Of Guns and Votes

A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.

-Theodore Roosevelt

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.   

8 thoughts on “Of Guns and Votes

  1. Jesus died because he wanted us to see there’s an alternative to violence. It is not easy, but it is simple. Do no harm. Do not use violence. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, very good ones as usual. April 4 was the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. We are called to resurrection. Not easy, but simple. Take care, Margaret

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    1. Thank you Margaret. Missed you at the last mutual OSCE. Yes-Do no harm. Which is also the oath doctors take. It is simple, but why does it seem so hard for so many. Stay well my friend.

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  2. So much senseless death and yet we defend articles written over 200 years ago. This quote really struck me: “Thoughts and prayers must be accompanied by tangible actions” Instead we often find people throwing around mere words, prayers and sentiments which change nothing.

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  3. Hi Tom,
    Not in respect to your latest but I came across a passage in an article I was reading and I had a thought that I think you may appreciate. The author is talking about species development and when I got to the line ‘are characterized by male competition, aggression, …….

    Check out the passage:

    [ When Marina and I looked at this problem in 2010, social structure turned out to be the key. It is critical to pass on knowledge gained through experience from one generation to the next. And a species’ social behavior cannot be too aggressive. Our close relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas—with whom we share 99 and 98 percent of our genes, respectively—are characterized by male competition, aggression, and instigation of fear. Compare this to our hominid ancestor from more than four million years ago, Ardipithecus Ramidus, who had a social system in which females chose their own partners. That led them to have reduced levels of aggression and more stable social arrangements, meaning that outsiders were more tolerated and innovations (such as the use of new tools) were more easily accepted by the community ]

    As I read that line it popped out at me- DONALD TRUMP. Think about it, male competition, aggression, and most striking instigation of fear. I cannot think of a more pithy way to describe Trump, his past life and now the way he is rampaging through the Republican party. .

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    1. Hey Gary, my brother has been preaching much the same, patriarchy takes the civil out of civilization. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately even many of the women in the movement of 45 (sorry I just cannot bring myself to even type the name) are endowed (bad word choice perhaps) with the same Neanderthal characteristics as the men. Eg: Boebert and Greene. The Congress person from Colorado even has a restaurant where the servers are armed. But it is the men who are leading this leading this Hamlinian March to the cliff and the water. It is the men who run the NRA, it is the men like Rand Paul and Jim Jordan who insist they fighting with science in the face of Dr. Fauci because they need to act tough because they don’t really have the balls to stand up to their outrageous constituencies and say “wear a freakin mask!” Real bravery is not siring a child, it’s carrying it for nine months and pushing it through a birth canal despite pain most men will never experience and then caring and nurturing it which is a talent which men are not devoid of, but it doesn’t come as naturally to us. And when we develop it you can sure as shit usually trace it back to the influence of a woman in our lives. Thanks for this. I’m going to send it off to my brother. Regards to Susie.

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  4. Tom, I’ve been having recent problems posting a comment to your blog but am trying again and hope I’m not flooding you with duplicates.

    Thanks for your insight and again, you research. In regard to our national gun violence, I’m not sure which of your comments is more sad: “But who’s counting-anymore.” or “the will of the people of this country is reflected in a legislative agenda representing a minority of its voters” . Both feel so desperate in tone.

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    1. Hey Phil, sorry about the trouble but your comment popped up today. After I got the email. I don’t know why these things happen, but its not the first time strange stuff has happened on here. Oh well. But as always happy to read your comments. Yes there is much sadness. Too much and sometimes I wonder if it is worth the effort. I feel at times like I am just repeating myself. I thought we would have an epiphany after Sandy Hook. That was over eight years ago. And still the casualties pile up, across a wider and wider variety of landscapes. All we can do I think is continue to vote in larger and larger numbers than they have bullets and to guard the enfranchisement of the vote and hope that as the climate and the texture of the electorate evolves so can our national discussion of what truly makes for a “free” society. Love to Michelle. And as always, thanks for reading. T

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