Another mass shooting but I am loathe to mention this most recent one by name, since if I leave the specifics out of it, this essay will remain relevant for a very long time. At least until the next mass shooting happens and the one after that, and the one after that. For there will be a next one, without fail, if we don’t make changes.
In regard to this latest massacre, Stephen Colbert said, “one of the definitions of insanity is changing nothing and then pretending that something will change.” Since I’m not insane, I know if we change nothing, it will happen again. To expect any other outcome is to deny logic and reality, which I won’t do since I am a huge fan of logic and reality.
I’m also a huge fan of facts, statistics, data and research, something I feel the NRA really hates; for when you see the toll of gun violence in cold, hard numbers, it spurs you to take action. Take these cold, hard numbers from my hometown of Chicago: 2,347 shooting victims since January 1, 2015. This type of gun violence is often glossed over because it isn’t considered a mass shooting, when four or more people are shot. It’s pathetic that we have to classify gun violence into subcategories now, since otherwise we’re too overwhelmed to keep track of it.
And when we try to have a national conversation about gun violence, we’re told: Shhh, don’t talk about that. Deflect, distract—oh, look! A mentally ill person!!!
People, will you shut the hell up about mental illness in regards to these mass shootings? You’re not bringing it up in an earnest conversation in order to help the mentally ill. You’re only bringing it up to distract from the awkward conversation about guns.
It’s like when you hear a crash from the other room, investigate and find your kid standing over a broken vase with a basketball in their hands. The first thing they do is point at their sibling and say, “but he broke the lamp downstairs last week and didn’t tell you!”
Bringing up mental illness when we’re trying to discuss gun legislation is the same thing. It’s a talking point, a dog whistle, a way to change the conversation. “SO….how ’bout them Cubbies?” would be a more honest conversational detour when speaking about gun violence. At least you’re not pretending to actually care about the mentally ill.
If you did care about the mentally ill, you would know the facts are that the majority of mentally ill people are not violent.
You would know the facts are that the majority of gun violence is committed but non-mentally ill people.
You would understand the facts are that mental illness knows no national boundaries, yet we are the only country with this many gun deaths, even though every country also has mentally ill citizens.
Stop pretending to show compassion by bringing up the mentally ill, since true compassion goes far beyond words. It’s the difference between saying, “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” and “here’s a meal I’m dropping off for you, let me take over your carpooling duties and watch your kids while you take a nap.” If you’ve ever needed help in your life, you know which option is the one that is actually helpful.
Stephen Colbert said he doesn’t know what to do about this, but I’d like to suggest an unconventional idea. I propose that we act like Nelson from The Simpsons and start pointing and laughing, whenever the NRA speaks on the subject of gun violence. Every time they open their mouths to tell us how this huge national crisis isn’t really a crisis at all, point and laugh like Nelson: “Ha Ha!”
Yes, I know, we’ve all been taught to never point and laugh at someone because it’s rude, but come on, we are past the Miss Manner’s stage in this national nightmare. It’s so patently absurd whenever the NRA (or NRA-backed politicians) talk about why common-sense gun laws are a bad thing, we may as well laugh at their unintentional comedy routine.
There is power in truth and humor, so why don’t we use that as our tactic? They are using fear as a tactic: “arm yourselves! President Obama is coming for your guns! Buy more ammo! Give those anti-gun people an inch, they’ll take a mile and repeal the second amendment!!”
Let’s be subversive and turn this argument on its head: people should be embarrassed to be associated with something as silly as the NRA. They are not tough: they are the playground bullies, all grown up, but with their fly wide open and toilet paper on their shoes. Ha ha!
Why are we even letting them have a platform? Why are we even entertaining the thought that they are saying anything even remotely rational or fact-based? Enough of this! You don’t roll around in the muddy gutter with the NRA, you just point and laugh, point and laugh. While there is nothing funny about gun violence, these buffoons are patently ridiculous. They are clowns and we laugh at clowns.
Plus, they are a tiny, tiny vocal minority: 90% of Americans want common sense gun laws! Why are we letting this measly 10% of our nation dictate how we live? Why are we scared of the NRA? I had someone from my old neighborhood call me names in private messages on social media because I dared to post something about common sense gun laws. You think names will stop me??
That’s all the NRA is, but on a national level: immature weirdos who lived on your street growing up who now call people names online and try to intimidate you when you speak up about our national crisis. Ha ha!
So, when they say, after a mass shooting, “now isn’t the time to talk about guns,” we point at them and say, “Ha ha!” And then we talk about it.
When they say, “Guns don’t kill people! That’s like blaming spoons for making you fat,” we point at them and say, “Ha ha!” And then we say, hell yes, guns are killing people.
When they say, “criminals don’t follow laws anyway, so we might as well not make any new laws,” we point at them and say, Ha ha! And then we pass common sense gun laws anyway.
When a presidential candidate says “stuff happens” or “we need more guns in classrooms” in response to a mass murder, we point and say….no…wait.
I can’t even laugh at that. I say instead we shout, “get the hell off of the stage, you buffoons! Your Presidential aspirations are over!”
And whenever the NRA talks about blocking gun sense legislation, we point at them and say, Ha ha! (They really don’t like to be laughed at, but we don’t like to be shot at, either, so I guess we could call it even.)
And if you are a responsible gun owner, you should be leading this charge for common sense laws and NRA reform. Prove that not all gun owners are irresponsible! Prove that all NRA members are not heartless and cruel! Take back your organization that has been abducted by ridiculous, amoral thugs.
Prove that not all gun-owning white males are about to open fire in a classroom. Where’s your hashtage movement? May I suggest #notallwhitemenwithgunsaremassmurderers? Distance yourself from this circus! Join forces with the common sense gun law movement and show us what responsible gun ownership looks like.
And if you still don’t want change anything, then get the hell out of our way. Because we are making it happen. We will win. We will affect change. We will reform this madness. Otherwise, the joke is on you.