequeaths to so many the right to an unpleasant death.

  6. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  July 21, 2012

    You don’t have to qualify your critique of US militarism and violence with respect for my benefit, Martin. I am deeply ashamed to be complicit in this scenario through my citizenship. As a US citizen, I try to uphold the best founding values of my country, and to change the rest. At least we do have one thing so far in the US, for the most part: freedom of speech, freedom to criticize our government, freedom to protest. I know all that has often come into question for people who have chosen to push the envelope, as we saw last year with the crackdowns and infiltrations of the Occupy protests. But at least in principle, on the books, we have those freedoms. We need to be exercising them CONSTANTLY now.

  7. CJ

     /  July 27, 2012

    Just a thought, haven’t all the shootings in the USA over the past however long been in no gun zones? Movie theaters, highschools, none of them have been in an area where the normal citizenry have been armed. Which would instantly make out any shooters in that case to be cowards and bullies, those who would assault anyone with anything if they thought they could get away with it.

    A second thought, there’s a law that says you can’t take a baseball bat to peoples heads but the next time you’re in the sporting section of Walmart pause and think for a second. If you wanted to use that baseball bat as a weapon, what would that law do? The law is some words written on a piece of paper in a building hundreds of miles away and it won’t stop you from doing what you want. Nice people are the only ones who ever obey the law.

    That’s a rather extreme exaggeration of course, the United States of America was founded by people who were breaking the law and wanted an area they could break it in peace. Then they held a war over a tax. Doesn’t make them bad people, but criminals are engaged in the business of breaking the law and won’t exactly care about any law passed.

    Making laws restricting the use or acquisition of items will only stop people interested in upholding the law. I’m in Aus, and a non-firearms anecdotal example would be lockpicks. In Australia, lockpicks are a restricted item. You need to be a registered locksmith to own any, and on your way to your place of business or at your place of business in order to have them. Just walking around with them in your pocket is strictly forbidden as they’re classed as thieves tools and anyone who has them without being a registered locksmith is deemed to be a thief “on the job”. But you can take a picture off the internet, print it out onto paper, trace it onto card and laminate it. Then take that guide and use a grinder to cut a hacksaw blade to that specification. Voila, lockpick and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. On the other hand a housebrick through the window never gets old and is not only pretty easy to get a hold of, it doesn’t require training and extended practice in order to be used.

    Final thought, The recent shooting was by a person who had so many bombs in his apartment that police are still going through it (last I checked). Even if he didn’t have a commercial assault rifle (semi-automatic, could do the same thing with a pistol and a high capacity magazine), he would still have been quite capable of killing everyone in the cinema. Probably more capable since bombs tend to be easier to use than pulling a trigger repeatedly. Chlorine bleach canisters, gasoline in a bottle with a lit rag in the top, indiscriminate and deadly. I would posture that he would have committed that crime regardless of whether or not he had a gun.

    So from someone in Aus, banning guns won’t solve your problem. Violence will still occur from bullies willing to mistreat other people. Banning a particular implement will not only not help people getting their hands on it (a few years ago police found a few homemade silenced Sten guns in a garage), it will disarm your population and serve only to take up your courts and politicians time which could be better spent figuring out how to spot and treat people before the commit a crime like this rather than cleaning up the mess.

    For a basic analogy of why banning guns won’t work to end this overly long commentary, a few hundred (!) people die from car accidents every year and the amount of people caught driving while on drugs or after having been drinking heavily or driving at unsafe speeds continues to be extraordinarily high. Banning cars would not stop these people engaging in unsafe behaviour that puts themselves and others at risk. While I’m not arguing for the legalisation of ecstasy, I am arguing that problems don’t get fixed by hacking at them. Like grass, cut it every few weeks or apply a poison to the roots once.

    • Martin Lack

       /  July 29, 2012

      CJ, you make some very good points here (although I remain convinced that The Second Amendment to the Constitution was a fatal mistake). As the riots in the UK last summer demonstrated, civilised society and the rule of law is not maintained by force of arms but by popular consent. That is to say, people became lawless when they realised the police were unlikely to turn up. If that ever happens in the US the result will be carnage because every shop owner with a gun will start shooting the opportunistic looters…


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