May 14, 2009

A hard week for seven year-olds

7 year-old shot in Texas
7 year-old shot in North Carolina
7 year-old shot in Florida

In Texas, a family in two SUVs stopped outside a rural home at 9 p.m. in the evening to allow their children to step off the road and relieve themselves. Unfortunately, they stopped in front of a home owned by a couple armed and willing to kill in order to defend their personal property rights. A lot of facts are still unknown, but one child is dead, another child and two adults are wounded. The couple who did the shooting is now in jail facing charges of Aggravated Assault, but those charges might be raised to Capital Murder.

In North Carolina shooting broke out for still undefined reasons near a shopping area. A woman and her son down the street from where the shooting broke out were wounded by bullets that missed their intended target (whatever that might have been) and struck their home instead.

In Florida, a young boy originally said to be seven but now said to be ten was wounded when he and another child were playing with a gun. At first it was believed to be a drive-by shooting, but witnesses later reported the boys were playing with a gun. The article does not say where the children got the gun.

It is very unusual for so many articles involving children killed or wounded by firarms to hit the news services in such a short time. Other sources are pointing to a renewed call for reinstatement of the now-defunct "Assault Weapons Ban" to counter what some are calling "rising paramilitary activity by right-wing extremists." No doubt the sudden burst of dead and wounded children will add fuel to their fire. As if that were not enough, there is a new proposal to prohibit anyone on the FBI's "no-fly" list from owning or buying firearms. Try to keep in mind, not only does the FBI have trouble managing this list, the Department of Justice readily acknowledges it is filled with errors; also apparently some people in the DoJ think anyone who opposes the current administration is a terrorist.

I am deeply saddened by the children killed and wounded in the past week's violence. There is no excuse for shooting on someone who stops in front of your house but does not offer any threatening move. There is no excuse for not being aware of where your bullets will wind up if they miss your target. There is no excuse for leaving guns someplace where untrained people, especially children, can gain easy access to them. By the same token, it is impossible to create laws that would have effectively prevented any of these tragedies. Criminals, by definition, ignore the law.

So why does anyone feel that either banning semi-automatic rifles just because they look scary or preventing honest citizens who accidentally wind up on a random list at FBI headquarters from buying weapons is going to make America any safer? They don't, not really. They do know two things: many people who live in cities would be impressed if they pass these laws and anyone who would oppose their near total control on political power would be unable to offer real resistence if they were unarmed.

If you're reading this and you work in a small-town diner, own a mystic gift shop in a major shopping mall, or work programming games out in silicone valley somewhere, you're not going to understand why anything linked above is important. Except the children, of course. Almost anyone with a conscience will read about those children and feel some amount of grief. However, outside of the children, the chances are as long as you have a steady job and a reasonably content family you really don't care what Congress does or does not do, as long as it doesn't hurt your company, of course.

Unfortunately, we are all connected. Every action has a consequence and many of the consequences don't become clear until years after the action is taken. There are too many parallels between the current political and economic situation in the United States and the imposition of dictatorships or tyrannies down through history.

On the plus side, next year we will have the opportunity to recreate Congress. On the down side, there are far too many people in America who simply don't care, and won't care. At least, not until it is too late to save any of us.