Readers often assume that I love writing. I wish that were the case. Frankly, I view writing much as I view working out in the gym. I love both activities, but only after I’m done.
Lately I’ve been procrastinating more and more over these missives each week and submitting them closer and closer to the Thursday 4 p.m. deadline. If on Monday, or Tuesday or, even worse, Wednesday I don’t have a column percolating my brain goes on “search mode,” AKA panic.
Last week I wrote about the fiscal cliff and managed to eke out some humor, albeit on the cheap side. (John Boehner’s “liberal” use of self-tanning lotion.) The column ran on Friday, the day that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. an atrocity occurred, making it one of the darkest days in our county’s history.
Five heroic teachers and their principal and 20 first graders were massacred at the hands of a sick 20-year-old man wielding an assault rifle. His unspeakable actions devastated this country emotionally and elicited condolences worldwide. It turns out Newton is every town.
I’ve procrastinated writing this column more than any I can ever recall. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe thinking carefully about another senseless mass murder in America and struggling to find the right words is good. It has made me dwell on the madness of this horrific phenomenon, including how routinely it happens.
In President Barack Obama’s first term he has made four visits to grieving cities in America, victims of gun-related carnage. As Obama said at an emotional vigil in Newton on Sunday, “Enough is enough,” adding, “Surely we can do better than this.”
That night I was alone in my apartment building’s gym watching Sunday Night Football as I worked out. Suddenly the broadcast cut away to Obama’s speech at Newtown. When the president somberly listed the names of the teachers, the principal and the children, tears began streaming down my cheeks. At that moment a neighbor came to use the weights and couldn’t help but notice my weeping. (He must have really thought I hate exercise.)
Later, on the Internet, I saw some sub-human had tweeted, “Get that [n-word] off the TV. I want to see my football.”
We’ve experienced these tragedies so often it’s as though we’ve become inured and, as a result, nothing is ever done to prevent further gun violence. In its devotion to the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Assn. has successfully prevented any curbs of assault weapons or high capacity magazine clips.
For example, the murderer in Newtown had three weapons, each with clips containing 30 bullets. He also had numerous other clips in his possession, totaling hundreds of rounds of ammunition. It’s ghastly to even conjure the thought but it’s a miracle that more people weren’t slaughtered.
The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It was written when we relied on citizens arming themselves in civilian militias.
But with an all-volunteer military we don’t have militias anymore. (And if we do, they’re generally a scary looking collection of nut jobs, but please don’t quote me lest they show up at my door.) Is it too much to ask that we reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban that Ronald Reagan endorsed but that George W. Bush let lapse in 2004? What sane person would need or want a semi-automatic assault rifle to hunt deer?
And how are there still gun-show loopholes that allow for 40 percent of all guns to be bought without a background check? And how are armor-piercing bullets even on the market? Or magazine clips that hold 30 bullets? None of those are necessary for hunting animals, but apparently are ideal for massacring humans.
On Monday, 6-year-old Jack Pinto was buried in Newton. He was such a fan of football player Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, that his family buried him in his Victor Cruz jersey. On Sunday, in the game against Atlanta, Cruz wrote “Jack Pinto” and “my hero” on his cleats and gloves. On Tuesday the Giants receiver fought back tears while describing his hour-long visit with Jack’s parents and siblings.
Posthumously, Jack also received a letter from his best pal, John, whose sadness is palpable in his hand-written farewell note, “Jack you are my best friend. We had fun together. I will miss you. I will talk to you in my prayers. I love you, Jack.”
In four days the country will celebrate the birth of the prince of peace. Meanwhile we have over 280 million guns and an estimated 30,000 gun-related deaths annually. (In England there’s 35.) In the memory of little Jack Pinto, and all the other children and adults whose lives have been lost due to gun violence, enough has to be enough. Surely we have to do better than this.