Only in America do we tolerate the levels of violence and mass shootings that happen as a price for protecting certain parts of the Constitution…no other major industrialized country in the world has this toxic of an outlook on society; it’s as if we’ve somehow bought into the idea that we need firearms as a way to protect ourselves from every little problem that comes down the pike. Worse, as Bill Moyers points out from an essay he produced after the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting, Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns.
Think about that one for a moment when you’re with your children, readers…the toys they play with undergo far greater scrutiny than does the handgun you keep to protect them; shouldn’t it be the other way around? How many more tragedies do we have to endure before we as a country say, “Enough!” How much more blood has to be spilled before our elected officials look the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox and others and tell them to go take a flying leap; have we become so cowed by their threats and primaries that we’re unwilling to do what is right and needed?
As I thought more and more about this topic, a scene came to mind from the book “And The Band Played On” that immediately popped into my head as a framing device for this post. During the early years of the AIDS epidemic, there were calls for blood banks across the U.S. to begin screening blood & blood products in an effort to protect Americans from the spread of HIV. Predictably, the blood banks resisted such calls..and got an earful in response from one of the lead CDC scientists, Dr. Don Francis, who said the following at a CDC-sponsored blood bank conference….
“How many have to die?” Francis shouted, his fist banging the table again. “How many deaths do you need? Give us the threshold of death that you need in order for us to believe that this is happening, and we’ll meet at that time and we’ll begin to do something.”(pg.220, CDC-Atlanta)
In a sense, that is a question we as Americans must ask not only the NRA and their sycophants, but their supporters and every pro-gun elected official in sight..how many more Sandy Hooks, how many more Auroras’, how many more Tucsons’, do we have to have before we can begin to have an honest conversation over gun violence in this country? Or is the 2nd Amendment so damned sacrosanct that we can never have this conversation? Tell us that, pro-gun lobby, with a straight face…or has there been enough blood already?