Mass Shootings

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Fifty-odd years ago there was a rash of airplane hijackings. Taking a plane to Cuba was a regular thing, you almost thought 707s were personal Ubers. But then strict security measures were enforced at airports. Suddenly there was screening for metal, i.e. guns, and not only could passengers not walk straight from the parking lot to the gate, their friends and families couldn’t either. Yes, that was a regular feature, you’d walk off the jetway and there your loved ones would be, smiling, ready to walk you out of the airport to the car. If you were a regular flier…you could arrive at the gate mere minutes before they shut the door and the plane took off. It was so much easier! But then those damn hijackers ruined it for everyone.

If the same thing happened today, if people were hijacking planes and we didn’t have layers of security, there would be an outcry at the institution of any screening, it would impinge upon people’s liberty and freedom. As for a solution to the problem, pilots would all be told to strap on guns. And if that didn’t work, then the passengers. After all, one has a right to get on the plane without personal intrusion, and if it affects the well-being of others, so be it.

Fascinatingly, twenty years ago this same swath of the public was willing to give up so many rights in the effort to fight terrorism. No liquids or blades on the plane. Sure, you could bring small containers, but even at this late date it’s always fascinating to look in the garbage cans at both ends of the security screening apparatus. They’re filled with contraband. Some are too stupid, some are uninformed, some just forget…but shouldn’t they be protected, why do they have to throw this stuff out?

This is America today. We are not a homogenous society under one president, we’re not even an homogenous society under one flag! We are not all in it together, we’re all out for ourselves. It’s caveat emptor through and through, you don’t deserve welfare and if you want to be rich pull yourself up by your bootstraps you lazy S.O.B. But if you’re going to have a disabled kid, it’s your responsibility, life is precious, it must not be snuffed.

As for mental health…

Let’s start with opportunity, jobs. You have to go to college today to get a high-paying job, a reasonable job, forget what you learn there, it’s a litmus test. God forbid you don’t have a high school degree, you’re a nonentity. Used to be you could make bucks as a blue collar worker, but now you have to run around like a rat in the Amazon warehouse, afraid of unionizing for fear Jeff Bezos will come and crush your job, while the enterprise makes you watch anti-union videos, legal under the law, because America runs on corporations, and if they’re not given welfare, how is the money supposed to trickle down to you, the rank and file?

This is not the way it used to be.

But this is the way it is now.

I’m not saying it used to be perfect, but LBJ had a war on poverty, and one can debate whether there’s less poverty today, but one thing’s for sure, no one cares about the poor, you’re the scourge of society, and if you’re doing dope good riddance. Yes, there wasn’t an opioid problem until the scions of the wealthy started to drop.

This streak of “rugged individuality” appeared in westerns, but hadn’t been the everyday life of U.S. citizens since the 1800s. But it’s back now. You need your freedom, the freedom not to get a vaccine. Back in that same era, actually about a decade before the airplane hijackings, we all lined up in school to take a plastic spoonful of polio vaccine. That couldn’t happen today. Ironically, both the extreme right and the extreme left would be up in arms. Both would distrust the government, both would question the safety and efficacy of the drug, and both would rely on bogus information to support their case. We used to agree on the facts, which were reasonable. But believing in Q and being in Congress? Impossible!

So what do we do now?

First and foremost, we ignore the ignorant. For far too long, we’ve been playing to their sensitivities, we’ve been afraid of offending them. Not only on a governmental level, but on a personal one too. Obama kowtowed to Republicans who wouldn’t work with him no matter what. And you were told you must not talk politics, you might offend someone.

But today, Biden has called foul on this governmental strategy. And Joe is supported by more than half the country, he was elected by a margin of ten million votes, his approval rating is 59% as of this writing. But those on the other side not only can’t accept this, they don’t believe it!

The sides are sliding further apart. And they must come together, falsehoods, misinformation, inanities must be quashed and eliminated.

You can’t appease anyone anymore. They’re dug into their position. Why respect one based on falsehoods. Never mind a stacked Supreme Court that believes if you’re gathering under religion, somehow Covid-19 knows and you’re immune, and therefore this behavior is protected, never mind that choir that got infected.

We’ve got to start laying down the law.

You want to fly on an airplane? You’ve got to be vaccinated. Just like with guns. We’re not saying we’re taking away your guns, we’re just saying you can’t fly with them, it’s your choice.

