Yesterday there was another mass shooting that killed 17 people. This time it was in a high school; the alleged killer was a former student who may have received paramilitary training from white supremacists.
Former San Francisco mayor and current California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom responded back on Twitter to every Republican politician who offered up phony “thoughts and prayers” with the phrase “Then do something about it.”
A comedy writer responded back to those same tweets with the amount of money each politician has accepted from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Gay activist and writer Igor Volsky has done the same thing for multiple mass shootings.
The New York Times and OpenSecrets.org teamed up hundreds of deaths ago to provide a continuously updated accounting of NRA donations, and every time another homegrown terrorist attack happens those numbers get trotted out on social media.
Your friends and family, those complete strangers you’re connected with for some reason, journalists, and scores of politicians have all been posting memes and photos and hot takes. So have mine. So have untold thousands of other people we don’t know.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all light up with the same recycled content after each mass shooting. The only thing that changes is the number of people who have died and the latest NRA donation amounts. The scorn for “thoughts and prayers” is as consistent and predictable as the calls for them.
Conservative politicians started pushing the excuse that it was callous to “use” a tragedy to pass laws that ensure it wouldn’t happen again with Pavlovian quickness. Progressive politicians rapidly called for bans on bump stocks and assault rifles, stricter background checks, and an end to loopholes in laws most of us will never fully understand.
One thing missing from the drumbeat of condemnation from progressives and excuses from conservatives is telling, however. Neither side wants to admit the real problem.
And the real problem is you.
When one of these shootings happen, donations to the NRA go up. Gun company stocks shoot through the roof. Anti-gun groups get donations. Politicians on both sides of the aisle get donations too – from both their ideologically aligned constituents and special interest groups. Sales of guns go up – especially when we had a black president in office.
Everyone is making money off of this “debate,” but you’re happily paying the price.
Who is giving the money to the various groups fueling this debate? Who throws their hard earned cash to the politicians as a congratulations for tweets and soundbites and very very strong stances for or against…something? Who’s buying stock in gun manufacturers? And most importantly of all, who is buying those guns?
Who is too busy posting on social media, signing petitions, and reading quick takes to actually get off their ass and create real change, instead of asking for it nicely?
Talk to a good liberal and they’ll tell you that they are doing their part. They’re “demanding” change, despite the evidence that their pleadings are going unanswered. They’re leaving voicemails for politicians who don’t care about them when the gun lobby is giving them massive amounts of money that can’t be matched by most individual voters. They’re donating to anti-gun groups.
Talk to a good conservative and they’ll tell you that they feel just awful for those poor dead people, but it’s too early to discuss changing the laws while everyone is grieving the nonstop attacks. They offer those infamous “thoughts and prayers” because if you put it in your savior’s lap, it’s not your problem. They shovel money at the NRA’s pro-murder politicians because they oppose same-sex marriage. They grab guns by the dozens at trade shows, department stores, and pawn shops.
And then, those same average Americans – both liberal and conservative – tell us that they believe in stricter gun control while pushing fistfuls of cash at those who have the most to gain from the status quo.
But who is following gun apologist politicians around regularly shouting out the amount of donations they’ve taken from the gun lobby in exchange for our safety? Which politician is going to finally admit that the only actual solution is the Australian solution of simply banning guns altogether unless it’s specifically needed.
Who blocks the doors of the NRA every single day while reading the names of the slaughtered dead? When will we take to the streets by the millions to protect our children’s lives?
When will Americans move this “debate” into real life, beyond being forced to hide in a closet for hours, or discovering you are now one of those being asked to identify a body?
Before pussy grabbing Trump was elected, social media thought it was making a difference. Once he was inaugurated, millions turned out nationwide wearing their proudly homemade pink hats and carrying signs with witty slogans they saw on social media a few months ago when they were “demanding” a win for Hillary.
Do we need to knit every damned American who says they support stricter gun control a beanie before they’ll actually do something beyond wring their hands and collectively offer what amounts to “thoughts and prayers?” Do you want yours to be red for blood, grey for a gun barrel, or black to symbolize death? Obviously, these things matter now, because we all grew numb to the tragedy long ago.
As George Carlin said:
Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents, and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses, and American universities, and they’re elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do, folks. This is what we have to offer, it’s what our system produces. Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders….Maybe something else sucks around here, like the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: The public sucks, fuck hope.”
This isn’t about the Second Amendment’s “well regulated militia” any longer. The militias aren’t regulated now and they won’t stop killing our children.
This is a mob – and you’re out in front, but don’t know it. That sucks.