Lowering the flag: Is that the best we can do after school children die from gun violence

We’ve lowered the flags to half-staff yet again in front of our government buildings, schools, and cathedrals of consumption. It is such a trite act. The carnage continues in the United States because too many of our citizens value Second Amendment “freedoms” over the well-being of school children, minorities and innocent bystanders.

This country’s founding fathers would have blanched at the idea that semi-automatic or automatic weapons could be legally purchased by American citizens. Far from the weapons conceived in the 1700s, these weapons of war have but one purpose — to do maximum damage in minimal time. They have nothing to do with maintaining militias. 

Certainly the entertainment industry glamorizes violence on television, movies and in video games. None of the violence seems real or permanent when it’s portrayed on a screen. When I was growing up, my mom wouldn’t even let me have toy guns. She had the good sense to teach me that guns aren’t toys. The closest I came to a firearm was shooting a neighbor’s BB gun. It was enough to make me respect, but mostly fear something that could hurt another person. 

I understand people grow up in different situations where guns are a necessary tool. But guns that shoot multiple rounds quickly do not belong in the hands of ordinary people. That would be the law in a sane country.

And seeing some Average Joe in Kroger with a gun on his hip doesn’t make me feel safer; quite the opposite.

Social media and other media outlets blast their gospel of racism and fear 24 hours a day. Too many susceptible people blinded by ignorance and hate are more than willing to become foot soldiers in what they believe to be a real war. Easy access to weapons of war leads to tragedy upon tragedy.

Between the massacres in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde Texas, there was a mass shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that barely was mentioned in the news, mainly because there were no deaths, only injuries. 

According to Everytown, a gun safety advocacy group, there have been 279 mass shootings (defined as four or more people killed by gunfire in a single incident) in American since 2009. Those mass shootings have claimed more than 1,500 lives (https://everytownresearch.org/maps/mass-shootings-in-america/#introduction). There are, of course, thousands of deaths and injuries caused by guns every year that are not caused by mass shootings, just shamefully easy access to firearms. 

The stories of the Buffalo and Uvalde victims are heartbreaking. The lives of teachers, people of faith, innocent bystanders and elementary school children are cut short. Families grieve the loss of loved ones and try to imagine all the potential erased. The names of locations of these mass murders become their markers: Columbine, Parkland, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando, Sacramento, Buffalo, and now Uvalde.

 If we don’t make real changes to our gun laws, the names and places will continue to pile up. We’re almost numb to the carnage by now. It is a national stain.

And all the defenders of Second Amendment “rights” can come up with are “Thoughts and prayers,” “It’s too early to talk about changing gun laws,” and “Don’t politicize this tragedy.”

We need not wonder about who has influenced those who govern us. The National Rifle Association, an organization that used to train youngsters about gun safety, has turned into the biggest promoter of gun proliferation. The NRA’s political contributions get America the worst government money can buy. Even the recent bankruptcy filing by the NRA hasn’t loosened its grip on our nation’s politicians.

 Remember Charlton Heston’s famous line about prying his gun from his “cold, dead hands.” That’s the kind of grip the NRA has on Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Indiana’s very own, Senator Mike Braun, just to name two bought-and-paid for legislators.

Of course, even with the blood in Uvalde fresh on our nation’s psyche, the NRA didn’t have the decency to cancel its big convention in Texas this weekend. The commerce of death must go on. Ironically, no guns are allowed in the convention’s halls.

If you saw Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s display of righteous outrage during Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s post-shooting press conference this week, you may have heard one of the old, white men gathered around the governor call O’Rourke a “sick asshole”. That Texas good ole boy should look in a mirror.

 Fetishizing guns and doing everything you can to allow them to proliferate is what’s sick. And it’s a disease that is killing the citizens of the United States by the thousands every year. And what do we do in response?: Lower the American flags.

 Is that the best America can do?