Gary Horton | Ditto the Gun Violence Column, Once More

Last week, responding to the Gilroy mass-murder, I wrote:

“We have become slaves to an anachronistic, tortured (Second Amendment), and as slaves, we’re passive bystanders to the slaughter of our own people. Thousands of them. Tens of thousands of them. Thousands every year. White, black, male, female – everyone.”

I certainly didn’t mean that column to be prophesy, but: a) Prophesy isn’t needed to predict continued mass murder gun slaughter, and: b) That sadly, “didn’t take long for the next one.”

And so, this weekend we’ve been again sickened with mass-murder in America, with 30 dead and counting between El Paso and Dayton. And hundreds wounded and terrorized in the process – their lives changed forever from the carnage and outrage they witnessed.

But wasn’t that the intention of the shooters?

In El Paso it surely was, with the shooter posting manifestos of, “Responding to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Perhaps that shooter should have read up on his Texas history about just who invaded who back then, and his actions may have been different.

The Dayton shooter’s motives still aren’t quite clear. 

Perhaps this has just become “a thing” – with one nut-job seeking to out-shoot, out-carnage the rest. Just like a wickedly real…game.

I’m worried about “the thing” phenomena. Things become “things,” when they gather increasing attention and pretty soon, everyone’s doing it. Think hula hoops. Think “the Twist.” Think more seriously about the commercial airline hijackings in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 

Back then, hijackings became so frequent they were almost commonplace. Rather like our mass-murder shootings today. No one was immune. Airlines all over the world were subject to hijackers seeking everything from release of war prisoners, to B.D. Cooper’s jump with the cash, to simple notoriety. 

Airlines were soft targets, and criminals and radicals took full advantage of our vulnerabilities, terrorizing the flying public. For many hijackers, terrorizing the population was the point – fully consummated in the 9-11 attacks. 

Hijacking had become, “a thing.” It’s what you did when you were a terrorist or a radical or dogmatic and wanted something when only asymmetrical actions would do the trick. And security was lax, and one would get on a plane with a buddy or two and pull out the guns and let the terror begin.

Guns. Gotta love ’em. They’ve done so much good for us.

So – mass-murder shootings are again all over the front page. Our public places present soft targets. This time, targets with an increasingly expressed motive of “taking back our country” and other nationalist tripe. It doesn’t take too much personal honesty to see how some of these white nationalist ideas are more widespread and out in the open since the arrival of you-know-who in chief. 

We do indeed put our nation at risk when our own “leader” is so very divisive. And his hate-speech is nudging nut jobs to act on the tweeted ideas.

So, now we may have, “a thing” going on. Like “Me and Mrs. Jones” – but with murder instead of fornicating. And, like “Mrs. Jones,” We “all know that it’s wrong, but it’s much too strong – to let it go.”

We just can’t let it go. We just can’t collectively say we’re done and through with domestic terror and mass-murder, and gang shootings, and gunpower-infused suicides… We are literally tearing ourselves apart, terrorizing ourselves silly, making the whole country a nervous wreck – and still, the gun thing is “much too strong to let it go.”

But there could be “a thing going on.” like we had with all those hijackings. And back then, when the public, the airlines, and governments around the world finally had enough terror and carnage– they got super damn serious about airline safety. 

And we lost some rights. We couldn’t bring our friends to the gate. Couldn’t bring in liquids. Had to have everything x-rayed, sometimes searched, and no more guns or knives allowed. 

Bummer. 

But since 9-11 it’s been pretty quiet on the hijacking front. 

Turns out, collectively, we valued aviation and personal safety more than convenience and lax security rules in our airline systems. We changed our laws and saved our lives.

So here we are, with a gun thing going on. With the start of a white nationalist gun-club shoot-’em-out going on, in addition to the regular obscene thousands of gun murders a month going on.

We are one hell of an outlier of a nation when it comes to all this. We’re the freaking wild West of gun fetishists. We’re seen as the clowns of the world more willing to suffer our lives to be taken, our minds to be traumatized — than to get as serious about guns as we were about air travel.

We’d better be getting a heck of a lot more serious pretty darn fast.

Back to that Second Amendment issue: So, why didn’t our founding fathers craft an amendment on aviation rights? Silly question. They never thought of jetliners. And why didn’t they craft the Second Amendment to limit the mayhem caused by civilian ownership of high-capacity, high-speed war weapons? Silly question. Back in the day of muskets and 60-second reloads, the carnage caused by modern hand-held war machines wasn’t in their imagination.

Now, in our time, we’ve got a gun thing going on. Would our founding fathers do nothing?

Silly question. Damn straight the Founding Fathers would sort this out. 

And so should we. No thinking person would endure this lunacy without aggressive, effective response. Just like we did with the aviation threat. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.

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