A Bloody Stage For Gun Culture-Cancer

Ed Raymond

The Deafening Sounds Of Silence

What have you heard from the Trumpistan gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, and members of The Best Congress Money Can Buy since the Parkland shooting? I thought of Simon and Garfunkel’s great song “The Sounds of Silence” while waiting for responses. LInes in the third stanza stand out: “No one dared disturb the sound of silence/ ‘Fools, said I,’ You do not know/ Silence like a cancer grows.”   Where was Wayne LaPierre and the NRA? He always displays his courage by going into hiding after mass killings until, as he says, “The hysteria disappears.” Wayne is an expert at “duck and cover” and “cover your ass.” The silence from NRA headquarters was deafening. It took Wayne eight days to climb out of his toxic bunker and deliver a fascist rant at CPAC. Maybe the NRA was busy scribbling big campaign checks to The Best Congress Money Can Buy or looking for more “good guys with guns.” 

We’ve had thousands of mass killings in our history, but the modern gun culture-cancer started in 1989 when a Stockton, California gun nut fired 107 rounds at teachers and young children on an elementary school playground. We should remember that President H.W. Bush worked to ban assault rifles and their look-alikes in the same year. Like malignant melanoma, the gun culture-cancer has metastasized to thousands of mass killings all over the country. Parkland is probably not the latest when this is published. We have about one mass killing a day now, and the next one could be in Fargo or Washington, D.C. tomorrow. Now we average 33,000 firearm deaths per year and over 100,000 wounded. We average over two dozen children and toddlers killed and wounded by firearms every day. Using cancer terms, we are now in Stage Four and approaching termination for the gun culture-cancer.

Stage Five Gun Culture-Cancer: Third Graders Selling Raffle Tickets

We should recognize we are in the final stages of gun cancer, when immediately after Parkland, third graders at South Elementary School at Neosho, Missouri continued to sell raffle tickets for an AR-15 to benefit a traveling baseball team.  The gun had been donated by one of the fathers of the baseball players. He co-owns Black Rain Ordnance, a gun shop in Neosho. Critics of the raffle fired off many admonitions. Dan Weaver responded on Facebook: “Are you all tone deaf? AR-15 kills 17 so you raffle a gun for child sports? Lord, people, wake the hell up. Justify all you want but you are wrong, period.” People in other states responded they wanted to buy tickets. This is a sign Stage 4.9 or Stage 5 of the gun culture-cancer is upon us.

The Parkland massacre is the latest important mass killing because it took place in an upper-middle class city of 32,000 rated as the safest city in Florida. It is a modern gated community with beautiful parks, bike and horse paths, and $600,000 homes. But any child who needs to have the police come to his home 39 times because of behavior issues, has ten rifles in his possession (including an AR-15), has no friends, loves to kill birds and animals, has carved himself up with a knife, was assigned to special education behavioral classes much of his life, is a human time bomb. The school district, its special education staff, state authorities, the FBI, local law enforcement, local medical staffs, and the culture of death of the NRA share the burden of the 17 murders. 

I have experience with children like this because I was a high school principal for 11 years and an elementary principal for eight years in Fargo. The Parkland high school has 3,300 students. Every large high school has “Handle With Care” and “Do Not Open This Side Up” kids. They demand constant watching and care by all authorities—including parents and all those “in the village.” It really does take a village to raise children. But there is a much larger mass killing than Parkland to use in pointing out what must be done to solve the gun culture-cancer in a country that leads the universe in firearm deaths.

The Mandalay Bay Shooting Reveals A Lawless Gun Culture-Cancer Society

Stephen Paddock used 12 AR-15 models with bump stock attachments with 30-round magazines to fire over 1,100 rounds in less than ten minutes into a crowd of 22,000 people attending a country music festival in Las Vegas. He killed 58 and wounded a total of 851 in the combat zone. (The 1791 decision to include firearms in the Constitution was based on a flintlock musket that fires two rounds a minute. It’s called the Second Amendment.) Paddock pointed out the most important element in containing firearm deaths. We have to get rid of any long barrel semi-automatic weapons that can fire more than three rounds without changing clips or magazines. A civilian should not have a firearm that fires bullets at 3200 ft. per sec. or one that has more than a three-round clip. All of the rest of hundreds of gun control laws won’t mean crap unless these models are made illegal and melted down. Other countries have done it. Buy them back and melt them into rebar. Make it a felony to own one. Enough is enough. 

