Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Madness

Every week, my husband and I usually go out for breakfast to a local diner.  We like one particular server, and she always has a space for us in the back of the restaurant.  This Saturday, the booth we sat in was right next to a booth where a young man sat with his girlfriend--all the while he was talking on the phone.

It was really very very annoying. I debated with myself whether it would be worthwhile to ask him, ever so politely, if he would mind talking a bit less loudly.  But I didn't.  And, frankly, one of the reasons I didn't is because it crossed my mind--just a glimmer of a thought--that he just might react violently to my request.  As with many states, the state I live in allows people, who have the correct permit, to carry concealed weapons.  So, yes, that thought too crossed my mind.  What if he has a firearm?

Far-fetched, you say?  An over-active imagination?  I wish that were true, but each day it becomes more and more clear that as a nation we have become gripped with THE MADNESS.  We have taken one of the articles in the Bill of Rights, appended to our Constitution, and have made of it a sacred never-to-be-moderated-in-any-way absolute.  

Just this week, a story flashed across various news sites about a 71 year old man who went to see a movie in Florida.  His experience is one that many of us have had.  You go to the movies, someone sitting near you (in this case, in front of) is talking or texting (in this case texting) on a cell phone.  And, yes, it can be annoying.  But his response was madness.  Reasonably enough, he first talked to the man in front, then he sought the aid from the management, but when he returned and exchanged angry words with the man, the 71 year old man pulled out a concealed weapon and SHOT THE MAN DEAD.  Madness.

This most recent event will not spur any action at all.  We have had so many recent events where someone with a firearm of some kind, whether a handgun or a hunting rifle or a high-powered assault rifle has gone on a shooting spree.  We have had victims numbering from one killed to scores killed.  We have had men, women, and children killed.  We have had drive-by shootings where someone completely uninvolved in whatever altercation is killed.  We have had instances where someone with clear psychiatric illness has gone to a town-meeting, one of the hallmarks of our democracy, with the intent to kill as many people as he could.  We have had occasions where young men with assault rifles have walked into schools, or even shot their way into schools, where they stalk the halls killing whomever they encounter.

After all of these horrific events, we have cried out in anguish and said--something must change.  And, every time the effort to somehow some way restore a small degree of sanity has failed.

As I try to make sense of the madness that has gripped our nation, words from the Bible come to my mind: those who live by the sword will die by the sword.  Of course, Jesus--who uttered these words--is not saying that everyone who uses a sword will be killed by a sword.  But he is saying that if you depend on violence to solve all things, then violence will rule your life.  That is what is happening to our country.  

I read a haunting story recently in the New York Times.  It answered a question that has long nagged at me: why didn't more people, who advocated for guns, support gun control.  The article told the story of  Dick Metcalf who wrote for the magazine  Guns & Ammo.  He wrote an article in October entitled "Let's Talk About Limits."  One of the points he made was that ALL constitutional rights are regulated, so why not gun ownership?

The backlash was almost instantaneous, and Dick Metcalf was fired.  The Times article continued with other examples of gun advocates who have been banished from writing because of their support for reasonable gun control measures.  

I must acknowledge that I am not a gun owner.  If I ever fired a gun in my life, I don't know when that would have been.  The only time I ever handled a gun was during my high school years when I briefly joined the NRA school club...because there was a boy in the club who I really really liked!  My husband held a part-time job once, as a guard, where he had to have a handgun as part of his uniform and equipment.  When he came home, that gun was placed in a small suitcase, locked, and then placed HIGH on a closet shelf in an unused bedroom.

I do not begrudge people who do have guns their right to have those weapons.  But, the absolute tyrannical way that the Second Amendment is being rendered is madness.  We have made it possible for people to "stand their ground" by stalking a young man, then gunning him down because the person with a gun felt "threatened."  We have made it possible for drivers to get into situations where anger rises, then a gun is produced, and shots are fired from moving vehicles with the shots striking innocent people standing nearby.  We have made it possible for a mother to put on a very public display of carrying her sidearm to her children's soccer games, to then argue vociferously of her "right" to have that gun--and then, to have that same mother be shot dead by her own husband while she talked in a video phone call--the person to whom she was talking having witnessed the whole event.  We have made it possible for far too many young people, almost always men, with festering mental illness to acquire a gun, walk into some public venue--a local shopping mall, a movie theater, a school--and carry out a massacre. 

The madness.

All this leads me to a conclusion--the very amendment which was crafted to help liberate us from a tyrannical power*--has now become tyrannical in itself.  The gun lobby has become a tyrannical power.  People are no longer safe, and the very thing that threatens our safety is the thing that was designed to secure our freedom from Britain, which had limited gun ownership to standing armies. 

Forgive my Cassandra-like mood.  But, I only see more death and destruction for far too many innocents in our country--as long as THE MADNESS grips us.  Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

*A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.


Anvilcloud said...

Hear, hear. There's nothing to add. You have nailed it.

NCmountainwoman said...

So sad and so true. And our wise old white men here in NC have made carrying a gun legal in our city parks, National and State forests, and in school parking lots among others. In these days of quick tempers it is frightening indeed.

Ginnie said...

Once again you have written so convincingly about a toxic subject. It's too bad so few people seem to agree. I hate it.

BTW: I'm so glad you saw my blog about "The Housemaid's Daughter". With your background in Africa I think you will really relate.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! Yesterday I noticed that someone had posted a notice about a "Concealed Carry Class" on our block. It gave me a sick feeling to even read the sign.

The paranoia which grips our country is sheer madness. Members of Congress think of the other party as the enemy. It spells doom for one to even be in the same picture frame with an opposing member. Are duels next?

It seems we're past the point of "what will it take to stop this madness." Certainly not the lives of children; that barely raises a ripple any more.

I appreciate your writing this--a candle in the darkness.

Dog_geek said...

The NRA will probably come out with a statement in favor of stricter texting control.