Saturday, July 21, 2012

Questioning and Confused

image: wikipedia
Everybody's talking at me. 
I don't hear a word they're saying,

Harry Nilsson sang that song, and I often think about it whenever the television talking heads begin to speculate. And so it goes with the theater shootings in Colorado. However, with Facebook and Twitter, we can all add to the noise without waiting for a television camera to appear, without knowing anything other than what we think.

The casualties are real in Colorado. Real people died. Real people grieve over loss. The lives lost are far more valuable, far more precious than empty speculation on the page, speculation that in itself seems a travesty and yet we who speculate feel compelled to do so, speculation that in some way demeans what has happened to innocent people.

Whatever word we want to use—tragedy, atrocity, mass murderer—any argument post-shooting eventually divides itself into two camps: gun control advocates and Second Amendment purists. As for me, far away from the carnage, a man who presently does not own a firearm, a person who believes that the meaning and intent of Second Amendment (however it applies after our evolution from an agrarian society in 1776 to a post-industrial, technology society of 2012) is being twisted by the pretzel logic of the NRA, I only end up questioning and confused.
  • What is it in the American psyche that makes the firearm so compelling to misfits and those with mental problems?
  • Why does no one in the media know the difference between a semi-automatic rifle and an assault rifle.
  • Does anyone remember that a shotgun (also carried by the Colorado assassin) is far more deadly at close range than a rifle?
  • Why do firearm control purists, advocates of complete gun control, believe disarming the population will be effective in the USA when we see reports from former police states with every government rebel carrying an AK-47?
  • Why do Second Amendment absolutists—A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State—believe that a majority of citizens armed with assorted rifles and other hand-held weapons would be able to resist the federal government's military forces armed with ships, aircraft, missiles, and armored vehicles?
  • If the Second Amendment is absolute, why does the NRA and others of its ilk not lobby for citizen access to weapons without restriction?  
  • Is the NRA (the National Rifle Association) an instrument of firearm and ammunition manufacturers and the NRA's interest in the issue is money (sustaining and growing the organization) rather than freedom?
  • Why do gun control absolutists do not understand the weapon used in Colorado and in other gun-killings are tools in the hands of the mentally ill?
  • Does that not mean our mental health system is the culprit rather than the availability of firearms?
  • How can we compel people like the shooter into treatment?
  • How can we deny firearms to the unfit and unstable?
  • Why did the fanatic use firearms when he could have killed more innocents had he planted his bombs in the theater rather than in his apartment?
  • Is there some reason other than an ingrained ethos with American culture that he chose firearms rather than following the example of other terrorists who employ bombs?
  • If advertising is meant to induce and persuade, should we not expect that entertainment filled with violence transported by the same medium will not influence the perception and use of violence by the same audience?
  • Will advocates of a more restrictive interpretation of the Second Amendment also lobbying for a more conservative approach to the free speech clause within the First Amendment?
  • Do the free-speech absolutists, those who preach that violence celebrated without restriction in entertainment, believe that fragile psyches will not act out simply because firearms are not available?


Maggie said...

Thanks for posting these. Some of your questions are the ones I've been asking. Some of them beautifully articulated things I didn't know I was thinking.

Does anyone still remember when a free press actually investigated the facts?

Gil said...

Investigate this fact... Harry Nilsson didn't write that song.

Gary Presley said...

Thanks, GIl. An erroneous and hurried assumption on my part, perhaps because the song is so much identified with Nilsson.

The songwriter is Fred Neil.