Necessary Roughness, Week 15: Will You People Quit Killing Each Other so I Can Enjoy at Least One Weekend of Football?
Sorry about the lateness of this column, but like many people out there I have spent a lot of the last few days with my head firmly up my ass trying to absorb and understand what happened in Newtown, CT last Friday morning. Thoughts of the upcoming match-ups and then the weekend action took a back seat to what had just occurred. I was listening to Jim Rome as the news came in. As the details became more clear I became even more horrified. It’s right up there with the shuttle crash, but it was no accident. This was not some ancient biblical tragedy, this was not young Darth Vader offing the Jedi Mouseketeers; it is living proof of man at his lowest and it’s a sad and tragic reflection on how fucked up things have gotten… in our lifetimes and in our country.
You could tell Rome, as a father, and hell, just as a human being, was having a hard time focusing on sports. Because finally, after years of leading up to it with slaughters in high schools, cafeterias, churches (and let’s not forget countless postal facilities), our country now has the singularly fucked-up distinction of being host to one the most heinous acts of violence ever perpetrated by a single person. A fucked up young man went berserk with no warning and used a completely legal and totally unnecessary firearm to slaughter 20 first graders, kindergarteners, and seven teachers.
If there is one good thing that can be gleaned from this tragedy it’s that it happened during our tenure on this planet, and leaves us in a position to do something about it. We absolutely cannot just sweep this under the rug. It’s time for the USA to join the rest of the civilized world and enact some gun control laws that actually mean something.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a semi-automatic AR-15 as much as the next guy. I enjoy going to the firing range and blasting away with an extended clip until the paper target (always seems to be Osama or a Zombie) is absolutely shredded. Then the gun goes in a locked safe (in a perfect world) and stays there until the next venture to the gun range. But that’s not enough. It’s time to get these military-style weapons out of people’s hands.
I’m all for the freedom to bear arms, but let’s remember that this statement was made hundreds of years ago, when we were carving out a country against a host of adversaries including giant bears and the people that lived here already, all the while trying to throw the yoke of oppression from a foreign country off of our backs. Things have changed. Nobody I know needs to own a weapon like that except for one reason… they are a cool toy to have. You don’t hunt deer with them. The high velocity of the rounds delivered makes them poor home defense weapons; the bullets just go through walls, killing neighbors along the way. A shotgun or a pistol will work fine for defending your castle, and they are much easier to handle just in case your wife or your kids have to save the day. I am calling for a complete ban on all military style weapons being available to the rank and file of our country.
Oh, I know! I can hear the gun collectors moaning and groaning and berating… and I don’t give a shit. Probably the most ridiculous argument I hear in favor of our armed nation is that we need the guns to overthrow the government just in case they get too oppressive. I mean, I actually heard a senator arguing this point. Do you actually think that a motley collection of militias and potential mass-murderers is going to have a chance against the world’s most powerful military? Give me a fucking break.
I live in Virginia, and often go to gun shows, and am appalled by the amount and variety of weapons available there. You see people from all over the country there, stocking up on weapons with gleeful smiles on their faces. It’s sad because the majority of gun owners in this country are responsible ones. They lock up their guns, fire them in legal ranges, and don’t murder children. But you know the saying, it only takes one asshole to ruin a party, and this party is ruined. I don’t claim to know what the answer is, but there has to be a change, because what we have going on is NOT working. But things have gone fucking far enough. We need to make a change and a national dialogue must begin until the pro-gun lobby sees the truth. We don’t need military style weapons in the hands of civilians. We need better mental health screening. And we need to stop making these decisions based on the whim of powerful lobbies who represent companies that are trying to make tons of money selling weapons of war; to civilians (the NRA being the biggest lobby out there). We need to do something or what next? I’m having a hard time figuring that out, because I can’t visualize anything more horrible than what happened last Friday.
To all of you responsible gun owners; does the joy your little toy gives you erase the feeling of loss and unspeakable tragedy that the irresponsible gun owners have left us with? It’s time to gather up all of these weapons and melt them into slag. At the same time we have to focus on our mental health programs so we can identify and help people who are potential psychopaths. In a world where the NFL is constantly looking for ways for the sport to be less violent, shouldn’t we be doing the same for the society our children are born into?
I’m sorry, I don’t much feel like writing about football. Out of respect to the victims of the Newton tragedy, I am skipping the traditional coverage. We’ll be back next week, unless of course some sicko shoots up a football game.