Coming at you from the Mass-shooting Capitol of the world. It feels odd to write a piece on a school shooting since it’s such a frequent event. Might as well report that California is sunny. But ‘lo and behold, here ya go. That’s what I’m writing and that’s what you’re reading. What’s caused this God fearing country to become a cult of gun-nuts hell-bent on preserving the freedom to bear arms and kill on a whim? What matter of bizarre factors have created a federal love affair with boom-sticks which leave families torn asunder and grieving? Move over baseball, the real American pastime is mass slaughter. We got a historical knack for such occasions.

My thoughts, condolences, and heart go with the families of these victims and the children who have to deal with the psychological trauma of these events. And these are sent alongside the righteous prayers of every politician pocketing donations from the National Rifle Association. But what do all these positive feelings and thoughts get us? Rhetorical question. Don’t answer. Let’s just ruminate on the fucked state of this God forsaken experiment in corporate freedom. Sorry. I meant plain ol’ freedom.

Art by Rachel Toles

I believe it was the venerable Bill O’Reilly who said that gun violence was “the price of freedom…The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.” Wisdom from the sage of our times. The beforehand quoted statement is one that fills me with contempt and disgust. But that’s just me. That isn’t a sentiment shared across the country. It might even be a minority opinion.

Disclosure: I am a gun owner. And I love guns. The image of Malcolm X holding off hooded men at gunpoint left a significant impression on me. To be strong, black, and able to defend yourself against crazy white supremacists? Sign me up. Yet Malcolm X still got shot in the head by someone who went out and bought a gun. Call me crazy but I think it should be a little bit more difficult for me to buy a gun. Honestly, I don’t even know where my gun came from. But here I am holding it as only a tool of death should be caressed.

The narrative of America seems intrinsically tied to gun ownership. As if every gun-toting citizen wants to form an active militia. Which is the whole reason we have a right to bear arms. It is for the occasion that our government becomes so grotesque that us regular citizens must dismantle its infrastructure with violent insurrection. But here we are, waving our guns around for the sake of having guns, rather than using them for their actual purpose, a purpose that our government has actively suppressed since the first armed insurrection of George Washington’s time. The strongest example of such a suppression I can think of would be the dissolution of the Black Panther Party. Law abiding citizens exercising their rights as Americans to stand against a government that was (and still is) oppressive to Black America. But as always, these movements fail. The common citizen cannot evoke the essence of Constitutional Rights. That privilege is reserved for companies, lobbyists, and politicians. What we get instead are death toys that easily fall into the hands of children or people who want to kill children. Still, the heads of the NRA probably sleep great on their bed of blood-stained cash.

On February 22, the NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre, gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. NRA lobbyists and politicians came together to warn us all of the dangers of the “European socialists” who are seeking to strip away every American right that they possibly can. Ted Cruz, Vice President Pence, and Security of Education Betsy Devos all took time out of their busy schedule to attend this massive celebration of the perverse, symbiotic relationship between the NRA and the Republican party. His Blessed Orangeness, Donald Trump, also took a moment to tweet his support of LaPierre, saying that the folks of the NRA “love their Country and would do the right thing”.

Art by Rachel Toles

In an attempt to whip the crowd into a patriotic orgy, LaPierre stated that if these socialists (I believe he’s referring to me but I’m 90% certain that I’m not European) “take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid they get the White House again, our Americans freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.” Prime propaganda. Stir the American fear of socialism, flaccidly blast Obama, and invoke the trusted name of your god. The NRA and these legally bribed politicians are cowards. They are content to blame everyone but themselves for contributing to a problem. Maybe the school system has failed kids. Maybe the FBI could have stopped this murderer. Maybe there should be more improvements to the systems in place to help the mentally ill. (these Republican shit-heads complaining are the same ones who vote to slash funding to our education system and government funded healthcare so…). These areas could be improved. But it doesn’t matter if you can still walk into a shop and buy a gun. Not every white boy who decides to shot up a school or theater or church is mentally ill. Some people are just terrible and I don’t think we’re gonna get a “you can’t buy a gun if your an asshole” gun screening law.

