Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s the Guns, Stupid


    The bonds holding civilized societies together are very frail. Sometimes famine or draught or some natural disaster can thread those bonds, causing neighbor to turn against neighbor, seizing  what there is to get in order to survive. Less often does a society voluntarily loosen the bonds of civilization, choosing  the way of the savage—but I am afraid the United States has done so. Two couples went to a movie matinee showing at a theater in Florida. They did not know each other. One couple was older, the man in his early 70’s. The other was younger, the man in his early 40’s. The younger couple wound up sitting in front of the older couple, and while the coming attractions were on the younger man began texting  his 3-year-old daughter. The older man became annoyed; words were exchanged. The older man went to get the manager, but to no avail. The two men continued their angry exchange. Someone may or may not have thrown popcorn. The older man pulled a gun. The wife of the younger man, in a panic, put her hand in front of her husband but the older man shot and killed him.   It is expected that the older man will invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law or some variant in defending himself against a murder charge. In the commentary that has followed this tragedy I have heard TV deep thinkers ponder whether we have become “a society filled with rage” or whether  an “intermittent rage syndrome” explains the older man’s behavior.  No! We are a society which, through its lax gun laws, has allowed the minor frictions and petty annoyances of everyday life to become potentially lethal encounters. It’s the guns, stupid----and if we are going to vent  our anger let us do so by demanding sane gun laws as a necessary aspect of living in civilized society.   


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