Digital Diary – The Machine

Something is very wrong.

For some, the answer is simple. No guns, no shootings. Seems to work for other countries. Or, just arm the teachers. Or, just screen gun owners better. Or, just put metal detectors everywhere.

For others, it is more complicated than that. Ban guns? Fine; ban hammers and cars and bats too. Ban anything that can be weaponized because a nutjob is going to be about it no matter what is at their disposal. The ongoing hesitation to inhibit the constitutional right to bear arms is a regular theme too.

Folks, we have exceeded critical mass. Shootings are normal now.

Normal.

Shit, in the last fifty years of U.S. mass shootings, as of last November, “1 in 8 [take] place at schools,” according to a Washington Post article. One in eight. Based on the records kept by Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been eighteen events in or near schools involving gunfire this year already.
Article: Mass Shootings in America

Doesn’t that scare you? Sure scares the shit out of me.

Yesterday, Baltimore City’s longest homicide-free streak ended—it lasted twelve days. There was a shootout at NSA this morning, not ten miles from where I work. Then, just a few, short hours later, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a mass shooting occurred. As I am typing this, at least seventeen people are confirmed dead. The scene of children running toward officers and barricades with their hands up in the air is seared in my brain. Someone commented on the NBC live feed—I shit you not—that we should boycott schools until the shootings stop.

Floored.

Boycott schools? Not semiautomatic weapons. Not the NRA’s unethical standards. Not the mismanagement of the mentally insane or the poisonous culture that indoctrinates violence, hatred and intolerance—especially in our young people. Just, you know, education in general.

Because an uneducated populace isn’t dangerous at all?

But after the suspected shooter was arrested and I drove home, I poured a vodka and began to understand where the commenter may have been coming from. If they won’t ban semiautomatic weapons, if they can’t ensure the safety of our students, if they won’t get serious about this excessively fatal problem, then maybe rebuild the machine. One piece at a time. I value education too much to advocate a sweeping boycott of the public education system–even if I hold reservations on that system as it exists today–but I am moved by the sentiment. I recall Mario Savio’s impassioned speech outside Sproul Hall in December of 1964:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Americans should be free to attend school, a music festival, a nightclub, and their job without fearing assault weapons. The accessibility of semiautomatic guns for civilian use is unnecessary and unethical.

We need to have some serious conversation about their accessibility.

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