I was supposed to write about small donation fundraising today, but history had something else in mind. If you know someone who is in need of a rage post about the death of innocent Americans, please
I realize that none of the civil rights movements that altered American society after 1945 are complete. I realize that many seem to be going backwards. But we need to start a new civil rights movement: the right to be free from gun profiteers and the politicians whose careers are supported by promoting gun violence.
Yesterday, I received a notification on my cell phone that, following the three massacres have occurred in two weeks, 14 elementary school children and their teacher (today, the death toll is 19 children and two teachers) had been killed by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas. My mind went blank.
I got up and went into the next room, where my spouse was quietly reading, and struggled to find the words I would need to deliver this news. “Someone just killed 14 kids and their teacher,” I squeaked. “How”—now I was trying to even have a coherent thought—” how can anyone hate children so much? How can anyone hate an elementary school teacher?”
Then I started to cry. Yes, libs really do cry. It’s what we do before we fight.
On a certain level, when I talked about hate, I was referring to the alleged shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, whose name I did not know yet. It is incomprehensible to me how a person could kill another human being except, perhaps, in self-defense. Much like the Sandy Hook, CT shooter, who shot his mother, and then went to an elementary school and killed 20 children, Ramos shot his grandmother, and then to Robb Elementary School to kill as many people as he could before he himself was killed.
But on a certain level, I am not talking about Ramos at all. I am talking about all the politicians who take money from the gun lobby, knowing full well that the more weapons we have sloshing around this country, and the fewer laws we have that control their sale and ownership, the more Americans will die. And it seems like these shooters favor the helpless: little children, elderly Black people, worshippers trapped in churches and synagogues. People who, you know, don’t shoot back.
After the Buffalo shooting, all I could think about was my mother—anyone’s mother—alone, drowning in her own blood, because she stopped off at the supermarket for a quart of milk. But like most people, I am also deeply affected by children being subjected to violent deaths. Indeed, I saw one only a few weeks ago at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, as I rushed to meet a family member in trouble. Lying on a gurney, with a big, wet, scarlet compression bandage still on his chest, a young man, perhaps 14, had been shot point-blank in the chest and was drenched in arterial blood.
I noticed two other things: he had a little fuzz on his lip, but had not yet started to shave, and his sneakers were bright, white and new. And no one who loved him was with him when he died. Like that boy, the children of Uvalde died terrified and alone. And their 38 parents will carry that memory for the rest of their lives.
Just to remind you, children are usually not shot at school. Most frequently, they die at home, at a friend’s house, or in the street from an accident, suicide, or murder. It isn’t just that adults buy guns: they don’t secure themIn 2019, a child or teenager was killed with a gun every 2 hours and 36 minutes. In 2020, gun injuries surpassed automobile accidents as the leading cause of death for kids under the age of 19: that’s 5.4 for every 100,000 kids, or 4,368 kids.
Who is responsible for this, aside from the political consultants who turned gun ownership into identity politics?
Let’s start with the Republican Party’s addiction to NRA money. In 2016, the NRA spent over $30 million to elect Donald J. Trump, up from $13 million in 2012. And the Senate? Here are some top grifters: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken $1.2 million from the NRA over the course of his career; Tom Cotton (R-AR), who has only been a Senator for a fraction of McConnell’s tenure, $1.9 million; Joni Ernst (R-IA) $3 million; Richard Burr (R-NC); Bill Cassidy (R-LA) $2.8 million. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who took $311,151 from the gun rights lobby in 2018, and Martha McSally (R-AZ) who took $228,233 in 2018 and $516,777 in 2020.
While there are Democrats who take donations from the gun lobby, 99% of that blood money goes to Republicans. Take a look at all the Texas Republicans who took NRA money in the 2018 cycle.
Then there is Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has been endorsed by the NRA since he first ran for Attorney General in 2002. Abbott is so broken up about the Uvalde massacre that he went to a campaign fundraiser only hours after the event. Along with Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Abbott will also give a scheduled talk at the NRA convention in Houston tomorrow night.
Abbott’s record of money for corpses may be the worst in the nation. He has presided over 106 civilian deaths at the hands of mass shooters since he took office in 2015. That year alone, Texans bought over a million weapons, and there were 21 mass shootings in which fifty people, six of them children, died. Abbott’s response? Weaken gun laws further by passing open carry. Dozens of Texans have been killed since for committing the crimes of going to school, shopping, and showing up at their jobs.