The National Rifle Association has its hands in politics. There is no way around this fact. The NRA is one of the primary contributors to the Republican Party and its constituencies. We could drop numbers but I take little pleasure in reiteration of commonly held knowledge but, you know, fuck it, I gotta hit a word count. Trump’s campaign received considerable contributions from the NRA, individuals from within the NRA, and PACs associated with the NRA. Ted Cruz received $360,727 in funds for his presidential campaign. And the list goes on but you get the picture. The NRA and its affiliates toss money at Republicans faster than gun violence statistics rise. What do we take away from this melding of the private sector of gun cultists and our government? The distinction between business and government seems almost laughable at this point in time. Yet here we are. Complicated? Yes. Disastrous? Ask the grieving families.

The average citizen has no say in the matter. Perhaps the average citizen believes that most people should have guns. They believe that every American citizen should be armed and mobilized to stand against the injustices of their country. But I do not believe that is true. Our country is still holding dearly to the idea that good people with good guns will protect the weak and the innocent. But this naive ideology comes at the cost of innocent lives. Lest we forget Trayvon Martin as an example of what happens when individuals who believe they are potential heroes perceive an armed threat.

When our leaders are taxed with coming up with a solution, they word-vomit patriotic platitudes and perform levels of mental gymnastics that would even leave those fluent in Double-Speak confused. Trump and others actually suggested that teachers carry guns. Can we just let that nonsense sink in? Not only should teachers be required to instill a love of learning in your children, they should also be expected to whip out a piece and merc’ anyone of their students who decides to go on a murderous rampage. The sheer insanity of the implications of having teachers carry guns to possibly shoot their own students is rotting my brain. What the fuck next? Walls (didn’t see that one coming) and snipers? For fucking schools? Teachers don’t get paid enough to teach. And now you wanna expect them to be a crack shot with the steel will to kill? It’s as if the Republican party believes the USA is some kind of B-movie. Teachers strapped with AK’s and grenades. How the fuck do people even come up with this shit? Soon all teachers will be ex-military in a police state school system. Social ramifications be damned. It’s not like armed guards at schools regularly harass and brutalize black students substantially more than other students. Yeah, let’s give more people guns and ignore the underlying racism that often plays into the social power structures of society.

During High School, my principal straight up said that I couldn’t take honors courses because she wasn’t sure that someone of my background would be able to keep up with the other students. Translation: you’re a little too black to be reading big books. If school administration can harbor unconscious biases about the intelligence of a student, what’s to keep them from acting of similar biases about the predisposition towards violence that a lot of fucking people hold about black and brown folk. Cops can already kill unarmed folks without prosecution. It’d be a great idea to put more of them in schools. Why not just go full circle and give each kid a gun to go along with their textbooks?

Deconstructing the gun narrative of this country cannot be explored in 1500 words. This mess of political, corporate, and ideological conflations could be discussed and argued for the next hundred years. But we must acknowledge a problem exists. Fault lies in many different places. And to assume that the American people have a say in this situation while the NRA is lining the wallets of our political representatives makes me want to ugly laugh. Gun manufactures and non-profits benefit from arming our state, trigger happy citizens, and, god forbid, future school systems. We citizens don’t. Buying a gun is making in investment in taking a human life. And since none of us are trying to overthrow the government, we ain’t making good on that investment. Our gun crisis is a political satire dripping innocent blood. But honestly, what could be more American than killing innocent people? Guns ain’t going anywhere. Remember folks, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. So it’s very important that these people can get some god-damn guns. Nothing says freedom like a school shooting. The ringing in your ears after your classmate gets shot is the sound of Freedom resounding proudly. Fuck the Liberty Bell, we got the AR-15.