San Bernardino Carnage: Whose Life is it Anyway!

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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 , after heavy NRA lobbying, approved a measure that gave gun makers and gun distributors broad, and unprecedented, immunity from a wave of liability 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  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 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 , which says: “A well regulated , 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 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 , 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 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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6 thoughts on “San Bernardino Carnage: Whose Life is it Anyway!

  1. I lived in Alaska for seven years, and realized that, in the Native Alaskans’ right to hunt for subsistence, this issue was a little more complicated, but that is another matter entirely. While I was there, I discovered the books of Dana Stabenow, who wrote a series of books about a native who was a detective, a delightful and sometimes quite violent succession of books that continues to this day. A lot of violence, yes, but always from those she was hired to thwart in their criminal activities: yet the protagonist, Kate Shugak, never carried a gun, although she did hunt for subsistence. In her work, however, she never “packed heat.” When asked why not, she said, as I recall, “Guns make things too easy.”

    • I agree Amidha that hunting is another matter entirely. It always amazes me to see British police using their brains to solve cases in novels and on TV – and rarely carrying weapons. So different from American hero role model who is usually armed to the teeth.

  2. There are so many ideologies and rights at play here, it is difficult to know where to begin to discuss this issue. But perhaps your approach is the best, to start with whom we are, in your case an American, a writer, and a mother, and to bring our individual wisdom with the goal to not lose hope. Earlier today I read that the combined number of all American deaths in all wars since 1775 or so is 1.4 million. The total number of deaths from gun violence since 1968 is 1.4 million. That’s like saying the same numbers died in declared and undeclared civil and foreign wars that died in undeclared firearm war. But some still live, and where there is life, there is hope.

    • Yes – all this is overwhelmingly complex yet we need to find a way to start regaining sanity. Thank you for your kind words and insights.

    • Yes Amidha. This bottom line is what we have lost sight of. As a nation we lack the collective will to make the changes that could make each life equally valuable and result in safety for all citizens.

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