Season of the Gun

Where were you on Friday, November 22, 1963?

I was a second-grader in St.Benedict’s School, playing at recess when a boy ran up to me and said, “The President’s dead! He got shot!”

Then he pointed his finger at his temple and laughed.

We lined up, boys and girls separately, and went back into class. The nuns were perturbed. The nuns were inscrutable women swathed in black with only their faces and fingertips showing. They had a short fuse and flew into rages frequently and randomly, so in my child’s mind there was no way to understand that the assassination of President Kennedy was more unusual than any other unpredictable event that might set them off.

I walked home, and mentioned it to my mother, who fell to the couch in utter shock. For the next few days, my mother sat glued to the set, weeping as her handsome, first Catholic, Irish-American President was buried in the ground.

There were other assaults on Democracy, and martyrs to the cause of justice in that time.

June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers shot outside of his front door, with his wife and little children as horrified witnesses.

September 15, 1963, four little girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, murdered by domestic terrorists in opposition to rule of law and civil rights.

February 21, 1965, Malcolm X shot because he he had a wider vision of racial equality than the Nation of Islam would tolerate.

April 4, 1968, The murder of Martin Luther King. I had recently read a book about him from the library. I was saddened by his death, and said so to a classmate. “We’re white. You have to stick up for your race,” she said.

June 6, 1968, Robert Kennedy took up the torch of his martyred brother and had just won the California primary. He was out front in the Democratic run for the presidency, when a bullet ended those hopes.

George Wallace, shot and paralyzed by Arthur Bremer on May 15,1972. He was taking his second run at the presidency on a racism lite platform. Put in a wheelchair for life. George Wallace committed crimes against humanity, but I wouldn’t wish paraplegia on a dog. Better he were tried in the court of democracy than that democracy be wounded by a failed assassin.

September 5, 1975, Gerald Ford is in the sights of Squeaky Fromme, a Manson Family disciple with a gun. She fortunately fails in her attempt to murder the President. September 19, 1975, a secret service on high alert foils a second attempt.

March 6, 1978 Larry Flynt, (a boil on the body politic whose contribution is only that his Supreme Court case affirmed freedom of speech for people who have something better to say), is paralyzed by a sniper. Words hurt, but putting a bullet into someone’s spine is an unforgivable violation.

March 30, 1981, John Hinkley tries to get famous by shooting President
Ronald Reagan. Reagan survives and recovers. His press secretary, James Brady catches a bullet in the head and is permanently disabled. His wife, Sarah advocates for gun control and becomes a political target of gun rights organizations.

We fast-forward twenty years, and the question for today is, “Where were you, on September 11, 2001?”

It’s not that our most visible public servants don’t live under threat. We assume that. We’re not some small-time country where our leaders can take the public transit and meet their constituency face to face without the guys in dark glasses and the wires in their ears.

We’re important. We’re advanced. We’re scared. Because any lunatic with a gun can murder a ten year old girl or a Federal Judge or their Congresswoman or the President if they just get lucky. We love our Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.

The First Amendment, read by Congresswoman Giffords in Congress this week, guarantees the right to peaceably assemble. In the real world of competing claims, will we decide that the Second Amendment protects the right to arm madmen and accept the carnage as an act of nature? Or will we come to an agreement to tone down the violent speech and demand that gun owners take responsibility for the power they can’t feel safe without– to take or destroy a life?

American Democracy has some bullet holes in it. Some deep wounds, some close calls– all harmed us. All violence against speech and Democracy leaves us more frightened and less free.

Gabrielle Giffords is not going to be fine. If she makes a miraculous recovery, she still suffered major brain trauma. One moment changed her from a public servant and mother of children to a woman clinging to life in a hospital bed. One act of malice from a young man with a weapon of mass destruction. I wish her the best but don’t be fooled. Brain injury has effects that devastate years after. Our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan know that well.

Now is the time to say, ‘never again’. Let those who think it’s glorious to wield a gun take the same place as child molesters in our public life if they ever fire that gun for any reason other than self-defense. Get real, and face the damage it does to the individual and society when a bullet cuts the flesh of a fellow-citizen. It’s a last resort, only justifiable to save a life.

In 1963, when we discovered that the President was only a man, who could be taken out by a sniper hiding behind a window, the Season of the Gun lasted twenty years. Let the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords be not the beginning, but the end. Let it stop now.

