Monday, January 10, 2011

Arizona sees the mundane face of evil

     Here I sit, halfway watching the BCS championship, but also sitting and reading updates on the sad shooting that took place in the same state.

     The harm done and lives taken and affected by this is very far removed from my comfy living space at this moment. But from the descriptions I've read all I can say is that several good people were killed or hurt by one very stupid man. And sometimes that's all that there is to a story. I don't want to trivialize this by referring to a work of fiction, but to illustrate this point I'm going to mention a thought I had while watching the new Coen brothers film of "True Grit" a few weeks ago.

     In the film, when we first meet the man who killed Mattie Ross's father he is a mumbling moron. Not super sinister or intimidating. Just a dummy who had a gun and a desire. At times like this in our country, we see that evil isn't always a mesmerizing figure who has power over others like Hitler or Charles Manson. Sometimes it's just some guy that wouldn't be all that scary if he didn't have a gun in his hand.

     To all you trying to politicize this I say stop. And that means everyone. I know Olbermann and those on MSNBC have said their bit referring to the Tea Party, but those on the other side are doing the same thing. Conservative hosts love to play the victim when something like this happens. They get to say that the "liberal media" is blaming conservatives. Nevermind that when they say that, they're usually referring to a select group of loudmouth commentators. Just leave it alone. There are no great lessons to learn here, except perhaps from the lives of the victims and the heroism that was displayed by some. When evil comes bringing death sometimes it comes in the form of a community college student who writes bad poetry.  


  1. I agree that the name-calling and finger-pointing should stop. We live in a complex world where simplistic "if, then" scenarios are too easy, too convenient for such an event.

    However, I do think it's okay---necessary, even---to begin another dialogue on why gun murders are so common in this country. We are the most heavily armed country in the world. 30,000 people every year die from gunshots in the U.S. Why are guns which are designed to kill people still sold to the public? I understand we have a second amendment. I'm not arguing about that. But can't we try---for the common good---to eliminate guns that are designed to hold so many rounds for sale to the general public?

  2. Honestly, yes I think it is time to have a conversation on that. But I have a distaste for having it this soon after. The concept of self defense and guns is something understand. A recent instance in LR where a store owner defended himself and his store with a gun behind a counter comes to mind.

    But our founders weren't prophets and they didn't know the kind of firepower their words would allow people to carry around all these years later, or the kind of world it would be. I would say more rigoruous screening procedures and banning the sale of certain guns and items (like greater capacity clips) would be common sense policy.

    But what of all the guns already in existence in private hands possibly waiting to be used in future massacres? What would stop the use of those? No one is suggesting confiscation of privately held firearms. I and many others would oppose this.

  3. Maybe it seems distasteful to us, but I wonder if the victims' families would find it so offensive? I know if it were my child that had been mercilessly shot in the chest, I would certainly appreciate an honest attempt to curb the accessibility of guns that are designed to kill large amounts of people quickly.

    I don't know the solution to all the guns already in existence. Maybe we should make it harder to buy ammunition? Apparently you can just walk into a Sporting Goods store and walk out 10 minutes later with a gun. There has to be a better system to background check everyone. I'm a teacher and it took me two weeks to pass a background check just to get into a classroom. (No weapons allowed!) And I could get a gun in 10 minutes?? Doesn't make sense.

  4. If some of the families of the victims make this effort then I would see no problem with that. I just don't want to see their tragedy used and manipulated by others with an agenda.

    I know the "if guns are made criminal then only criminals will own guns" argument is on countless bumper stickers. The problem is that true criminals can and will get guns if they want them. On the other hand these mass shooters are rarely hardened criminals. They're just losers who decide to buy a gun one day.

    I think tougher enforcement of background checks and banning the sale of certain items (like extended capacity clips) is the way to handle this without totally destroying our current Constitutional text.

    Our politicians have already passed many laws that we take for granted for public safety issues. I don't see a huge (sane) reason to fight for clips on handguns that hold up to 30 bullets. As a person who has shot several guns in my life, I agree that it would be a blast to fire a handgun with 30 bullets on a range, but I think the enjoyment of that doesn't outweigh the reality of where we are today.