A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
On March 16, Robert Aaron Long 21, walked into Big Woods Goods in Holly Springs, Ga in Cherokee County and purchased a 9mm gun. Georgia’s no wait gun laws allowed him to quickly go about his business for the day. From there he hopped into his black 2007 Hyundai Tucson and headed out to visit three different Asian spas. When he was finished with his business eight human beings would no longer be joining their families for dinner.
Six days later Ahmad Al Alii Al-Issa, also 21, walked into a Kings Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado with a Ruger AR-556 pistol as well as a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and an “armored” vest. While others shopped, he hunted. When he was finished ten more souls were added to America’s ledger of gun grief. He purchased the Ruger on the same day that Robert Long turned in his bloody days work in Atlanta. The weapon was sold to him legally, despite his previous conviction for third-degree assault which under Federal law only qualifies as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Misdemeanors with prison terms of less than 24 months do not disqualify the purchase of such a weapon. Think about that for a second if you will.
In the season of Easter in the year of a deadly pandemic which has already taken too soon the lives of over 500,000 Americans and nearly 3 million worldwide here we are once again debating the pros and cons of senseless deaths. Sandwiched between the Atlanta shootings and the Boulder massacre there were four other mass shootings. The carnage is not confined to any particular locality. Oregon, Houston, Dallas, and Philadelphia were also victimized that week. And just yesterday 4 more died in the courtyard of a business complex in Orange, California. That count included a nine-year-old boy. Just another 45 people deprived of spiritual and physical resurrection this Sunday. But who’s counting-anymore.
Large scale shootings are down statistically, one of the few unlikely blessings of the pandemic but mass shootings (four or more deaths) are up and murder from gun violence in general is also up. What gets lost too often however in our preoccupation with the horror of mass slaughter is the ubiquity of firearm damage in this country. Over 20,000 people died from gun homicides in 2020 but it might interest you to know that there were even more suicides by gun. Eighty five percent of those were men and over half of them were over the age of 45. Robert Aaron Long and Ahmad Al Alii Al-Issa were much younger than that and both of them walked away with their own lives. Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, the suspect in the Orange County shooting who also survived the rampage of his own making is 41. So, while the statistics are helpful they obviously do not tell the whole story. A whole lot of rhetoric accompanies these tales about the role of mental and emotional stress in these tragic narratives and sure that’s part of it, I guess. It does not explain how or why Tyler Paxton a happy, healthy 11-year-old boy well educated in the culture and the power of firearms ended up with a bullet in his head while watching cartoons at home. Nor does it explain the majority of gun death in this country which are decidedly not of the mass shooting variety and which happen all too often in communities of color. Fully sixty eight percent of firearm homicide victims in our larger cities are people of color. Tonight, on the night before the resurrection my television blares with the news of a shootout in the Bronx with one dead and one innocent bystander in the hospital. Within seconds another story of a 44-year-old man shooting his ex-wife to death before turning the gun on himself. This time in a leafy white working-class community in New Jersey. If it isn’t apparent yet what the common denominator is then you need to pay more attention. The only thing any of these events have in common is the firearm itself. It is that pure. It is that simple.
But there are forces in the political spectrum who feel that the real danger to this country is not the twin killers of Covid and gun violence but rather phantom voter fraud. As variants grew and numbers surged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided that would be a good time to roll back pandemic restrictions and fines. Hordes of spring breakers descended upon Miami and his super spreader event. They will no doubt return home and to their campuses chock full of virus to share. This as his state became the first to report over 1000 cases of Covid variants.
Promoting a voter fraud myth designed to keep people in the most affected communities from exercising their right to elect people who might actually commit to alleviating the plagues of violence and disease is not only dishonest but dangerous. The political movement which brands itself as “pro-life” has largely avoided the promotion of Covid restrictions and in fact in some states has bent over backwards to create scenarios running counter to all the best practices suggested by scientists. Livable conditions for the planet itself are becoming more and more unsustainable. Thoughts and prayers must be accompanied by tangible actions true to the hopes expressed in the preamble of the constitution for a more perfect union where true justice is firmly established, domestic tranquility is secured, and the general welfare of all Americans is promoted and defended. As long as the will of the people of this country is reflected in a legislative agenda representing a minority of its voters ,propelled by dishonest narratives extinguishing facts and science ,the result can only be a continuation of physical and spiritual death. The resurrection will remain on hold.