The killing rampage in Santa Barbara this last week has been adequately, if not overly, covered by all the major news services from print to television and maybe even a newsreel preceding the latest cartoon-superhero-remake-extravaganza playing down at the multiplex. Since I tend to listen to the radio each morning while performing my chores, I have heard responses from the denizens of this country (we must have a lot of rocks around for them to crawl out from under) that touch on all aspects of the tragedy … but most are knee-jerk defenses of the American right to own handguns and other forms of man-killing fires-sticks.
But two quotations stick out in my mind and I’d like to document them here.
First, there is our old friend, Joe the Plumber, real-American and belovéd of Sarah Palin. Joe actually wrote to the family of one of the victims of the tragedy to say:
“Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights”
Here’s what they wrote in the Daily Kos:
Conservative sensitivity at its finest, courtesy of Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher. Speaking in a time of great tragedy, Wurzelbacher’s only response to a grieving father discussing his son’s right to live is that the be all and end all is the right of Americans to be armed to the teeth without any regulation.
There is a time, a place and a manner for such discussions. He could easily wait several days. He could just as easily frame his ideas in less crass terms. He could choose to use words that will not rub salt in open wounds. He decided not to engage in such behavior, which, unfortunately, is nothing new for him.
This kind of absolutism disturbs those of us that see shades of gray. Not everyone that favors sensible gun regulations seeks to take away each and every gun from each and every law-abiding citizen. Not everyone that believes in the right to bear arms is someone that opposes sensible gun regulations. Wurzelbacher, and those like him, fail to recognize the former and are most certainly not the latter.
I have previously laid out my own view when it comes to gun control. Guns should be treated like other potentially deadly instrumentalities. Automobiles are registered and their operators are licensed. …
I have written about this before and it is heartening to hear more and more commentators suggesting we deal with gun ownership and use much as we do with automobiles and driving. This is even more important because there is no compensation for those victims of gun violence; if the person had been hit by a car, the insurance company would have been minimally liable for medical expenses, but since it is a shooting, there is no insurance or any other form of compensation for the victim. If the victim is permanently disabled or has to undergo numerous operations and spend many days or even months in a hospital, the victim is on his or her own. This makes the earlier suggestion of requiring some form of insurance for gun owners even more obviously important. (Refer to my re-posting from HuffPost).
The other quotation is actually from the venerable Onion and, as so often we discover in humor, it really zeroes in on a major scotoma plaguing this, the land of exceptionalism:
‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens
ISLA VISTA, CA—In the days following a violent rampage in southern California in which a lone attacker killed seven individuals, including himself, and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”
Says it all to me …