Same deal with going into public spaces. Concerts, even grocery stores. It’s for the common good, for all our health. And why is it you believe in individual freedom but are depending upon the rest of the population to achieve herd immunity so you don’t have to get a vaccine, for either Covid-19 or measles? We’ve got to stop accommodating the crazies.

As for guns…

They must have security features. Forget being able to defend your home, statistics tell us you shoot innocent people, never mind yourself. And if guns are in your home, they must be locked up. Tell me again why an unlocked, unprotected gun is necessary in your home? So your kid can play with it and shoot his brother or sister?

And we need background checks and high penalties and…

A governmental safety net, so if you lose your job you can survive. Lose your gig and you lose not only your salary, but your health insurance! If we had national health care, fewer would shoot up workplaces.

And these independent insurance companies should be forced to pay for mental health care, which even if the law says they should don’t, or limit.

But we must attack guns at the source.

Let’s start with the Second Amendment. Even if one could interpret it as the right to defend oneself against a militia…we don’t fight wars that way anymore. You can’t overthrow a government today with personal firearms. The key to victory today is computers. And every adult American has a smartphone. Sure, you can keep your smartphone, but you can’t use your gun to defend yourself.

Change the Second Amendment first. Make it clear. Don’t tell me it can’t be done, think big, put it in the national discussion. Think of the leaders in Silicon Valley, they don’t say it can’t be done. And isn’t it funny that we’re using Elon Musk’s rockets to go back to the moon. We used to rely on the government, but for forty years the government has been excoriated, but when there’s a national disaster, everybody’s got their hands out.

But truly, this isn’t about guns, this is about Americans. They’ve been sold a bill of goods. They’ve been told everyone can be rich and famous even though taxes are low and the school sucks. They’ve been told that praying will solve problems. They’ve been told that unless they blindly dig in their heels they’ll lose something dear. They’re so afraid of losing something that they abhor change, in every walk of life. You’re scared you’re gonna lose out in the future. And if you do, it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s like everybody wants to go back to the pre-seatbelt, pre-airbag days, after all it’s expensive and uncomfortable, shouldn’t you have a choice?

No you should not! It’s the same deal with motorcycle helmets, you may not want to wear one, but if you crash we’re the ones picking up the tab for not only your medical bills, but possibly for welfare in the future when you can’t work.

Furthermore, we can’t even hold the culprits accountable. We can have hearings over social media, but we’re told the companies are self-policing. There can be no restrictions. But then what they say can’t be done is, like technology to flag copyright infringement. They kick Trump off of Twitter and calm returns. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, why can you do so on the internet? Never mind the bankers who blow up the economy and get away without going to jail. Have an air-freshener hanging from your rearview mirror and you might not only end up in jail, you might end up dead, because the rules are different for the rich and the poor, never mind people of color.

Just like with JFK in the sixties, we need to think big. We need moon shot goals. We need to point everybody at the same target. And we must trust government to get things done and government must try to get things done. We should have a ten point list, and then we should do our best to achieve it. And since no one can agree on anything these days, it must come from the individual, one in power.

Come on, how about the elimination of false information on the internet. Why do you need the right to spread bogus info?

Same deal with guns in public. Enough with the hogwash about needing to defend yourself, if anything you’ve got the cops, which these same people laud, so anxious and trigger-happy that they’re shooting innocent people.

Right now there’s no control in America. Things are pretty good in California, both economically and virus-wise, but not quite half the population demonizes the Golden State because…exactly why? No one is forcing anyone to move here, and so much of the technological breakthroughs originate here. And California drives the economy of the nation. What’s the problem here again?

Big problems demand big solutions, end zone passes. How many people are complaining they can’t bypass security at the airport? None. How many people are gonna bitch when everybody is vaccinated and Covid-19 is eradicated? None. People have short attention spans. Deliver success and they forget about their complaints.

But we must take action. We must stop wringing our hands and saying problems are unsolvable, we must stop letting the tail wag the dog. Freedom is being alive and able to live without fear, not being able to do what you want to 24/7 irrelevant of your fellow citizens.

We can make progress. It all depends on leaders, who speak truth, who refuse to worry about naysayers, and are just concerned with doing what is right.

But too many Americans are focused on what is wrong. They’re right, you’re wrong. Really? There can’t be any consensus? Right now we live in a Tower of Babel society, driven by the internet. And nobody with any power seems to realize this. We’ve lost control. We must use all available tools to bring control back. Otherwise, we’re going to lose not only lives, but our nation. I’m willing to sacrifice for the common good, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!

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