Like the extreme Christians who make battle cries of “persecution” when one counters their oppression of equality for the LGBT community, gun zealots are again playing the victim in the wake of another mass shooting.
Last Friday, 22 year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in the beachside community of Isla Vista. Rodger’s campaign of death ended only after a self-inflicted gunshot, leaving six innocent lives lost and thirteen survivors.
By Sunday, memes like the one below were making the rounds on social media.
This meme is working overtime, seemingly incorporating every extreme gun advocate argument into less than 40 words. Naturally, it leaves out crucial facts. Let’s break down this electronic post-it note of stupidity:
“3 People With a Knife”: Rodger did kill his two roommates and a guest with a knife. However, it wasn’t due to a lack of firearm availability. If you read Rodger’s manifesto, the plan was not to draw attention to the apartment with gunfire because he planned on luring people inside to what would now be his “personal torture and killing chamber.”
“3 People With a Pistol”: including Rodger, 4 people were killed with a pistol. The meme also omits the 8 victims wounded by gunfire (I guess if you lived you don’t count as a victim of gun violence).
“In a Gun-Free Zone”: Rodger chose Isla Vista specifically because of the Alpha Phi Sorority, not because of a “gun-free zone” as this implies. Rodger was a woman-hating misogynist, whose ideology mirrored that of rape culture. He also chose Del Playa Street because of the “groups of popular young people.” At no point in Rodger’s 141-page manifesto does he even mention the term “gun-free zone.”
The one positive to emerge from this latest tragedy is the Twitter response initially launched by women: #YesAllWomen
The posts are frustrating, heartbreaking and above all else inspiring. I suggest everyone read it.
“In a Gun-Control State”: It is so highly controlled that an individual with a diagnosed mental illness can still legally purchase a firearm. Rodger had a prescription for Risperidone, an anti-psychotic medication, when he purchased his three guns. The state and the nation are far from having adequate gun control and background checks.
“It’s All the Fault of the NRA and Gun Owners”: The NRA plays a large supporting role in continuing to enable the mentally ill and criminals such easy access to firearms. Ultimately, the fault falls to our politicians in Congress that refuse to pass new gun regulations, many of who receive funds from the NRA.
In my 2013 entry The Way of the Gun, I wrote about the thirteen Republican senators who threatened to filibuster any new gun control legislation in a letter to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. All but one, Rand Paul, received money from the NRA. Sen. Paul counted his blood money from the National Association for Gun Rights.
The meme’s NRA remark was a direct reference to comments made by Richard Martinez (who did not blame gun owners), father of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, one of the slain victims.
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?!” Martinez asked during an emotional press conference.
“As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional right,” former McCain/Palin campaign-show pony and failed Republican politician Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher wrote in an open letter to Barbwire.
The true insanity of Wurzelbacher’s statement is that not a single piece of legislation supported by the current administration or the American people violates his Constitutional right.
Like the meme, which did not acknowledge the loss of life outside of playing a numbers game to service a viewpoint, Wurzelbacher proved to be just as soulless.
After the Port Arthur mass shooting in Australia, the country implemented new gun control legislation to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. Guess what? It worked.
Since 1996, Australia has not had a single massacre by firearm. To put that in perspective, the United States has had over 100 shooting incidents involving 4 or more victims this year, 12 of which qualify as mass murder.
Similar to the aftermath of Newtown, the majority of Australians favored new gun control legislation. Unlike our politicians, Prime Minister John Howard supported them.
I understand a large scale buyback program in the United States may not be as effective as it was in Australia, but there are components of their current laws that should be under consideration here.
- Private sales and transfers of guns are only conducted through a licensed firearm dealer.
- Gun dealers are required to keep a record of each gun and ammunition sale and/or transfer.
- Gun license applicants must pass a background check that checks criminal, mental and physical records.
- Can turn down an applicant with a mental condition that would be deemed “unsuitable” for owning a firearm.
- Each gun is registered to the owner by a serial number.
If enacted, not a single one of these provisions would prohibit a law-abiding/mentally stable American citizen from purchasing a firearm.
In the face of mass death, we are a nation continuing to do nothing. Let’s change that during the mid-term elections.