Killing with Apathy

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I like guns. I like shooting targets. I like shooting bottles. I like gunfights in movies and on TV. I have only ever fired a real gun once, a .22 calibre rifle, when I was eleven or twelve years old. I understand that there are bad people in the world and sometimes when someone bad can no longer be reasoned with there are few options; all of them violent. I have played violent video games since I was eight years old. I saw my first R rated movie when I was ten.

What does any of that signify? Am I one bad event away from snapping and laying waste to those around me? Am I a rational person who just likes violent entertainment?

As a Canadian I can’t claim to fully understand the fervour for guns that some Americans feel. There are Canadians who love guns, who believe in guns the way that ardent gun supporting Americans do, but even most of them shake their heads at the way things are being handled south of the border.

I’m not one to get involved with issues or, talk about them, really. Most of the time I feel that issues that are issues are pretty common sense and the only reason there isn’t a solution is due to idiots who like to disagree for their own personal idiot-reasons.

At this point what is there to say? About guns? About mental illness? When does ignoring common sense become something that even registers and is just the norm?

In 1963 the President of the United States of America John F. Kennedy’s head was blown off by a solitary man with a rifle and dubious mental standing. Two days later that solitary man was himself shot and killed on live television.

In 1965, in a room of hundreds, three men opened fire on Malcom X as he readied to address those gathered with words.

In 1968 a single rifle shot tore through Martin Luther King, Jr. and the whole of the United States. Two months later Robert F.Kennedy, brother of a slain President, was also shot and killed by a lone man with a revolver and dubious mental standing. The shooting was recorded on audio tape by a freelance newspaper reporter, and the aftermath was captured on film.

In 1975 two separate women attempted to shoot and kill President Gerald Ford. One of the women, an associate of Charles Manson, was close enough to shake Ford’s hand. The other managed to get a shot off which was fortunately deflected when a bystander grabbed the woman’s arm.

In 1978 an upstanding city official in San Francisco, Dan White, who had lost his job returned to his place of business, City Hall, and proceeded to shoot and kill the Mayor of San Francisco George Moscone and another city official he had had frequent disagreements with Harvey Milk.

In 1980 one of the world’s greatest songwriters John Lennon was brutally shot in the back four times by Mark David Chapman. A man of dubious mental standing.

In 1981 John Hinckley, Jr. nearly gunned down President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley shot three other men before hitting Reagan with a single round from his revolver which stopped just an inch from the President’s heart. One of the other three men shot by Hinckley was White House Press Secretary James Brady. As a result of the shooting Brady was physically disabled giving him slurred speech and partial paralysis that required the full-time use of a wheelchair.

In 1986 fourteen people were cut down mercilessly at a post office in Oklahoma by a former employee with three handguns and dubious mental standing.

In 1999, the before I started high school, twelve high school students and one teacher were callously slaughtered by two teenagers with shotguns and semi-automatic handguns and dubious mental standing.

In 2000 a six year old boy brought a .32 calibre handgun he had found at his uncle’s house to school. He shot and killed classmate Kayla Rolland in the presence of a teacher and twenty-two other students. Before pulling the trigger the boy told Kayle, “I don’t like you.”

In 2002 seventeen people were viciously cut down from afar by a pair of men with a father/son dynamic and dubious mental standing.

In 2007 thirty-two people were shot and killed on the campus of Virginia Tech by a mentally ill student with two semi-automatic handguns. The attack is the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history and one of the deadliest by a single gunman worldwide.

In 2012 twenty elementary school children and six teachers were shot to death  by a semi-automatic rifle and handgun by Adam Lanza. A man of dubious mental standing. Prior to the shooting at the school Lanza killed his own mother by shooting her in the head four times.

These are merely the incidents that stand out to me when I think of the United States and gun violence. There are dozens, hundreds, more. This doesn’t even factor in incidents that involve the police as the shooters; incidents that are as much about America’s problems with race as they are about guns. These are all taken alone; terrible, horrible, stupid, shitty events that arguably were all preventable. Any single one of the above events would be cause enough for a nation to pause, reflect and maybe start to think about revising its perceptions of, and stance on, firearms.

Sure some of these unnecessary bloodbaths led to minor changes in certain gun policies in some jurisdictions but overall nothing has changed. “What’s it going to take?” That’s what everyone always asks after carnage like this happens. Rather than, “Okay. That’s enough.”

I don’t know if I’m being too blunt on some of these points. Maybe instead of tiptoeing around these kinds of things we should be blunt? Maybe if these public displays of violence were public displays of sexuality people would actual stand up and enact change?

I may enjoy themes of a violent and bloody nature in films and television but this is probably due to the fact that my life has been one of relative calm. Free of its own violence, physical or otherwise. I understand that the violence I see onscreen is not real, however intense or realistic it may appear. No one is hurt; it’s just a movie. Not so with the live on-air shooting of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward in Virginia. I have not watched any of the footage or heard any of the audio from the assault. It troubles me to watch something wherein another human being dies; be it from natural causes, accident or a heinous and undeserved violent act. It troubles me personally to watch what amounts to a snuff film and it makes me feel disrespectful to have invaded a moment which should belong to the dying.

I don’t need to watch two young professionals doing their jobs being cut to pieces by bullets. I don’t need to see it to know that it’s wrong. I don’t need to see it to know that it shouldn’t have happened. I don’t need to see it to know that change needs to happen. I don’t need to see it.

I don’t need to see it.

I don’t want to see it.

You don’t want to see it.

You don’t want it.

You don’t.

You.

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