San Bernardino Carnage: Whose Life is it Anyway!

Guns kill people. But the NRA relies heavily on the support of the $12-billion-a-year gun industry, made up of manufacturers and sellers of firearms, ammunition and related wares. That alliance was sealed in 2005, when Congress, after heavy NRA lobbying, approved a measure that gave gun makers and gun distributors broad, and unprecedented, immunity from a wave of liability lawsuits related to gun violence in America’s cities. Joyce questions the gun laws in the light of recent carnages in the US.

How does one write about an event that is a raw wound without trivialising the unfathomable suffering of those involved? Only those of us who directly experience the horror of a massacre, who lie in pools of blood next to their kith and kin listening for the sound of ambulance sirens, have a right to speak. But I will try. Because as an American, I am addicted to the idea of solutions and as a mother I am obligated to keep hope alive in any way I can.

So, while pundits rage on air and tout their theories, I am walking in my back yard, dictating into my iPhone while Cato, our Bengal cat strains eagerly at his leash. I keep Cato, who is a lover of the outdoors, tethered his own protection from neighborhood coyotes and raccoons and to keep him from slaughtering the songbirds that beautify our neighborhood. You might say I am thwarting his feline hunting instincts and you’d be right. And if I could, I would create a giant leash to thwart the violent impulses unleashed on our society every day by those with easy access to assault weapons – like the ones used to murder 14 health workers and seriously injure 21 at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

Here’s a composite photo of all 14 victims from the San Bernardino shooting rampage. They are top row left: Robert Adams, Isaac Amanios, Bennetta Betbadal, Harry Bowman and Sierra Clayborn. Second row from left: Juan Espinoza, Aurora Godoy, Shannon Johnson, Larry Daniel Kaufman and Damian Meins.  Bottom row from left: Tin Nguyen, Nicholas Thalasinos, Yvette Velasco and Michael Wetzel (Courtesy of family / Los Angeles Times)

Everyone knows the weapons used to perpetrate this carnage were ‘legally’ purchased. After all, California has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. So let’s dig a little deeper and ask ourselves, why are we directly sanctioning the ‘legal’ purchase of weapons of war by civilians? Why is there an armed nation taking shape inside America? Why are terrorists – both American-born and now, it seems, imported from foreign soil — getting ‘permission’ to arm themselves?

The answer takes the form of three words: the National Rifle Association (NRA). One of the most powerful political entities in America, the NRA is so influential it scares the the daylights out of otherwise reasonable politicians and shoots up gun control legislation as easy target practice. These ‘gun rights’ supporters cloak themselves behind the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, which says: “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.”

In reality, the NRA relies heavily on the support of “the $12-billion-a-year gun industry, made up of manufacturers and sellers of firearms, ammunition and related wares. That alliance was sealed in 2005, when Congress, after heavy NRA lobbying, approved a measure that gave gun makers and gun distributors broad, and unprecedented, immunity from a wave of liability lawsuits related to gun violence in America’s cities.” (Huffington Post).

During my lifetime, I have personally met only one card-carrying member of the NRA. An office-mate from the days when I wrote forMicrosoft, he insisted on carrying a concealed weapon to work that he kept in his car. This was shocking to me. I realised my friend had grown up in a culture so completely different from mine that it was nigh impossible for us to communicate. We would argue by throwing statistics back and forth. He maintained that putting even more guns on the street to arm citizens was the only viable way to protect ourselves. I countered by saying that the proliferation of weapons spreads the virus of violence, no matter who wields them. This same argument will continue for weeks now in different forms, on the airwaves, social media and TV right. It’s a dialog that so far has failed to move us in the direction of positive change.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that we are at risk of descending into the dark ages that we pretend to have left behind. As President Obama puts it, we have “a pattern now of mass shooting in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”

A memorial for the victims attacked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT LEWIS / THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

As I write these words, the NRA and demagogic politicians are busy spreading conspiracy theories to convince citizens that they must arm themselves to resist our government –when the truth is, they are scheming to take power for themselves. If we let the gun industry and their minions exploit xenophobia and propagate an ‘end of the world’ scenario, boiling our lives down to ‘them or us,’ those Americans who want to keep planting flowers and vegetables in our gardens, create art, and live simply and peacefully on our planet will be in for a rude awakening. We will soon be forced out of our ivory towers and heavily foliaged back yards. The sound of gunfire has become an everyday background noise no one can afford to ignore.

Pix from Net

Joyce Yarrow

Joyce Yarrow is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her poetry, short stories, and music have been widely published. Her acclaimed Jo Epstein mystery series includes 'Ask the Dead' and 'Russian reckoning' and she recently co-authored a family saga/thriller, 'Rivers run back,' with Arindam Roy. Joyce is an activist, lobbying strongly for the anti-gun laws.When she is not writing, she sings for Abrace, aspiring for global peace.

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