Appalled? Yes. Heartbroken? How could we not be? Surprised at the mass murder of 58 country music concert goers in Las Vegas earlier this week? No. The fact that there are people in our society who have the desire to cause mayhem on a massive scale is not new news. The fact that these people now have the means to do so is the changing variable. And we, as Americans in the society that we have created, are enabling them.
Evidently no one pays any attention to a rich old white man who wishes to assemble enough firepower to arm a National Guard regiment. He did it legally! But as with so many things in our hyper-litigious society, just because something is legal does not mean that it is necessarily moral. Nevertheless, we are the ones who set up the rules to make this possible.
The governing political party has gone to bed with a gun lobby whose strategy to promote the protection of what they perceive to be 2nd amendment gun ownership rights is to beat back furiously any and every attempt to proscribe those rights, however sane and common-sensical they may be. Introduce a bill to outlaw nuclear-tipped assault rifle ammunition - Damn those commies to hell - they are trying to take our guns away!!! Everything for these people is an onramp to the slippery slope of government agents showing up in the middle of the night to relieve you of your firearms. And to forestall that apocalyptic event from ever happening, everything must be allowed. EVERYTHING! You want a howitzer to round off your gun collection? Just get Amazon to deliver one to you by drone. You can already get pre-1986 machine guns if you have enough money. The day is coming, if one follows the logic, when you can get your own patriot missile system as well. And we will all want one. To protect us from that nefarious government of ours.
The claim that the government is going to take away our guns is specious. This will never happen. But even though this will never happen, this is the stick that is used to beat us all senseless. And we have become completely senseless on the issue of guns in this country. Go to any gun lobby - sponsored rally and you will hear the same discredited cliches tarted up for a new generation of proud American gun owners who just want to enjoy their constitutional rights. But dangerously, too many refuse to listen to any argument that does not line up with their presuppositions. The moral contortions thus produced are worthy of a county fair freak show, if there was anyone left to care about morality. It has become all about getting what I want, and protecting my right to get want I want at all costs. The constitution is, among many things, a document that seeks to chart a course between the rights of the individual and the needs of the community. But in this case the pendulum has swung itself into low earth orbit on the individual rights side, and today (and in fact every day when it comes to the unnecessary insanity of gun violence) the needs of the community are buried with every gun death funeral.
Americans, we have set up our society to be precisely like this. And because we value abstract ‘rights’ more than real human lives, we will continue to witness people with guns taking more and more American lives. We are the ones who are doing this, enabling this. And this - what happened in Las Vegas - is neither the last time this will happen, nor the worst it will be. This is appalling. This is insane. This is heartbreaking. But it should not surprise anybody.