“Here’s the smell of blood still…”
And so, another one…
Lafayette joins Charleston, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech and many other names that have come to signify something as American as apple pie.
These names paint pictures in our heads as singular to our nation as those of Norman Rockwell. These pictures, when together, form a photo album whose dates are inked in blood.
Who are some of the makers of this album?
Naturally John Hauser, the perpetrator of last Thursday night’s movie theater shooting that left two people dead and nine others injured. Also James Holmes, recently declared guilty of the massacre at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater three years ago.
But there are others that helped bind this album together. The blood shed at those movie theaters, and in so many other locations, stretch outside and beyond, all the way to the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Does Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal taste the iron on his lips when, in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, he says now is “not the time” to discuss gun control?
Does Hillary Clinton smell it in the air when, speaking on the need for stricter gun laws, she makes sure to acknowledge gun ownership as “part of the fabric of many American communities?”
What of the Capitol itself? In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings — you remember: 20 six and seven year olds dead in ten minutes — were the walls not made crimson when the gun lobby and its allies put their precious idol over slaughtered babies?
This is the America we live in, and the shots continue to ring out.
To some, the response is, naturally, horror. To others, many of them puppets of the NRA, they cling harder to their idol, the gun.
They say more guns: guns in movie theaters, guns in schools, guns everywhere. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Those individuals have made a moral choice. It is grimly amusing that they appear to hold no empathy for the lives of dead children, for the mindset of a gun lobbyist or enthusiast and a kid is so similar. Both love their precious toys. Both hold desperately to those toys. Both see any sort of rule placed on their toys as just one step towards having them all taken away. Don’t tell a kid to put away his toys, not even for a minute. Don’t tell a kid he can only play with his toys after homework. For that kid, it all means the same thing: ‘you’re trying to take my toys.’
Gun nuts are the same. Any regulation on guns is seen as an attempt to take away all guns. These same people who feign outrage at the loss of an embryo, those same individuals who want to investigate Planned Parenthood over a misleading video, will let classrooms of kids perish before they relinquish their right to bear arms (which, of course, has not been put on the table).
Not since the days of Reconstruction and Jim Crow, when black bodies hung often from Southern trees and not one federal law was put in place to stop it, has the moral rot, greed and cowardice of this country been so spectacularly put on display.
Other countries, from Canada to Norway to Sweden, have experienced a gun massacre, and they have taken the necessary steps to make another less likely to happen.
Only in America, the gun capital of the world, has this not been so. We should be appalled. We should be ashamed. We should rage through our tears. “It ought to obsess us,” President Obama said after the Navy Yard shootings in 2013.
That shooting seems so long ago; there have been four more since then. And still we hear the same lies: that the 2nd Amendment protects not only militia, but any nut from giving up his guns. They say more guns equals less crime, and that stricter gun laws have no effect on gun violence, the sort of logic that, if applied to anything else, would be blatantly ludicrous.
This photo album of carnage will gain more entries. Of that there can be little doubt. Those who would let it happen, those who we can only label as accessories to murder, have chosen their side.
So we must choose ours.