I cannot let Richard Martinez stand alone. He talks powerfully into a microphone on the occasion of his son’s violent death to an angry young man who went on a murder spree in Santa Barbara. Martinez blames the National Rifle Association for normalizing mass gun deaths and “craven politicians” who will do nothing to stop it.
Martinez says with rage and passion that “You do not think it will happen to you until it does.”
The man who is believed to have killed Martinez son, Christopher did not even know his victim. He wrote in a manifesto that he was angry and lonely, a virgin, and that as a result he would perpetuate a murderous rampage.
Does anyone think his actions are unpredictable? Do any of us suppose this is even unusual? There is a profile: white, male, young, often of privilege, lonely,misunderstood, armed with at least one gun.
Don’t we want to ask what in our culture is creating these young men? Do we really want to pretend that these young men are so unlike our own sons or ourselves?
We live in a “zombie apocalypse” world where young people are fascinated by the walking dead, I think because it is art imitating life. We are becoming the walking dead, disassociated through technology so that we do not look at each other, wear ear buds so we do not hear one another or make ourselves even marginally available and tap away at blue screens.
We do not have the benefit of meeting a stranger, having to socialize when uncomfortable, having to stretch in order to live up to what we are naturally–social animals. We do not have to feel anything or emote so long as we can type or work a video game.
We are isolated from the truth that human animals evolved with the necessity for living as a tribe which requires feeling for each other. To survive we evolved to love and feel compassion. If you mess with that, you are flying in the face of your nature. You cannot de-evolve so you remain out of odds with yourself until the confusion turns to anger and that anger turns to violence.
Now we take that kid who doesn’t know why he is so lonely and angry (his parents mindlessly put a video screen in his car, backpack, bedroom and hand and thought the machine would raise him)but he knows he is disenfranchised and has no one he can talk to because he has never learned how to really talk to anyone or be heard and we give him means and opportunity by putting a gun in his hand, a semi-automatic even so he can be the video game hero he’s been fantasizing about.
Then we blame that child and describe him as crazy. His parents hide and they also grieve. They did not know this would happen. They didn’t see it coming or by the time they did it was too late.
We are placing the blame in all the wrong places.
Here’s one: me. I am to blame. So are you. What have we done personally to stop the insanity of disenfranchised boys and young men who we let down with our cultural obsessions and status around technology?
What have we done personally to fund public education to restore school counselors, nurses, teachers aides, smaller classrooms so these kids could be seen somewhere, by anyone?
What have we done personally to encourage our fellow parents to unplug their child, to go back to “boutique” parenting where the job is hands on talking, listening, hugging, reading to from a book with your child curled up, dinners at the table and no gaming, cell phoning or computer using without those things first and foremost?
What have we, you and I, done personally to push for gun legislation? I am so tired of the mamby pamby language around this; “common sense gun legislation” or this line; “I am a proud gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment but I think it’s time to consider some tougher legislation to prevent the mentally ill from having guns.”
Okay Einstein how are you going to know if someone is mentally ill, as in a violent killer, before they act on the impulse? Did any of these guys who went on a “murderous rampage” have anything in their files to stop them from getting a gun? Doubtful. One of them used his moms weapons stash. This is just more dialogue to sound like something is being done when it’s not.
The NRA deserves credit. They are transparent. They’d like to see every American armed to the teeth with as many guns as they can fit in their house, car, purse and pants. They would like these guns to be as expensive as possible. They do not operate in secret and they are unbowed and unafraid.
They trot out the Second Amendment even though most of their supporters have actually never read it and don’t know what a militia is. But that’s not the NRA’s fault. I’m not sure what a band of militia men who have been shooting unarmed woodland animals and targets while drinking beer is expected to do against a military which outspends the rest of the world and can lay waste to country’s full of armed people who will die for their god, but the NRA has told these fellows they can do it–they believe it.
The other favorite of the NRA is; “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” For those who say it, it is supposed to be the profound argument stopper. It’s supposed to be Cryptonite for liberals. But the sad truth is; Guns do kill people when they are held by people who fire them. Guns also kill people when the dog jumps in the back seat of the truck and accidentally hits the trigger (you’d be shocked how many times this has happened), guns kill people when small children think they are toys, guns kill people when they are mishandled like the fellow who used his automatic as a cane to rise from the couch and killed a five year old girl sleeping upstairs. His carelessness ripped through her and yet he spent little time in jail.
Guns kill people. Guns are invented to kill. They are only “protection” because you intend to fire them into the soft flesh of another human being because you perceive he is a threat. He does not have to actually be a threat, like the guy who killed his teen neighbor by shooting him point blank under the fog of dementia, you just have to convince the authorities that you think he was a threat..aka..Trayvon Martin.
Those who want actual gun legislation are afraid to speak, bowed by our desire to maintain connection. Let’s come out of the shadows now for our kids and the kids of NRA members. Let’s do the right thing which says no one, not one person really “needs” a semi automatic weapon, not one person needs more than one or two weapons and anyone who takes the life of another, for any reason-accident, perceived threat- ANY reason will have a trial where he must prove his innocence. If the death of another is an accident as in vehicular homicide, there will be jail time and a denial of the right to carry a gun from that time forward. If your gun is used by a minor, you’re most likely going to jail and if your gun is used in the commission of a crime you will suffer fines and possible prosecution for negligence. If you are a gun owner you must carry insurance in case of injury as we do in order to drive a car.
If you’re a “responsible gun owner” none of this should phase you.
I apologize to Richard Martinez for my failure to raise my voice. I apologize for not writing to my representatives, for not picketing, for not demanding the school board dig deeper for public education. I apologize for not saying more about the “Zombie Apocalypse” technology is bringing. But, I am saying it now and I won’t stop saying it.