Commentary: Guns and Not all Roses

By David Summerfield

Until business suffers, the proliferation of guns and gun violence in this country will continue to spin out of control as well-meaning people and organizations continue to draw others out of their homes to attend mass gatherings, and this thoughtless greed by profiteers will continue set people up for slaughter by unhinged armed gunmen, acting alone or in gangs with weapons of mass destruction. Not even church or the grocery store is safefrom such indiscriminate mass shooting. Proper authorities should consider asking people not to gather, to stay home and not attend fairs, festivals, or sporting events, nor go to malls. Understandably, people will want to ignore such limitations on their freedoms. But that same authority should express how doing so puts them at risk, as looming over us all is this threat of becoming victim to mass indiscriminate slaughter. 
Moreover, we should ask why organizers, promoters, and retailers should even want to entice people into these largegatherings knowing the danger. The obvious answer, of course,is to make money, but the cost is lives lost, and the attitude that indiscriminate loss of life is not as important as making money should confound every decent thinking person. Likewise, we should ask why people continue to attend these sites of possible mass conflagration, thinking such carnage could never happen to them. Would it not be wise for authorities to issue some statement of caution as to threat level for becoming a victim of one of these shootings, similar to warnings not to travel to certain other countries? 
Unfortunately, the supreme court as well as state legislatures have flooded society with guns thinking more guns in the hands of the citizenry will make people safer, but such thinking has backfired when too many of the wrong people have access to guns through weak gun laws, and throwing money into that red herring of mental illness when mental illness is not the primary cause of gun violence in a society flooded with guns may achieve only the same result as seventy years of fighting the drug trade has, nothing. If anyone thinks that treating mental illness is going to stop this mass slaughter anytime soon, they would be better off now to invest in a well-stocked underground bunker, because the truth is we cannot absolutely identify who these killers will be, but with certain background checks, red flag laws, and weapons ban legislation now being proposed we could at least come directly at the problem with a new array of tools to stiffen gun laws and at the same time protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. 
And if we choose ultimately not to accept any recommendation to limit our gathering, the fact is we’ll eventually be driven from the public square anyway, either out of fear for our lives or by a declared state of emergency. But let’s assume for a moment ,we take seriously the threat and we do choose to limit our gathering, there’s no reason to believe these deranged killers will not seek to slaughter us anyway, somehow, en masse as we go about the daily errands and enjoyments of our lives, eventually stalking us into our neighborhoods to seek the highest concentration of carnage possible where we will have become prisoners in our own homes, and as this macabre process of copycatting and one-upping continues from one killer to the next at an ever-accelerating pace, it will become apparent that even as broad a freedom as the second amendment must have some sensible limit when we no longer feel safe in our homes, schools, and communities. Yet, none of this will move the needle, only a suffering economy, and not the horrific loss of life, will demand that lawmakers compromise and finally enact solutions through results-focused bipartisan dialogue. Only businesses losing money will force the courts and legislators to talk, accept obvious solutions, no matter how difficult, and perhaps the NRA will be forced to accept a more limited interpretation of the second amendment as well. 
But there has never been a time when so many of the wrong kinds of guns are in the hands of the wrong kinds of people legally, and most frightening is the inherently blind lethality utterly incapable of knowing the difference between right and wrong which results from the use of guns fueled by alcohol and drugs. Legislators have made too many assumptions about the goodness of the people they’ve imbued with the right to carry around openly these instruments of death, calling it the right to self-protection as if we were still living in the old American west. 
If we were to compare this coming plague of mass destruction to the recent covid pandemic the only difference will be issuing each man, woman, and child a bullet-proof vest instead of a mask. Everything else will be the same, to self-isolate and avoidgathering, to procure necessities only when there’s the least concentration of people, such as nights and mornings. As before, those able to work from home will have an advantage as front line and essential workers will have no recourse but to work exposed to keep the wheels of society turning, simply because they have no other economic resource. And as before, only when businesses start to suffer will this waste of human life come to an end and legislators act as they did with Operation Warp Speed to provide legislation necessary to mitigate the threat, and only when businesses begin to suffer again as this problem of indiscriminate gun violence explodes will legislators act to provide proper legislation to include universal background checks, the banning of assault weapons, and the enactment of red flag laws, allowing people to return to the public domain with some sense of renewed security, because a massive infusion of government money into the alternative argument of treating mental illness will not solve the problem.
Is it alarmist to have taken this position? We’ll have to wait and see. But only when people have stayed home out of fear or protest and businesses are forced to close when the bottom falls out of the economy and only the gun manufacturers are left standing, will there be a coming together to find a solution. Is this argument overstated, elevated to hyperbole? Only if you think such mass indiscriminate slaughter could never happen to someone you love.

David Summerfield’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photo art has appeared in numerous literary magazines/journals/and reviews. He’s been editor, columnist, and contributor to various publications within his home state of West Virginia. He is a graduate of Frostburg State University, Maryland, and a veteran of the Iraq war. 


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