And our domestic battlefield is strewn with the bodies of little children. Some parents, and the Washington Post, decide it is time to show the carnage.
Thank you, James.
Thank you for stressing this so forcefully. It has to be read, as the Post article has to be read. I hope both will be. I think they will. Your article(s) should be required reading. Everyone should be talking about them and taking action. I am about to forward this to everyone I know.
Thank you for this history and context, Jim! I believe in tipping points. They come swiftly and unexpectedly, according to Malcolm Gladwell, and pieces like yours and The Post's can help get us there. It's time to hold the GOP accountable for this madness, and that's a role the press must take on with greater urgency. Their biggest weapon is their questions, and it's time for journalists to persistently ask much tougher ones, discern the public's framing of the issue and then represent it tirelessly until the tipping point is reached and the madness breaks. Every small step toward this goal matters.
In the early 60's just before prom season, the neighboring town would find the wreckage of the worst fatal car smashup they could, load it up and dump it in the town square for a few weeks, where all the traffic had to drive around it, and look at it, and feel it. As it happened, just about every wreck involved people we all either knew or knew of because of the news coverage. Of course the practice was controversial. Once, with our whole family in the car we passed through that town and the annual wreck and my dad slowed to a crawl going by. I was just shy my 16th birthday. He looked at me, but didn't say anything. But he knew I lost a good pal in that wreck. That was sixty years ago this month.
Reading about the wound ballistics made my heart sink. The Massie photo is beyond appalling. I am so glad the Washington Post and the victims' families are tackling this AR-15 sickness head on.
JIm yes the Post is to be saluted for its AR-15 project but, as those demented photos acompanying your piece make chillingly clear, this is a sick, sick country we live in and I doubt any journalistic effort, no matter how well done, can even begin to cure what ails us. The statistics tell the tale. More than 400 million gun owners in this country . . . . 20 million AR-15 style weapons in private hands . . . 500 companies manufacturing AR-15 style guns and accessories . . . As a Poynter Institute report put it last year, the AR-15 has become "the poster child" of right-wing advocacy of gun ownership. By now it has become only too clear that no matter how many children are slaughtered by wackos using this or other firearms, no matter how wrenching the stories their bereaved parents have to tell, no matter how upset the rest of us may be, it is too late to stuff this genie back into the bottle. Of course journalists should continue to keep this issue on the front burner and of course those who feel strongly about it should continue to push for change. But . . . profoundly depressing, this. At 85, I wish I could see a way out but I can't. Can you? Can anyone?
Not only should the A.R. 15 be banned, but the government should purchase all of the existing inventory as a matter of law
From Sarah Jones' substack at PoliticsUSA:
At every turn, the conservative movement is putting women and children in their crosshairs, enabling mass shootings in schools and domestic violence attackers to be armed with guns, at the same time as they are inciting their supporters to threaten violence against people with whom they disagree.
It has gotten so bad it is now identifiable as a voluntary violation of morals.
Moral depravity: “A state of voluntary violation of morals, values, customs, or manners leading to an aberrant style of personality commonly known as antisocial psychopathy."
I think "antisocial psychopathy certainly describes that piece of something I scrape off my shoe, Thomas Massie.
“… a former gun-industry official named Ryan Busse said that in those days, even within the industry “assault rifles and tactical gear were [seen as] a creepy, fringe interest that had no place in a complex democratic society.”
I was in the Marine Corps “in those days”, fired a (short-lived) record score with the then-new M14, and was an active big game hunter. At 82 now, I still own beautiful high quality classic sporting rifles. I have never liked the “fake macho” look of the quasi-military rifle and tactical gear. To this day, both disgust me. They were and remain a “creepy fringe interest”. They have limited sporting potential; there should be no place for them and their too-many-cartridges magazines in civilized society.
I've read other accounts of the destructive capacity for this particular weapon - as I recall, one was from a surgeon who had struggled to repair such damage. Unfortunately, these arguments are lost in the overall psychosis among a large portion of the American electorate that caused British columnist Dan Hodges to observe in his tragic tweet from 2015:
"In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over."
I distinctly recall the vote in the Senate not long after the Sandy Hook massacre, when senators openly and unabashedly caved to their NRA overlords, and then offered one pathetic, disingenuous excuse after another for their vote. Even the most watered down attempts to prevent the sale of guns to those who were likely to use them in mass shootings was voted down, mostly because the NRA wants absolutely no restrictions whatsoever on the sale of guns. The reason is quite simple: more guns = more profits for the gun manufacturers who fund the organization.
But the biggest problem is people like the congressman and his family shown in the photo: the "Charlton Heston crowd" that equates gun ownership with strength, courage, righteousness, and all that they believe is good about America. With this attitude, any and all attempts to restrict ownership and use of any gun at any time are viewed as attacks against the bedrock principles of American freedom, strength, and independence. It's like a yes vote to lock up Superman in a cell filled with kryptonite - how could anyone possibly be in favor of destroying "truth, justice and the American way"?
The greatest fear of gun safety legislation from the right is not that it won't work, but that it will. Because when such legislation does pass, and when gun deaths are reduced as a result, it might just put a crack in that façade of righteousness that has sustained the pro-gun movement thus far. And that is why it is so essential that we continue to work hard to support such common sense measures, and to hold our elected officials accountable when they refuse to support our efforts.
What I love about the Massie photo is the responsible-gun-owner trigger discipline they're all overtly manifesting with their trigger fingers alongside the barrel. Because it takes so long and such a conscious effort to move their finger to the trigger and send 900 rounds a minute into the bodies of schoolchildren and concert goers and grocery shoppers.
That Western conservative is right. We need to show the courage of Mamie Till. I am awed by the courage of the families of Noah Pozner and Peter Wang, and I hope this manifestation of their grief and rage has some effect on an oblivious Congress. We cannot continue this way.
“ AR-15s had become cult and tribal objects”
Yes, they are fetish objects.
I wonder if that makes ownership protected by the First Amendment?