#10: The Connecticut elementary school shooting #11: Gun laws in America

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Cultural examples like Fifty Shades of Grey, Miranda Kerr writing a ‘book’ and Lara Bingle wanting to be taken seriously, are each in their own way, responsible for the apocalypse that’s scheduled for this Friday. As absolutely ridiculous/ terrifying elements of the present world, it is often easy to laugh at them, given that Fifty Shades posits that female subordination and oppression (a.k.a treating women worse than animals) is like, so totally, a MAJOR turn on, Miranda Kerr marketed something as a book when she is semi-literate, plagiarised other peoples quotes, and left the second half of the book for us to write ourselves (???), and Lara Bingle had diarrhea on camera, had an affair with a married man, stood infront of the most famous beach in (possibly) the world totally naked, and then feigned surprise when someone took a photo, and then drives without a license and has an accident, AND THEN decides she would like to be taken seriously now (please). This type of evidence for the degeneracy of the human race can be laughed at; but you know what’s not funny? A 20 year old man walking into a primary school and killing 26 people. It just enters into another level of complete absurdity and senselessness. It also isn’t the first time. But when we can’t:

a) Get on an aeroplane with toothpaste/ tweezers/ moisturiser/ a bottle of water (clearly planning a pretty hectic terrorist attack with THAT strange array of supplies)

b) Borrow a library book, when we have another one outstanding (and it always has an embarassing title like “Net.seXXX: Readings on Sex, Pornography, and the Internet” gull IT WAS FOR AN ASSIGNMENT)

c) Throw something out at a train station/ subway because all bins have been removed as a safety precaution.

YET a man a little younger than us can pick up a gun, that is easily accessible, walk into a primary school, and shoot 20 children and 6 teachers…

there is no greater proof that Western society has completely lost the plot.

After reading up on the official gun laws of Connecticut, we were able to establish that it was indeed harder for Pollux to get her pen license in Year 4, than it is for an adult to acquire a gun license in this state. In order for Pollux to get her pen license, she had to prove herself over the period of more than a year, change the way she naturally wrote, get her Mum to call the school because it appeared the teacher had forgotten – at which point, she was FINALLY awarded with her much treasured pen license (why didn’t we just…write with pens? Who was going to stop us? No one has asked us in high school/ university/ work for proof of our pen license…and we lost our awards…do we need to update them? Are we writing…illegally!?). In Connecticut, as long as you are not a convicted murderer (yet) or have not been diagnosed as mentally handicapped (isn’t someone requesting a gun proof enough that they are mentally unstable?), then you pretty much just get one. No calls from mum, no waiting a year, no need to prove yourself. You don’t get asked why you need/want it and there are no tests. Infact, it is entirely legal for a person to WALK AROUND with a gun in their hand, totally visible to the public. So, the gunman (we refuse to name him) could have theoretically walked to the school, with the gun in his hand, and no one would have had reason to stop him. If we walked past someone with a gun…they would be like um why on earth do you have a gun? Is that for hunting? Because even if it is…we’re not cool with that. There is absolutely no circumstance we can think of, that would require a person to just carry around a gun in a neighbourhood.

So the gunman did not himself own a gun (although it wouldn’t have been difficult). Instead, he stole guns from his mother, who was a gun enthusiast. We don’t understand why a mother raising her children in a safe and peaceful neighbourhood (before her son went crazy) owned not one gun, BUT FOUR? Why would she even need one? A witness said that she used to take her children to the rifle range, because guns were a hobby. What.? How is that…fun? Why not like…ice skating…or the driving range…or, I don’t know, the beach? They are fun hobbies. How is learning to shoot constructive? Rifle ranges in the US often don’t have targets set up where you aim for a bullseye, but HUMAN BODIES where you aim for the heart or the head, in order to ensure that you kill them (uh ok). What kind of society sets this up as a past time, and then acts shocked when someone enacts this in real life? Games we play as children…we thought…were meant to be educational. We play scrabble to broaden our vocabulary, and Monopoly to learn about money management, and we go to a shooting range to…learn how to accurately/ properly kill a human being? That’s a weird thing to do.

