Psst. It’s not the video games, the Second Amendment, or mental health. Guns and the cottage industries that bloom with mass shootings are profitable. Door jams, bullet-proof backpacks, media ad-rates, anxiety meds, and firearm sales, among other things, go up with each tragedy.
Year to date, this nation has racked up 250+ of these ultra-violent occurrences, a number that will seem quaint by the end of the year. It is an irrefutable crisis, but America can no longer be counted on to respond sensibly, and decisively to crisis. It is easier to make a profit than it is to take a stand.
We can put a grotesque number of dots on a map or fill multiple columns listing the citizens ripped away from us in the name of hate. We can make infographics to speak for us when words escape meaning. Stats and figures mean nothing to a governing populace plagued with cognitive dissonance. They and their lackeys are quick to assign blame, often to the most asine, irrelevant, things by using a sorely tortured logic to deflect a unifying truth. There is money and power, in fear and death.
The evidence of our collective callousness is clear. Set aside the tone-deaf campaigns that depict political rivals behind rifle scopes, or the names of colleagues on headstones. We didn’t care enough when small children were slaughtered in classrooms or when the faithful were horrifically brought to their knees in their houses of worship. Movie theaters and night clubs, military bases and business offices offer no immunity. We are impotent, and the best we can do is think and pray, or fret and bluster. We weigh the odds, give thanks and praise for those unharmed, and go about our day because we must. We’ve grown immune and desensitized to the senseless. We are fill-in-the-blank strong. It’s a placeholder for action that disguises our weakness. Heroes always emerge amid tragedy; mostly unarmed and selfless. We don’t have an absence of heroes; we have an absence of leaders, and it is hurting us profoundly.
Don’t you tire of the excuses for inaction? Doesn’t the hypocrisy of tough-talking figures who fear poor report cards from lobbyists look puerile? Aren’t you exhausted by the efforts made to avoid even the most modest proposals to gun laws? How does a nation filled with bravado and awash in weaponry cower over legislation?
A version of the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned about has worked its tentacles into our homes, where we have stockpiles of guns locked in safes or displayed over mantles.
There’s money in arms, and war profiteers abound. Be less worried about patriots who wrap their flag around gun ownership, and more concerned about those who wrap their wallets around the issue.
At what point will you care more? How many citizens are you willing to sacrifice, futures cut short, and traumas unleash before you decide to do something meaningful? When will you lead? And when will you hold leaders accountable?