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The bells rang for the lost: Charlotte Bacon, Olivia Engel, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeline Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison Wyatt. All were six years old. Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Chase Kowalski, and Grace McDonnell were 7. Six adults died with them: Mary Sherlach, Anne Marie Murphy, Dawn Hochsprung, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D'Avino, Victoria Soto.






It helps to say their names, to rescue them from the statistical anonymity that always settles over these awful events. It helps those of us distanced from the loss to imagine, even grieve, the emptiness in the homes and hearts of those who loved them. They will never forget. We mourn, move on, and too soon forget. And then it will happen again one day, and we will scratch our heads and ask ourselves, "Was the last time Newtown? Or Columbine? Was it Aurora? Or that college in Virginia?" And once again we will mourn, move on, and too soon forget.

There is an old Hassidic saying that, "In remembrance is the secret of redemption." But America forgets quickly, and gives no lasting indication it seeks redemption from its fetish with guns, its romance with the free market of violence. With the sport of it all. The show must go on. It's our right. At any price. What were their names again? Oh, yes -- Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Dylan, Allison, Dawn. Poor things, such a tragedy. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.

And so we make our peace with violence. And make ourselves over in its image. A state senator in Missouri, a life-time member of the National Rifle Association, is pushing a bill to require that all first graders be enrolled in the NRA's gun safety course. First graders. Six and seven years old. Pledge Allegiance to the flag. Lock and Load. Our new Head Start.

A state senator in Tennessee's Republican legislature says he will introduce a bill that would allow the state to pay for secretly armed teachers in classrooms. Saintly Miss Simpson, packing heat. Hey, Mr. Russell, it's show and tell, can we see your Glock 9? After the Newtown killings, a sixth-grader at an elementary school near Salt Lake City brought a gun to school, saying he wanted to protect himself and his friends. Instead, allegedly, he used it to threaten some classmates. As The Good Book says, get with it, "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Ready. Aim. Fire.

And for the child who has everything this season, how about body armor? A Utah company named Amendment II offers a new line of it for kids. Mother Jones magazine reports sales have tripled in one week. A Massachusetts company is promoting The Bullet Blocker, a "rugged computer backpack designed for work or play." Made of the same materials used in bullet-proof police vests, currently on sale for the holidays for $199.99. And on Facebook, an outfit called Black Dragon Tactical that sells vests and other combat gear sent this message: "Arm the teachers, in the meantime, bulletproof the kids."

This market never closes. America's turned violence into a profit center. And if you haven't finished your Christmas shopping, no need to wait for Santa; his sleigh couldn't even hold the heavy weapons. Step this way. Black Friday is every day. And we have something for everyone, from cradle to grave. From cradle to grave.

Surely this can't go on. This spilling of innocent blood, this bleeding of democracy's soul. We're losing faith in ourselves, acting as subjects, not citizens, no longer believing that it is in our power to do the right thing. We Americans are not smarter than other people, and certainly no more virtuous. Our exceptionalism is our capacity for self-correction. To reach the bridge of the ship, point to the iceberg dead ahead, and demand of the captain a change of course before it's too late. "They," the gun industry, its profiteers, zealots and apologists, its political stooges, fabulists, and constitutional originalists, who would have us think the "well-regulated militia" of a sparsely-populated frontier nation in the 18th century really means tolerating a perpetual wild west here in the 21st century. "They" say, "don't tread on us, get off our well-armed backs, there's nothing you can do."

Of course there is. Register all guns. License all gun owners. Require stringent background checks. Get tough on assault weapons of any kind. Crack down on high-capacity ammunition as the president has now proposed. And then, enforce the laws. Yes, I know, determined killers will always find a way. But we can minimize the opportunities, and scale back the scope of destruction. Why do we accept the need for driver's licenses? Or submit to the sometimes humiliating body scans at airports? Because it's the law, and deep down we know we're safer for the inconvenience of the law.

Good laws are hard to come by. Civilization, just as hard. The rough and tumble of politics makes them so. But democracy aims for a moral order as just as humanly possible, which means laws that protect the weak and not just the strong. Lest we forget.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One Of My Former Coworkers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    remembrance, MPociask, Lily O Lady

    had a daughter at VA Tech. She wasn't in that building/classroom but her roommate was. We're were a "virtual" company and as the news broke there was IM after IM that went out. She couldn't locate her daughter. It was sheer panic on her part.

    That was as close as I've ever been to one of these mass killings. I hope I am never closer. But in the aftermath I thought something had to be done. Just something.

    But alas nothing has happened. I wonder how many more we'll have to endure before some rational people, in both political parties, do something. Anything.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:46:21 AM PST

  •  Great article (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    remembrance, lostinamerica, Anna M

    And I agree with you on nearly every point.  You bring out the implicit foolish dichotomy that the anti-gun control people uphold.  On the one hand, gun control laws can never work, because man is evil, and criminals will always find a way to harm us!  On the other hand, if we only empower men with lethal firearms, and start training them in such arms at a very young age, and put them in the hands of as many people as possible, surely even the gods themselves cannot stand against us!

    The only point I'd disagree with is the necessity of the body scans at air ports.  They don't make us safer, they are unconstitutional, and it's unbelievable how meekly people accepted them.

  •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

    I believe it was Naomi Klein (Shock Doctrine) who pointed out that with every disaster, there are always capitalists waiting in the wings looking to make a profit.  Bulletproof vests for kids now?  When will the insanity end?

  •  Instead of reaching out to one another with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anna M

    compassion, we are arming up and armor plating our kids, leading to more fear and paranoia. We are being pushed by fear toward becoming 300 million armed camps on guard against the next attack from we know not who. As Mr. Moyers has said, we are escalating violence is this country thinking that more guns will bring us more security.

    My father, who was an infantry staff sergeant in WWII, felt that he had fought so that he wouldn't have to carry a gun in civilian life. He was an Eagle Scout and knew how to shoot, but was glad to lay down his arms after the war.

    You reap what you sow. If you sow fear and violence you are more likely to get fear and violence. If you sow compassion and peace you are more likely to get compassion and peace.

    So many Christian leaders have words of blame after each disaster. It's because we don't pray enough. It's because not every single American isn't a genuine, born again, evangelical christian of exactly the correct strain. It's because women have access to birth control or children play video games. But none of these "reasons" have a sense of the Christ these leaders claim to profess. There is no redemption or compassion in their words. And the arguments that ensue drive us farther from one another.

    My definition of evil which I refined after 9/11 is simply destruction. By that definition guns are evil. Perhaps they are a necessary evil, but being necessary is not the same as being good. We are being sold the idea by the NRA that guns, sanctioned by the Second Amendment to the Constitution are good because they are an American right. I disagree. And the fewer of them, the better. Then we can get down to the job of compassionately building community rather than destroying what we fear thereby destroying ourselves.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:16:24 PM PST

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