The latest national news story involving gun violence comes from Smith Mountain Lake, about 90 miles from where I grew up in Virginia. This morning, two employees of the TV station WDBJ7 were shot during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza, apparently by a disgruntled ex-employee who I will not name here. WDBJ7 photographer Adam Ward was 27 and reporter Alison Parker had just turned 24; both are now dead – as is the shooter.
While their deaths were tragic and caught on live TV, these two young people are just the latest victims of America’s horrific epidemic of gun violence that has no end in sight.
The shots rang out on-air as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were presenting a local tourism story at an outdoor shopping mall. Viewers saw her scream and run, and she could be heard saying “Oh my God,” as she fell. Ward fell, too, and the camera he had been holding on his shoulder captured a fleeting image of the suspect holding a handgun.
WDBJ quickly switched back to the anchor at the station, her eyes large and jaw dropping as she said, “OK, not sure what happened there.” The station later went live again, reporting on their own station and staff as the story developed. (Source)
It isn’t just guns, it is the absolute callousness and disregard that gun fanatics have for the value of human life, placing their fundamentalist interpretation of the Second Amendment over everything else in our society. Whether or not the Moneta, VA gunman obtained the weapon legally or not, we don’t know yet. However, our culture celebrates violence and all too often, guns are glorified and portrayed as the answer to problems – like this disgruntled former employee decided to do.
Just recently, a gunman with a documented history of mental illness and extremist rhetoric opened fire in a movie theater here in Lafayette, killing two young women and wounding nine others. This past weekend, Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent was shot and killed by a suspect with a long criminal history. In all of these incidents, none of the shooters should have been able to obtain a firearm, but they had no problem doing so and then killing others. Every single time, we are told that “now is not the time to talk about guns” as Bobby Jindal was quick to say after the Lafayette shooting. We’re told that we have to pray more and buy more guns, rather than do anything to prevent future incidents.
Gun culture apologists never want to talk about the problem with gun violence, partly because they are an enabler of this epidemic. They have never blamed the easy access to firearms which allows criminals and the mentally ill to get their hands on a weapon quickly and easily. Instead of proposing any kind of solution that would allow sane, law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights and also make it harder for those who aren’t to get guns, gun fanatics tend to resort to hurling insults and even going so far as to stalk and harass anyone who suggests that perhaps more guns and prayer aren’t the answer. They love to point to gun violence in cities like Chicago as proof that laws don’t work, yet conveniently ignore the fact that illegal traffickers go to states with lax rules, buy a bunch of guns, and then sell them for a profit back in Chicago.
Guns are very much a part of American history. We could still be a British colony if it wasn’t for the Kentucky long rifle (and a lot of help from the French), and the Civil War could have turned out differently if it wasn’t for the Henry repeating rifle that was later used in the West to wipe out a lot of Native Americans, as well as drive the buffalo to the brink of extinction. Texans used guns to wrest control of the territory from the Mexican government, American soldiers turned back the Kaiser in WWI with the M1903 Springfield, and the Axis was defeated in WWII with the M1 Garand.
While the NRA and their horde of rabid followers claim that a gun is a tool just like a hammer or a knife, firearms were originally invented by the Chinese in the 10th century, specifically for the purpose of killing people. In the right situations, a S&W .40 pistol (which is what I own) or an AR-15 in the hands of a trained individual can take out a criminal or enemy combatant, but far too often weapons like these end up in the hands of people who have no business possessing one.
I own a number of weapons and believe that people should be able to do the same, providing they can demonstrate the ability to use them in a competent manner. I grew up with guns, I really enjoy shooting them, but I absolutely detest the NRA and their incessant message that more guns instead of gun laws are the only answer to our nation’s problem. Gun violence costs American taxpayers close to half a billion dollars annually, and a disproportionate number of victims are young men from impoverished areas.
It seems that gun violence is on the national news on an almost daily basis, but Americans keep on buying into the gun lobby’s talking points that liberals want to take everyone’s guns away and the only thing that stands between us and tyranny is everyone owning a buttload of weapons. When the Colorado shooting happened, their answer was that theater patrons should have been armed. When Sandy Hook happened, their answer is that the teachers should have been armed. When the Lafayette shooting happened, the answer yet again was people was that theater patrons should have been armed. It was no surprise that this morning, as soon as the news broke, gun fanatics claimed that the victims should have been armed.
Not once after all of these shootings has one person from the gun lobby suggested anything that would actually slow down the constant stream of gun violence stories. As much as they claim to support responsible gun ownership, they sure as hell don’t have any problem with mass shootings, especially since their sales boom every time one happens. Even the alcoholic beverages industry seems to promote a greater degree of responsibility to their consumers than the gun industry as a whole.
It seems that our country will never learn, or care enough to do anything of substance about gun violence.
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