Another way in which primary school appears to be more sophisticated in their policies than the United States of America, is in their approach to bad behaviour. When we were in primary school, rulers with metal edges were banned because students were/could have been/probably weren’t/didn’t think about it until they banned it, hurting themselves or others with the rulers. We’re pretty sure it was one kid who did it once by accident, and for the rest of the history of primary school only plastic rulers were allowed. The point was that if there was the potential for harm, by an object where the benefits did not outweigh the dangers, you no longer had the right to bear metal-edged ruler. YET, in the classroom of the United States, where safety issues should never have to surpass the danger of metal rulers, an individual can carry around a metal hand gun filled with bullets without instigating a change in policy. You see, if our primary school teacher was the president of the United States, then she would make a really boring lecture that sounds something like this:

“Boys and girls! BOYS AND GIRLS. What are our ears for? Listening! That’s right. Bums on seats, fingers on lips shhhh. Now, I gave you the privledge of using handguns. You have (pause for effect) abused that right (pause for effect) and I am so disappointed and shocked. I expected more from you Year Four. Due to the actions of a FEW OF YOU, I know it’s not all of you, but a few of you, the right to bear arms has been taken away. If there is even a POSSIBILITY that you will hurt each other, I cannot allow you to carry them on your person. SO no more handguns, you may not bring them to school and if we see one, it will be confiscated. We allowed you to have them initially as a safety measure. From now on, if you have an issue with another student, do not use your handgun, but tell the teacher on duty. They will help you to resolve the conflict, with words rather than bullets. Thank you Year Four.”

As you can see, despite the fact this teacher is really annoying and loves the sound of her own voice, she does have a point. If there are people hurting/ killing each other with any type of instrument you should…um ban it?

 

Another reason why the world is ending, is because we seem to be getting stupider. If we read ONE more article that reports that the gunman had ‘antisocial tendencies’ and was possibly ‘autistic’ and/or a ‘psychopath’ we will…well we don’t know…we’re not really very violent people…we’ll get quite annoyed. When a 20 year old goes into a primary school, full of young children, none of whom he knows, and shoots twenty of them dead along with six teachers, OF COURSE HE IS ANTISOCIAL. That is not a particuarly SOCIAL thing to do. We cannot think of anything more antisocial than literally killing the people around you for no reason. Yeah…we don’t think this guy was really a people person…but you know…it’s just speculation. Castor has been studying psychology for the past three years. Pollux hasn’t. But Pollux can say with 100% confidence that this gunman was not a mentally stable, happy, young man. No ‘normal’ person massacres a primary school, in fact, no ‘normal’ person would shoot another person (you know, just as a general rule). We do not need qualified psychologists wasting their time telling us that this gunman ‘possibly’ had a mental disorder. It is like when people are surprised to learn that Hitler was obsessive compulsive. Um, when a dictator keeps ranting about world domination, invades countries, kills 6 million Jews, and at least 4 million homosexuals, Soviets, prostitutes, gypsies, Christians, political opponents, negroes, handicapped and disabled people, and many others, IT APPEARS THAT HE MAY HAVE BEEN A LITTLE OBSESSIVE.

What worries us, which Morgan Freeman has alluded to this week, is that the sensationalism of the media will give these murderers a cult-like following. These criminals, through massacres like Columbine, Virginia Tech, the movie theatre and now Connecticut, have come to represent the bullied, the sad, the angry and the outcast. In a world which thrives off individualism and narcissism, there is no greater fear than dying as a nobody. So instead of being a nobody, this type of psychopath immortalises themselves (successfully we might add). Studies have shown that when the media reports on suicide, the incidence of suicide significantly increases. Therefore, suicide is hardly ever reported, with the exception of the recent prank incident. So…wouldn’t it logically follow that when we are subject to non-stop reports of the Connecticut shooting, that some other psychopath will be inspired to become the most talked about human in the Western world? Here is a (serious) anecdote which illustrates our point:

