Monday, December 17, 2012

News Tidbits: Gun Sales Going Great Guns, Adam Lanza's Mother a Gun Enthusiast, Garry Wills on Gun Idolatry, Jerry Slevin on Petition to Protect Children

Ed Kennedy reports at AfterElton today that, according to buzz on social media, "gun shops are doing record business this [past] weekend in the wake of the massacre, though some say it's just normal Christmas business." Kennedy also notes that the National Rifle Association website has gone silent since the Sandy Hook atrocity, as it did for ten days following the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting--but, according to Kennedy, the NRA website is usually silent only a day following a mass shooting.

And in the Americans-gotta-love-'em category: yesterday, Steve and I drove across the city to buy a Christmas tree, and what with my wondering eyes should I see by the roadside as we drove home but a huge sign advertising diamond rings for sale. With a blaring message that if you buy her a diamond for Christmas, the vendor will give you a free shotgun for yourself in the exchange!

The very strangest argument I've encountered from reactionary fellow citizens following the shootings in Connecticut was from a mother of young children who bridles at what she sees as an attempt of liberals to curb her constitutional right to buy guns to protect her children. But as Matt Flegenheimer and Ravi Somaya reported yesterday in New York Times, the gun Adam Lanza used to kill his mother and 26 other people in Newtown was bought by his own mother.

Who was a gun enthusiast. Who took her sons to gun ranges to teach them to shoot. Who apparently owned two handguns, two hunting rifles, and a semiautomatic military rifle, three of which Lanza took to Sandy Hook school with him.

So, while I have great sympathy for any mother seeking to protect her children, if I were that mother shouting about liberal attempts to take away her guns after the Connecticut atrocity, I'd rethink my argument. And I also wholeheartedly agree with Garry Wills when he writes, following the latest mass shooting,

That horror [i.e., of the Connecticut shootings] cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

I also applaud Jerry Slevin for issuing yet another call for our nation to protect children from abuse in the wake of the Connecticut massacre, with a reminder of the petition still pending at the White website calling on President Obama to establish a national commission to deal with sexual abuse of children. Abuse of children in all shapes, forms, and fashions is interrelated.

And we Americans are very good at paying lip service--but only lip service--to the ideal of protecting and cherishing children. 

And, finally, it's important for us not to forget that the gun fervor in the U.S. was ratcheted up significantly following the events of 9/11--as the graphic I've chosen for this piece, a photo from a post-9/11 pro-gun rally in D.C., demonstrates. The events of 9/11 not only ratcheted up gun fervor. They also spurred ugly expressions of Islamophobic prejudice and hate, often by Christian ministers.

But watch how people in the public square respond to some of those expressions of hateful prejudice by one minister notorious for Islamophobic hysteria in this clip from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's new documentary "The Education of Mohammad Hussein."* May God send us more takeovers of hate speech in the public square by songs about love, peace, and justice.

A note for those clicking on this link at work or in a public space: it opens to a New York Times article in which the video clip begins to play automatically.

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