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21 thoughts on “Season of the Gun

  1. Lovely rant-yet most people who use firearms in an evil way are apolitical and probably never heard of Glenn Beck,Sarah Palin,or the NRA.They just blow away their girlfriends,rival gang members,convenience store clerks,or somneone who cuts them off in traffic.
    They are held accountable-they go to prison,and then some sob sister(can be a man too)liberal starts whining how they are gifted artists, or poets,or have something to offer society and bingo!-they’re out on parole where they can re-offend.
    My answer:If you use a firearm to commit a crime,you go to prison and rot for a long,long, time.Maybe for a REAL life term.
    having carried guns all my life since I was 18 and never having used one for anillegal reason,I very well understand the responsibility.We are each responsible for our own actions.No writer,or radio host,or talking head on TV is responsible.
    One exception:Religious leaders of any persuasion who preach violence, because some otherwise peaceful people can become imbued with a sense of righteousness for that type of action”.

  2. Maybe we should regulate bullets. Your vision of a country where there’s lots of gun crime but we put lots of people in prison does not sound like the country I want to live in.
    Who needs a machine gun for self defense?

    • I can’t think of a crime in the last 50 years committed with a legally owned machine gun.You have no idea what they put you through to own one.(I don’t want one,but apparently some people do.)
      The rgulating bullets scam was something the late Ted Kennedy was up to.Fortunately,it went nowhere.

      • Destructive devices have NEVER been considered as having any protection under the 2nd amendment.
        I think we have less political violence in the US than in other countries.
        Sweden,one of your kumbaya socially conscious paradises,had a prime Minister assassinated and they couldn’t even make the case.
        Nancy,My vision of the country isn’t my wish-it is reality based.Try it sometime.Drop the Stone Soup never never land thinking.I know you see real stuff every day,but then you go off on some hope for the impossible.

  3. If you consider the examples in my post, which is your history too, you will note that all those murders and shootings were political.
    The Sixteenth St. Baptist Church was blown up with dynamite. Maybe the second amendment guarantees that too.

    • See my comment above.
      You might want to ask your idol Bill Ayers about setting off bombs.
      No more cowardly crime exists.
      I noticed you conveniently skipped the whole litany of left wing terroruist bombings during the Vietnam War,the shooting of 5 congressmen and the murder of a White House policeman by Puerto Rican Nationalists,and later deadly bombings by the FALN.I guess those were beneath your notice.And don’t try to feign ignorance-you’re right-your ethics change by the minute.

      • so it’s all right then. everything comes out even and there’s nothing anyone can do.
        we don’t even know yet what motivated this murderer. we do know that the level of threat, under cover of free speech and gun rights, is rising. this could not end well, as we are seeing.
        I think you are premature in making your defense of this shooter as right wing. He may be a truly insane man following the pattern.

  4. Funny, that you remember a kid laughing at the assassination of JFK. I also remember a student laughing and reciting a little rhyme: Kennedy’s dead,He’s got three bullets in his head. I was in the fourth grade I believe at the time. I remember that we were all sent home from school early, I think, around one P.M. instead of the usual three p.m. time.
    The threats against Kennedy and the accusations that he was a communist made by conservatives back then were identical to the crazy pronouncements that conservatives make today, only they didn’t have a major network broadcasting them 24/7 and they didn’t have 1000′s of radio stations repeating them back then.

  5. Yes. We were Irish Catholics, so Kennedy was our President, but he also continued civil rights policies, and that outweighed the Irish pride for some people who were more identified with white pride. In Dallas he was seen as a race traitor.

  6. Nancy-did you say I was defending the shooter?You are a liar and owe me an apology.How could I think ofdefending someone who did waht he did?
    And I never suggested he was right wing.I think most likely he’s delusional.
    If you want me off your little blog,okay,but spewing out a lie about what I said is a pretty lowlife move.
    I believe the chucrch boming and Klan assassinations were right wing extremists and indefensible.You just have a weepy little love affair with anything leftists seem to do.”Oooh,they’re oppressed freedom fighters”,etc.
    Spoiled rich scum like Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were sure oppressed I guess.

  7. I did not express myself well, and I don’t think you support violent crime. I do get tired of hearing about other political violence like it proves some kind of point. What is your point? That it all comes out even?

    • No-not “even”-what would that be?Just that,like intelligence, evil behavior is pretty well universally distributed-brand name matters not.