Since 20 first graders were slaughtered at Sandy Hook we have counted 1,600 mass killings. We had 346 mass killings in 2017. If we don’t get rid of AR-15 models, go out and buy stock in funeral homes, gun manufacturers, and any company involved with emergency health care.                                                                                                                                             The Ten minutes of shooting by Paddock will probably cost us billions over this lifetime. We need to calculate that. He put 58 in caskets or in urns and 851 in Vegas hospitals. 422 of the wounded were struck by gunfire while 429 were wounded by concrete and metal shrapnel or injured while running to escape the bullets. Some victims are paralyzed for life, others lost organs and body parts, and many will suffer from wounds and PTSD for the rest of their lives. 

Paddock bought 33 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the last year of his twisted life. Give me one good reason why he was able to. The authorities who tried to find a motive for his actions couldn’t find one. Did he kill 58 because he lost money at the Vegas tables? Was he insane?  Why in hell was he able to buy tracer ammo from a gun dealer?  The only time I used tracers I was a Marine Corps heavy machinegun platoon commander. I lined up water-cooled Browning M1917A1 machineguns that could fire 450 to 600 rounds per minute without having the barrel melt. Tracers were used to establish a field of fire in front of our position.  

Republican Paul Ryan: “This Is Not The Time To Jump to Some Conclusion, Not Knowing The Facts” 

And why doesn’t The Best Congress Money Can Buy have the facts? They passed a law in 1996 at the behest of the NRA that no federal funds could be used “to advance or promote gun control.” Congress eliminated money going to the Centers for Disease Control for researching gun violence. The Republicans have been using the “ignorance” excuse for 22 years. During the last forty-year period when we had 2,000 deaths from diphtheria, polio, cholera, and rabies, the National Institutes of Health granted 486 research awards to study these diseases. 

During that same forty-year period four million Americans were killed or wounded by firearms. How many research awards were made to study gun violence during that time? Three. Gun violence is the least-studied leading cause of death in the U.S. We need facts instead of The Best Congress Money Can Buy whimpering “thoughts and prayers.” The NRA culture of death challenges all potential solutions to gun violence by saying we have to prove they would work. Going down the slippery slope to gun control, they say. Well, that slope is slippery from the bloody bodies of millions of Americans.

To Those Who Want To Arm Teachers And “Harden” Schools

    Take a few hours off and do the following: Google the high school site in Parkland so you get a drone’s view of the buildings and grounds for 3,300 students. Most of the buildings for a large high school are open at least 16 hours a day. Ask the police to staff it with guards for two shifts. There are dozens of outside doors. If you are in Fargo, drive around Davies, South, and North High Schools. They have a total of over 4,000 students. Plan your defenses and do the math. Survey the school staff and see how many want to “conceal and carry.”

I see Rush Limbaugh is pushing the NRA lines about schools having “concealers and carriers” among staff. That’s the dumbest idea in the NRA and Trump line. A society that wants to “harden” its schools with screening devices, armed guards, and bulletproof doors to protect its children is simply admitting it is living in a prison itself already dominated with weapons and bad guys. By hardening the schools, such a society will find they have developed prisons for its children. The NRA gun culture-cancer has to be destroyed first-- because its only reason for existence now is selling guns for blood money. 

We Are Living In A Bloody Prison Compared To The Rest Of The Developed World

Because we have surrendered to the NRA culture-cancer and the Republicans of the Best Congress Money Can Buy, we are actually living in a prison saturated with blood. We have 4.4% of the world’s population and 42% of the guns. The facts are we are ten times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. If we compare ourselves to the top 22 best-developed countries, we are 25 times more likely to be killed by firearms. Our firearm-related suicides are eight times higher than other high-income countries. We also have a much higher level of violence, primarily because of our high rates of death by firearms.

Comparing ourselves to other high-income countries, Americans are seven times more likely to die from violence and six times more likely to be killed with a firearm. Even though we have only half of the population of the top 22 countries combined, Americans account for 82% of all gun deaths, 90% of all women killed by firearms, 91% of all children under the age of 14 killed by firearms, and 92% of all young people between the ages of 15 and 24 killed by firearms. When we apply these statistics to murder, firearms are the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 15 to 24, and the third leading cause of death of persons aged 25 to 34. Compared to the same age groups of other countries, Americans aged 15 to 24 are 49 times more likely to die by firearms, and those Americans aged 25-34 are 32 times more likely to be killed by firearms. We average 33,000 deaths and 100,000 wounded each year. The NRA gun culture-cancer has probably metastasized to Stage Five for this “country of the free and the home of the brave.” LaPierre keeps talking about “individual freedoms.” He sounds just like Big Brother in George Orwell’s “1984.” Read it.