It’s like yelling in a traffic tunnel. No one hears you. What you say makes no difference. And so you swallow your anger and continue as before, doing nothing. There must be legions of us swamped by anger as we read The New York Times on January 24. Why is it so hard to do something to stop Americans from shooting each other in public places?
This time the shooter was Curtis J. Reeves Jr., 71, retired police captain, Navy veteran. He walked into the Grove 16 Theater outside Tampa with a .380 in his pocket and took a seat behind Chad W. Oulson, 43, finance manager for a local motorcycle dealership, Navy veteran, father of a 22 month-old daughter, out for the evening with his wife. When Mr. Oulson texted the baby-sitter during the previews, Mr. Reeves demanded that he stop in accordance with the theater rules against talking or texting by cell phone.
When, in the course of their escalating argument, Mr. Oulson threw popcorn in Mr. Reeves’ face, the former police captain pulled out his .380 and shot Mr. Oulson in the chest. Now, Mr. Oulson is dead and Mr. Reeves is claiming self-defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Sound familiar? It was George Zimmerman, the self-appointed law enforcer, who shot Trayvon Martin on the same basis of protecting himself and others from unarmed assailants. Zimmerman walked free. Will Reeves?
The only thing certain about this case is that once again we will be subjected to the subversive ideology of the Right Wing as they claim self-defense while trying to twist the 2nd Amendment to secure freedom for a killer. Will they be defeated by the fact that the killing took place in a theater crowded with witnesses? Will public opinion ever coalesce to prohibit carrying guns in public?
On the same day, an engineering student shot and killed a teaching assistant in a Purdue University classroom. And today, a day later, three people were killed in a shooting in a mall outside Washington, D.C. Have you tried to enter your child’s school lately? You better have i.d. on you to get past security. We are moving one step at a time toward an imprisoned society. Schools? Colleges? Malls? Theaters? These are not places where, as the NRA would have us believe, the mentally ill hang out. These are the places where ordinary citizens are going about their business of learning, shopping, or being entertained. 10,000 Americans die by gunshot every year.
Before you wave your copy of the 2nd Amendment at me, read it here once more:
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.
Doesn’t it say that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed because a well regulated Militia must be available to defend a free state? Is it unreasonable, as we watch our schools and public spaces move shooting by shooting toward national lockdown, to suggest that people like Zimmerman and Reeves who insist on carrying guns in their pockets should join the National Guard which is surely well regulated and where they will be allowed to carry guns in accordance with the 2nd Amendment?
These killers are rarely mentally ill. What they are is engorged by rage at something at hand in the moment– a driver who cuts in front, a jealous husband, a teacher who gave a bad grade, a man texting in a movie theater. At the moment rage overwhelms them, they reach and fire. If the gun isn’t there, the argument doesn’t end in death. Is it unreasonable on any conceivable level to ask that we pass laws with stiff jail terms against carrying concealed guns in public? Do you really want to sit next to a man at the movies who has a .380 in his pocket?
More than a year after Newton, nothing has been done in reaction to 26 children and teachers mowed down inside a trusted school. The gun manufacturers have bought Congress, and the killing will continue. We are still yelling in a traffic tunnel. No one hears us.