  8. Larry Flynt’s a boil, huh? I don’t care for porno but this guy transcended the title “pornographer”. He stood up when the rest of us were content to sit on out butts. A few more like him and we might get out of the gun-totin’ let’s kill’em all culture we’ve built for ourselves.
    Again, I don’t care for porno, but I dare “Ninjanurse” to go out and do even an 1/8th as much good as Flynt has.

  9. I do twice as much good on an average working day, but I appreciate that Flynt won a ruling for free speech, even if the speech is gross. That was the right call from the Supremes.
    The only time I ever felt sorry for Flynt’s evil twin, Jerry Falwell, was when I read the satire that was the issue in the case. It was unfunny and mean.

    • Jerry Falwell,unlike so many liberal phonies was honest enough to explain why he had gone into a faith based life.It was only by chance that I heard it because I was channel surfing and for somme reason I stopped because he was saying something that caught my attention.
      he related how both his father and grandfather were crooked,non-believing,moonshining corrupt sheriffs.
      He said he didn’t want to follow in their footsteps and I thought it rang true because who wants to say those things to the public about one’s family?
      Also,the left wing hated Falwell so viscerally that had he been a hypocrite like Ted Haggard or Jimmy Swaggart,he couldn’t have kept it hidden.
      Too may Americans are rapt by degenerate”stars” who treat relationships like toilet paper-disposable.
      I don’t listen to evangelists and i don’t pay attention to “stars”off the screen unless it has to do with their approach to their job.
      Actually,most of the actors and actresses I admire the most don’t pop up on TMZ.Or,I guess not,since I don’t ever watch TMZ.

  10. Nancy, I take your post for what it was – a deeply felt lamentation about political violence. The fact that guns are so easy to get is germane to your point. I don’t think it’s necessary for commenters to start name-calling just because you have liberal politics. It appears that the Tuscon shooter obtained his gun legally. Given what has already come out about him, that seems to be problematical.

    • It’s not name calling,and while I’m no Tea party member,I resent demonization of conservaatives when a psycho goes on a rampage.Conservatives support keeping firearms out of the hands of deranged people.The NRA supports such a law-Nancy just ignores whatever is said that doesn’t fit her vision of what certain people are supposed to believe.

  11. Maybe the bright spot in all this is that the rush to disown that assassin means that no one wants to be associated with his crime.
    Jessica Stern wrote a book about terrorism in its various forms.
    One strategy she outlines is to marginalize and discredit terrorists within their own society.
    Since this kind of mass shooting is a recurrent crime in ours, our task is to unite to condemn gun violence, so that fanatic or deranged individuals will not find a ready script to follow.

    • Mass shootings have taken place in a lot of locales.
      The consistent theme in almost all of them is some form of mental derangement or anger at the circumstances of the shooter’s life.
      Political motives are rare(but have occured)in these incidents.
      The government will not have an easy time convicting this individual of murdering a Federal judge unless they can prove he knoew the man was a Federal judge.After all,he was attending the meeting as a private citizen and constituent concerned about rising border crime.It’s unlikely he was rcognized by the shooter in hios official cpacity.
      The representatives’ aide might have been known to the shooter and they could proceed on that basis.
      Betetr off with a stste charge of murder(6 counts)and the death penalty.They actually do execute people in Arizona.Anyone who murders a child deserves it-I don’t care how much it creeps you out-if you kill a child on purpose,you die,period.

  12. Apologize for the cross-post from Anchor Rising here, but I can’t help that the media focus in this case is in all the wrong places:

    OK. I just found Loughner’s Youtube videos… The kid is tapped. Crazy. Loony as they make ‘em.

    He strikes me as a schizoid. He believes he is ‘conscious dreaming’. He believes he is permanently sleepwalking. He obsesses over numbers, and calls -time- a lie. He obsesses over ‘grammar’, but his mind isn’t functioning well enough to properly formulate English grammar. He talks about ‘currency’ and creating his own money (ostensibly, so he has all the power).

    Here’s the -most- coherent snippet from his ramblings:

    “In conclusion­­­, reading the second United States constituti­­­on, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratificat­­i­ons: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controllin­­­g grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God”

    This isn’t about Left or Right, or the rhetoric, or the intensity of the campaign season. This person was going to hurt someone or himself. He was likely hearing voices, living in a state of constant torment.

    Where the hell were his parents? This person could probably have been a productive member of society with a few dollars a day of anti-psychotics and Lithium.

  13. Apparently -I’m- not functioning at a high enough level to handle English grammar, either. I blame my tiny keyboard and eleven hours at the office, though.

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