Should I be accused of proceeding with unfair bias in this article, I will begin with a neutral presentation of facts.
Two days ago, The Washington Post reported that there had been 1,001 mass shootings defined as “any single incident in which four or more people are injured by gunfire,” a piece by Christopher Ingraham on The Post’s “Wonkblog,” in the United States since Jan. 2013.
Erica Goode and Benedict Carey of The New York Times wrote Oct. 7 that “… experts have come to understand [mass shootings] less as isolated expressions of rage and more as acts that build on the blueprints of previous rampages.”
The Oct. 1 shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where 10 people were killed and another seven wounded, is a reminder of that.
News headlines are saturated with incidents of people bringing guns to public places and carving out paths of destruction. Unfortunately, and alarmingly, these sort of occurrences seem to be unfolding in a pattern.
Someone goes on a rampage.
People are slain.
Perhaps for a day or so, the nation joins those affected in mourning and solidarity.
Gradually, the country forgets.
No decisive action is ever taken to prevent another tragedy from occurring. And then, just as the smoke clears and the last round of corpses are buried, it happens again.
To me, there is something egregious and discernibly immoral about a nation that would rather continue to bury its citizens who have died in these senseless acts of violence than advocate for preventative measures that might curb these tragedies.
Conservative hawks, with blood on their hands as well as their collective conscience, will continue to screech about the 2nd Amendment,which states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
I wonder now whether James Madison still would have wanted to include that fateful clause in the United States Bill of Rights if he could see the abuse with which it is so fervently upheld today.
In the context of 1789, it made perfect sense. The original 13 states had just fought a war that guaranteed their sovereignty from England. Very little of the territory that the United States possessed was settled.
If any sort of uprising were to break out, it was a vital necessity for the people of a community to be defended by a militia, and for this militia to be armed. In many ways, the lives and the security of citizens depended on it.
What the conservative bloc in this country seems to have trouble grasping is that it’s no longer 1789.
When our communities face unrest today, they should be protected by a ubiquitous police force, and, in dire situations, a National Guard.
Our Constitution, which the conservative bloc is so enamored with, makes no provisions for vigilante justice without the authority and due process of law. There seems to be little to no reason, then, for each private citizen (rather than the citizen forces established to protect them) to go about his or her day-to-day business with a gun strapped to them at all times.
This is not to ignore, of course, that our current police force needs to do a much better job using restraint with guns, with black citizens in particular. But let me stick to one major issue at a time here.
I find it a critical and gravely unfortunate failure on our part as human beings that, in some way or another, we have never been able to refrain from killing one another. Hundreds of years ago, we did it with swords and spears. The same effect is now obtained with much less effort via bullets in the barrel of a gun.
Perhaps I’m in the minority in thinking so, but to me, it is craven and abhorrent that individuals should value an entitlement to bear firearms more than the lives of other human beings.
If I were in a position to do so, I would not only confiscate all firearms—I would expend all my efforts on destroying them and wiping their very memory from the face of the Earth.
So be it if people are that intent on killing one another; at least they would do it more slowly if they went back to using swords and spears.
For my part, I won’t let my idealism be suppressed by the callousness of the world. Let the militant conservatives brandish their guns.
In the meantime, I will brandish a pen.
Featured Photo Credit: Spring 1970 – Student activists protest at Ohio’s Kent State University. This prominent event in history resulted in roughly 13 injuries and four deaths. Eight troopers were eventually indicted in the killings. (Courtesy of Photojournalism student John Filo)
Horus Alas is senior philosophy major and can be reached at email@example.com.