Does Anyone Have “Bingo!” Yet?

  • Homegrown
  • Legally acquired firearms
  • workplace-related violence
  • foreign national
  • quiet type neighbors didn’t expect this of
  • IEDs
  • assault-style weapons
  • Islamic
  • “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families”

Does anyone have “Bingo!” yet?

On what planet, in what country, is shooting up more than two dozen people at a workplace holiday party acceptable? Is this what the NRA means by “a well-regulated militia”? Is this what the authors and ratifiers of the Second Amendment meant by “a well-regulated militia”? (Go ahead, someone has “slippery slope” on their Mass Shooting Bingo card and needs you to say it.)

There have been one or two times when I have fantasized about the death of a co-worker, such as a mid-level manager responsible for some policy I thought was asinine and actively harmful. Never have I wished ill upon a dozen coworkers or more, let alone thought about how I might accomplish that, let alone started to carry that out. I’d say it’s inconceivable, but clearly it isn’t for some others, and, besides, I hate having The Princess Bride quoted to me.

It’s depressing, though, that this happens. “I think I’ll kill a dozen or more people today, after I leave the baby with my mother.” Adding the wife to the equation (assuming the husband was the instigator, which seems reasonable based on what we think we know) just magnifies the unreasonableness of this. “Two kids killed thirteen people at Columbine High school sixteen years ago, so clearly there’s precedent,” said no one, ever, one would think. Except that, whether they were thinking of Columbine or not, the parallels are there.

Yes, this upsets me. I’ve already had a mostly-civil on-line discussion with a former co-worker’s sister(-in-law?) about whether the actions of a few (hundred shooters since January 1, 2015) should justify taking away her right to bear the arms of her choice. I remember dropping a friend from Facebook when he was vocally resentful of the possibility after Sandy Hook that someone might want to confiscate or restrict his freedom to use his expensive AR-15. Wouldn’t you pay a few hundred dollars to reduce gun violence in America? What, you say? It might not work? We won’t know until we try it, will we?

The NRA and other gun advocates are fond of arguing that a good guy with a gun is the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun. I think of the adult who gets horribly upset with his or her spouse or partner and has access to a handgun, kept relatively easy to reach in case of a home invasion. Will they have enough self-control not to reach for that handgun while livid over what was just said? Will a good guy with a gun become a bad guy with a gun in a moment of anger? “Oh, I keep my guns locked up, as the law requires.” Well, how will you reach it if you need it to stop a bad guy?

I feel my thoughts aren’t well organized, that they’re not lining up neatly so I can express them well. I hate that. But I hate so much about the past twenty-four hours. I hate so much about the past 332 days. I hate so much about Columbine, and Aurora, and Sandy Hook, and Santa Barbara, and Charleston, and now San Bernadino. I’d say, “It’s a good thing that I’m not armed,” except that even if I was, I know I’d never act on these strong emotions. I outgrew that years ago. “If you see something, say something!” makes no allowance for dry senses of humor. “I heard him joke about things like that a few times,” usually implies, “and I know him well enough to know he was never even remotely serious,” except that zero tolerance makes senses of humor dangerous in their own way. “He was such a quiet, withdrawn type. I never imagined he could so something like this.” So, my anger and bewilderment can’t ferment into humor, so I rant here and hope that works. But, I digress….

When will the rest of America outgrow such violent outbursts? What will we do to mitigate the risks until we do?

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