A week or so after the tragic death of Jill Meagher, who was killed five minutes from her home, Castor and Pollux were walking down a street in our suburb, also five minutes from home. Pollux had ranted that day, about how annoyed she was that there were radio segments about “how women will act differently” given the news of Jill Meagher. She argued that the segment SHOULD have been entitled “how will MEN act differently and stop attacking/ murdering women”. It really is very annoying, and may we say repetitive, when a man killing a woman is somehow made the woman’s responsibility. Why should we develop safety maps and become more cautious, because one man couldn’t help but murder an innocent woman? After all, fear is the greatest form of oppression. We will not go into the details, but as we were both walking down the street, Pollux was attacked and indecently assaulted in broad daylight. We will never know why, or what possessed the man to do such an awful thing, but one thing we do believe, is that until he went to pass us on the street, he had not planned the attack. It seemed spontaneous, and the act was in some ways, reminiscent of the Meagher case. The attack was sexual, although not nearly to the extent of Meagher, was obviously random (which is very rare for sexual offences), and lastly, occurred in a quiet neighbourhood. We couldn’t help but think, that for a man who was clearly mentally ill, the media might be a key source of inspiration. The story of Jill Meagher was literally plastered throughout all forms of news and social media, and was in the back of everyone’s minds. We would be very interested to see how many similar assaults occurred in the weeks after the Meagher incident, as the deranged mind, no doubt, imitates what he/she see’s on television.

THEREFORE we think the media needs to….chill…out. Just back off. Yes the story needs to be reported, so we can put pressure on governments to change policies which allow this to happen, and so that we can support, honour, and remember the victims and their families. Yet, we do not need excessive information on the murderer, or constant interviews with the victims families. We must understand that this is not an episode of ‘Days of Our Lives’, but an unbelievable tragedy that happened to real families. The community of Newtown has suffered a serious trauma, and the process of recovery is extremely sensitive. This media approach of constantly asking questions about details of the event, has been proven within psychological domains, to intefere and interrupt the natural healing process. The families who have lost loved ones need to be respected, and should not be forced to relive the horrible ordeal, every time an insensitive reporter feels like asking them a question. 

One of the biggest signs that the world is ending is that there is actually a…debate..about this. Really? There are seriously people who think that their God-given right to bear arms (which isn’t God-given…it’s from a very, very outdated constitution) is worth more than 10, 728 lives in the past year that have been lost because of handguns. A philosophy tutor once told Castor that Michael Moore was an idiot. He is an idiot (don’t agree..but we get the point) because he doesn’t consider the alternative point of view to the one he is arguing. And a good argument always explains not only why their argument is better, but why the alternative is flawed. So lets be fair. Lets look at the reasons people give against gun control:

