I've held off writing about the Newtown murders because I've been way too paralyzed with impotent rage about them. I wanted to calm down and process everything with a level-ish head. It's not just how any subhumanoid with a face can buy a Bushmaster rifle at a gun show. It's about the scourge of influence-peddling, the bare-bones budgets for treating mental illness, a glut of "information" that tends to entrench opinions rather than challenge them.
But it's still mostly about guns, dammit.
I haven't shot a gun since Scout camp more than half my life ago. I don't hunt, I don't practice at ranges, and I don't believe having a revolver in my house makes me any more safe. I also know half the country disagrees with me, and I'm really truly OK with the vast majority of gun owners who use and store their weapons safely and responsibly.
But you're never gonna convince me that the average American needs a semiautomatic with a 30-round banana clip in his closet. There's just too much data correlating fewer guns with less gun-violence. I also know that the status quo isn't working, and that resorting the same heated rhetoric, on both sides of the gun debate, will only ensure that the "Status Quo" will never be supplanted by "Quo Vadis?"
I know enough to know I need to know more. What I do know, though, is that I love how kids question things so bluntly, with a common sense unburdened by an awareness of humanity's inherent flaws and frailties. When Moxie and I took the boys to dinner for French Fryday last week, and we discussed what had happened in Newtown, the 10yo reacted with disgust: "This is the 21st century! Aren't things supposed to be fixed by now?"
He was likely motivated to say this because he and I had recently seen "Lincoln," when all those old-timey muttonchoppers didn't have electricity, and left mounds of severed limbs gathered from Civil War casualties in open pits, and carriage rides to the grocery store took a month and a half. We can equate the polarizing nature of slavery, and the terrible price we paid to "solve" it, with an ancient time, a century and a half ago, when we didn't know any better.
Plus, when you're a kid, it's easy to think that Now is the modern time, the pinnacle. We've survived conflicts and invented smart phones, and we've arrived, at the end. You can look back at the primitives carrying torches and marvel at how they ever got by in the world.
Movies like Lincoln help us realize that humanity, and the challenges of our society and politics, haven't changed. People (all of us, not just the half of the country that you disagree with) are just bigger-brained, less-hairy animals, who can be too proud, too threatened, too obstinate, too righteous, too pedantic, too underinformed, too unwilling to listen, too easy to anger, too mistrustful of others' motives.
Too determined to stick to our guns.
I hope we can finally--after however many gun deaths we've had to endure--find some headway to keep people from being slaughtered so senselessly. I want to believe this is the tipping point that brings to the forefront the need to find compromise for some gun reform. But I'm skeptical, because we're the same now, as we were then. The torches we carry might help us talk with someone around the world or find a neighborhood Thai restaurant, but we're still human.