Held hostage by terrorists and the gun lobby

Forrest Johnson

I’m sorry to say, but this nation has fallen prey to the terrorists and the gun lobby. We may poke at the root causes of our fear and anxiety with a 10-foot pole, but we eventually drift away from the conversation and accept that our lives will be different, fearful and free. There will be more terrorists and mass shootings. Accept that. Don’t question that. Protect yourself.
The terrorists no longer hijack a plane and make their demands. In 2001 the plane became a weapon, and now we’re all hostages. And mass shootings have no message other than for society to ask how we could let this happen, how we’ve become such hostages within our own society.
The terrorist has accomplished the goal of making us fearful, and the gun lobby will again try to convince us we are free to be fearful.
Fatalism is the new religion when it comes to guns and national security.
Our only answer seems to be taller fences and more security in our homes and public spaces, with the freedom to pack heat. The innocence of children has been lost. And by our inaction in addressing these problems, we’re teaching that fatalism to a whole new generation. Our only action has been inaction.
We remain scared of our own shadow, armed to the teeth. Toss in a cloudy definition of the Second Amendment, and I worry that we will again avoid the discussion entirely.
Our thousands of warheads offer no protection against this menace. The armed citizenry eye each other warily, guns tucked in a waistband, stashed under the car seat, in a drawer. We tiptoe through the security line,  mindless as cattle.
Gun violence is rampant, but strangely, mass shootings seem the preoccupation of suburban malcontents and loners, denizens of screwball websites and internet worlds. These are people with faces lit up by a computer screen, not sunshine.    
Instead of acknowledging that we’re held hostage by fear, we arm ourselves in the delusion that we can be safe. Brothers shoot little brothers by mistake. Hunters with anxious trigger fingers shoot their friends by mistake. Loners lost in worlds eerily devoid of empathy shoot innocents mistakenly deemed enemies.
Only in America can there be a mass killing after which gun and ammo sales go up. The internet hums with conspiracy theories, and the apocalypse becomes acceptable as long as you have enough ammo to fend off the angry hordes. But there are no hordes, no armed immigrants massing at the border. We’re held hostage by the gun lobby and armed loners lost in worlds eerily devoid of empathy.     
Damn the Second Amendment. Writing it at a time when it took nearly a minute to reload a musket, the Founders never imagined a nutty kid dressed in combat gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons and 400 rounds of ammo in 30-round clips attacking a school full of children. Believe me, if the Founders had faced such utter destruction on the battlefields of Lexington and York, there would likely be additional language, more specific language, in that particular amendment.
I don’t know the answer. There are many issues at play in this land of 300 million guns, the land with the highest death rate by shooting in the world. We may argue about root causes, argue about troubled lives and depression, abandonment and crime, issues shared across so many cultures. What defines us, what separates us from all other cultures, are the hundreds of millions of guns at our disposal.
What is the American fascination with guns? Is it mythology, the Wild West? The false notion of absolute individual liberties? What is the fascination? Can the question be answered in clear fashion, or is it another of those emotional forays that end up hiding within the Second Amendment and therefore can’t be asked? How does that firearm fascination intersect with the loners in a world eerily devoid of empathy?
We have to ask those questions of ourselves. We can’t be held hostage. The notion that “guns don’t kill, people do” is false. The tool becomes the person, the mayhem, the decider. The two can’t be separated. The gun suddenly holds the gunman hostage.
Like the notion of terrorism, the gun has taken this nation hostage.