The GOP and NRA unleash real horrors on our children.
Once upon a time, in a more rational United States of America, the Boogeyman materialized under your bed or in the closet the moment the lights went out.
Parents around the world invoked his name to keep kids in line – mostly to keep them in bed – for generations. Centuries, even. Hop out of bed when you’re not supposed to and the Boogeyman will grab one of your legs, drag you under and… well… who knows? It’s the unknown that has always made the unseen monster so terrifying.
But, yes. As far-fetched as that is, it’s decidedly more rational than the Boogeyman of today.
The contemporary Boogeyman is much more horrifying and dangerous, and we all know what’s going to happen when he enters a child’s life. Kids are going to die.
He’s usually white, often wearing Kevlar, camo and other combat gear, and he’s carrying an AR-15 style automatic, other firearms and loads and loads of ammunition. He enters schools and mows down kids, teachers and support staff in the hallways and classrooms that are supposed to be safe havens.
He’s become all too real in the USA.
The worst thing? He’s a lethal menace of our own creation.
Imagine the Horror
I doubt many children are too worried about the mythic monster anymore. They know exactly what they need to fear most in this world. Their Boogeyman is an in-your-face reality every time they crawl under a desk during an active-shooter drill and after every school shooting. They know it as well as you or me.
And those are the kids who have never experienced an active shooter. Consider those who have –
Take a moment. Ease in a breath. Close your eyes.
Imagine you’re once again your 8-year-old self. A stranger bursts into your classroom. A moment ago you were doing your math homework. He’s firing indiscriminately at your classmates. Your teacher goes down. There’s blood everywhere your brain is overwhelmed deafening concussions screaming screaming screaming the gun turns on you….
Yet as painstakingly as we might try, we will never conjure, let alone comprehend, the sheer terror the kids experienced at Stoneman Douglas, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Robb Elementary or dozens of other USA schools before their lives ended.
We can’t imagine the horror survivors must live through, probably all the time but definitely whenever there’s another school shooting. And there’s always another school shooting.
Growing up in the 1970s, I could never have conceived of this monster. Nor could my parents. When they gave me a hug and sent me off to school, it never occurred to them that I might be murdered during snack time.
These days, when parents hug their kids and wish them a good day at school, it’s a very real possibility. Uvalde taught us that. Again.
But Robb Elementary is only the most recent of the 27 school shootings in our nation over the course of the 22 weeks that the rest of us have lived through in 2022. That’s more than one mass shooting in a school… Every. Single. Week.
For the first time in history, more of our children are dying from gun violence than any other cause.
It’s no accident.
Money & Guns Out of Control
The National Rifle Association, its stooges in Congress – mostly Republicans but too many Democrats, too – and 2nd Amendment misinterpreters want to tell us that the solution is more guns.
They’ve been pushing the country in that direction, passing state laws that make it easier to buy and carry a gun and vehemently resisting any attempt at reasonable gun control measures at the local, state and national levels. They let the federal assault weapons ban expire in 2004. And just a few months after 1st graders were slaughtered in their classrooms in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, they voted against reasonable gun control measures again.
More guns will solve the problem? The facts counter the suggestion.
Let me put it this way – these assholes have been doing everything outlined above for years. It’s become easier and easier for anyone and everyone to obtain firearms in the USA, and people continue to buy hundreds of thousands of them year after year. Given that, if the more guns theory held any water at all, both the number and frequency of mass shootings in the USA would be decreasing. But the opposite is true.
As Sandy Hook Promise points out, “The U.S. has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970 and these numbers are increasing. Alarmingly, 948 school shootings have taken place since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.”
Further, the availability of guns directly correlates to mass shootings. According to recent research, “Compared with the 10-year period before the (1994-2004 assault weapons) ban, the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37 percent and that the number of people dying because of mass shootings fell by 43 percent.
“But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers in the next 10-year period rose sharply – a 183 percent increase in mass shootings and a 239 percent increase in deaths.”
As for the claim that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Uvalde demonstrated that is absolute bunk.
Nineteen children died in Robb Elementary while 19 fully armed, highly trained law enforcement officers twiddled their thumbs outside for as long as an hour. If there were true justice in the world, their places would be swapped.
Meanwhile, the NRA money continues to talk through mouthpieces like Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other miscreants in state houses across the country and in the U.S. Congress.
“Harden the schools,” they say. Limit access and egress to one guarded door,” they insist. “Arm the teachers,” they preach. And their favorite, “Mental health is the real problem, not gun accessibility.”
Setting aside for a moment that these same people turn around and oppose anything that will improve mental health care in this country, here are the facts:
- Mental health issues are not restricted to the USA.
- The USA has exponentially more mass shootings than any other country in the world.
Forgive me, but I prefer my red herrings in literature, not public policy, and sure-as-shit not in the lives – and deaths – of schoolchildren.
The obtuseness of the NRA, Guns On Parade Party (GOP) and Gun Righters would be astonishing if it wasn’t so clear how cruel they are in so many other areas of social responsibility and public policy.
Gun Control? No, Just Sadness & Rage.
I’ve been trying to process my sadness and anger since the Uvalde shooting, even though I hadn’t even been able to process the Buffalo, NY, shooting yet. Like so many of you, I feel a rage so intense it’s burning away my rationalism.
Several writers have done an excellent job of conveying the same emotions I feel. I encourage you to read them, too:
- “Don’t Talk to Me About ‘Civility’”
- “There is a sickness in America”
- “Time to Stop the March of the Moral Zombies”
- “Uvalde shooting: The cowards in Stetsons”
Even with the consolation of knowing other people feel the way I feel, and are as angry as I am, I keep imagining the terror the victims – dead, wounded and fortunate to escape unscathed (physically, at least) – must have experienced, and the horror their families and friends are now condemned to experience every day for the rest of their lives.
The most basic covenant we have with our children is to keep them safe. We’ve failed, and thanks to the NRA, GOP and their minions, we continue to fail.
What a bunch of bullshit.
The Boogeyman went down to Texas, all right. That much is accurate.
But I was wrong about at least a couple of things – he wasn’t wearing Kevlar and he didn’t wave around an automatic weapon. He was wearing a conservative suit and red tie, and he was wielding a copy of the U.S. Constitution he either hasn’t read or doesn’t mind misrepresenting as long as the cash continues to flow.
I seriously doubt our kids fear the unknown Boogeyman anymore. He’s right there, in the flesh, just about any time of day on Fox fucking “news.”
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Featured image: Law enforcement officers seen at the scene of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, US, on May 24, 2022 [Marco Bello/Reuters]