It gets better. On June 16, 2021, Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927, which made life even easier for psychotic killers to end the lives of innocent people. The law eliminated state handgun licenses, and a prior requirement that handgun owners be trained to use a weapon in order to legally own one. Texans bought 1.6 million weapons that year: that’s roughly 1 new handgun for every 14 adults in the state. Last year, Texas led the nation in gun ownership with 45%, or almost 15 million Texans with at least one gun in the home.
But here’s the thing: not content with arming the rest of the nation to the teeth, the Republican Party, the NRA, and gun manufacturers want to make the rest of us into Texas. In November, 2021, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed prepared to overturn a 1913 New York State law that requires ordinary citizens to demonstrate why they need a permit to carry a handgun.
They won’t stop there, either. There’s too much money at stake for too many people. So enough with the pointless outrage and fuck your thoughts and prayers: it’s time for a political movement whose only goal is to restrict and control gun ownership.
Remember Adam and Rebekah Neumann, who ran WeWork into the ground? Incredibly, people are still giving them money to fritter away. India’s Economic Times reports that the super-shady pair, who exposed their incompetence in a mandatory FEC report prior to WeWork going public, now have another $70 million to play with. It includes $32 million is in venture capital, and $38 million is in crypto tokens. Their new company is Flowcarbon, a carbon credit trading platform. What could go wrong? (March 25, 2022)
If you live in a red state or district and are sick of casting a fruitless ballot in every primary, here’s something you can do to help democracy: switch parties. That’s right, become a Republican so you can vote for the least awful Republican. “In places where electoral competition is lacking, primary elections by and large decide political outcomes,” Jonathan Robinson and Sean Trende write at The Atlantic. “So why not strategically vote in the other party’s primary?” For example, if just 20% of Democrats who gave Tim Ryan a resounding victory in the Ohio Senate primary had cross-registered Republican to vote for Matt Dolan, we wouldn’t have to worry about fascist J.D. Vance going to Washington. (May 24, 2022)
Replacement theory isn’t just a problem in the United States: it is a hallmark of fascism around the world. As Federico Finchelstein and Jason Stanley point out in the Los Angeles Times, Viktor Orbán’s speech at CPAC Budapest decried a “great European population exchange” as “a suicidal attempt to replace the lack of European, Christian children with adults from other civilizations—migrants.” As Finchelstein and Stanley explain, “The link between WRT and fascism is not accidental. WRT is a relatively recent label for old fascism. In terms of propaganda, it is a rebranding of the same thing, namely long-standing fascist paranoias and lies about invasion and racial and political replacement. WRT’s logic justifies mass violence. When it is normalized, it poses an existential threat to democracy and its ideals. It targets the very idea of common humanity that underlies them.” (May 24, 2022)
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Nicely done. Coherent rage...something of a feat.
Gun control is an easy issue to verbalize. You begin to focus on real issues when you mention the Replacement Theory and fascism. Deeper is the racism that is now being legitimatized publicly. We have Qualified Immunity for cops that shoot people of color with impunity. We have the US supporting fascism in Ukraine with its neo-Nazi heavy presence and control and their murdering and terrorizing the Russian speakers in Donbass to the tune of 14,000 recorded such acts since the US sponsored coup of 2014. The list of institutionalized attitudes and beliefs backed by corporate money--not just the gun manufacturers--is what is not only giving permission for such out-of-control violence but is actually demonstrating it as a corps value of the US. Democracy is only a word, a piece of the wonderful mythology we were all taught--bought right and left political people. It just does not exist. Censorship is increasing with US govt money in the millions going to the mainstream media to promote the mythological narratives. You even wrote about the self-censorship in your profession recently. I find that guns are not a good issue as they do not get us where we want to go. Years of such talk demonstrates this wrong focus. We need to focus and organize around issues that affect every working and poor person. That is how we build coalitions that are based on a real value of human life. And we need to focus on the anger that people feel over their lack of empowerment which is real. We need to write and talk and organize around who the real enemies are and how they are falsely dividing us and causing the frictions that erupt violently.