  1. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”…(with guns). Yes, this is true to an extent. If someone came up to us and offered us a gun…we would politely decline…and would not massacre a school just because we had access to a gun. Yes, people kill people, but guns make it a lot easier. On the same day as the Connecticut school shooting, a man with a knife injured 22 children and one adult in a primary school in central China. Key word: injured. A doctor told reporters that of the injured children admitted to hospital, none were seriously injured. These two stories seriously have to imply a pretty important idea about gun control. If a mentally disturbed man, with the intention of killing primary school children, has access to a gun, he kills them. If the same man does not have access to a gun, he injures them. We’re fairly sure that the families of the victims of the Connecticut shootings would give anything for their children to have been injured, and not killed. And the victims families for both attacks would give anything for their children to have not been harmed in any way, to have been safe at school. But its also the culture. A culture of guns, and video games about guns, and movies about guns, and media coverage about guns, is going to cause problems with guns.
  2. Now primary schools should be armed, because if a man were to walk in with a gun, we could shoot him”. No. STOP with the guns. No more guns. The solution to a problem about guns is not more guns. You wouldn’t NEED a gun to stop the man with a gun if there was gun CONTROL in the first place. How would MORE guns solve the too many guns problem? Americans seem to have guns…to protect themselves…from other people…with guns. But they don’t seem to see, that if GUNS were removed from this very simple equation, then there would not be a problem. Sorry – still in shock that anyone (it was a Senator) would suggest that more guns was the solution.
  3. Psychopaths who want to shoot innocent people are going to get access to guns, no matter how hard we make it”. Ahh ok, fair enough. Wait. How do you know that? We don’t think you know that. In fact, that intuitively doesn’t even seem right. We have a theory that there are these callous, unemotional, individuals, who are particularly susceptible to imposing harm on other people, because they don’t process empathy in the same way that the rest of us do. However, we think that the direction of this psychopathy is largely determined by cultural context, such that if guns are the freely available and salient weapon, mass murders with guns will occur.
  4. It’s the Second Amendment”. Good point. People (mentally stable or not) should have the right to bear arms (and kill innocent children) because people have the right to bear arms. Mmhm. We’ve never encountered an argument more circular. Why should American’s bear arms? Because it’s the law….duh. Imagine what it was like arguing for the female vote, or abolishing slavery. You would have to argue with redneck idiots being like “you CAINT vote becoz…you caint vote…the constatuchen says so…now get offa my proparty” CHH CHH *cocks gun* (because it’s legal and woman is illegal because she is a woman).

So after this compelling debate…it’s a close call…but yep we win. But for some reason in 2012, logic, reason, peace, sense, rationality and human rights don’t prevail over confusing and undemocratic power relations, politics that no one can follow, and resistance to change. So we drafted a very official letter to Mr. Obama…kinda like Dear Mr. President…but not as…crap:

To Mr. Obama,

Hey it’s us. Um so we were thinking, you know that constitution that is probably laying around in your office somewhere, that says something about American’s having the right to bear arms? And you know how six year old children and teachers were murdered by a crazed gunman a few days ago? WELL we were thinking – do you reckon you could grab a pen (probs one sitting on your desk somewhere) and cross out the Second Amendment, or liquid paper, if you’re a liquid paper kinda guy…and change it to something along the lines of rarara American’s ‘don’t’ have the right to carry guns around for no reason other than to kill fellow American’s? Could you specify that you’re not allowed to walk into Walmart or your casual gun store and buy guns and bullets? We were thinking about why you haven’t done this already, and then we had an epiphany. It’s okay, don’t be embarrassed, Pollux had a bit of trouble too. You don’t have your pen license yet, do you!? Here is a bit of insight for YOU Mr. Obama. Turns out that that license is just a stupid piece of paper and you can write with a pen whenever you like. So now you can do it after all! On a serious note though Barack, looking at the past few years, if you get that pen now and cross out that amendment (can’t you do whatever you want? You’re like a REALLY powerful guy. You send people to war and stuff), you are tangibly stopping another massacre really similar to this one from happening. They seem to happen every few months. We also did the maths…and this is your last term – you can’t be re-elected. SO what have you got to lose?? Wouldn’t you rather go down in history as a guy who did something really important and really revolutionary, than be popular with gun enthusiasts right now? Just as a heads up – you’re not even popular with gun enthusiasts right now (sorry…no offense). Anyway, hope you appreciate the advice, and good luck with writing in pen! It’s kinda slippery for the first time but you get used to it :).

Lots of love, Castor and Pollux.

P.S. Better than getting a song from Pink. Am I right?? AMIRITE?!

But he probably wouldn’t take a walk with us …(Hi, this is Pollux here. Can I just put on the record that I did not in any way support Castor’s reference to a Pink song. I find it highly embarrassing and it took me about three minutes to get it, because I spend a lot of time trying to erase Pink songs from my memory. Thanks and good night).

WAIT. WAIT A MINUTE UP IN HURR.

We are in shock.

We just saw Barack Obama’s signature…and…

signature

we think that’s in pen.

You know what this means…

The world is seriously ending. 

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