Guns for «freedom». USA before a historic challenge

Christmas is around the corner, the scene is familiar and expectations predictable: schools close down for the holidays; pupils toss their class books aside for a week or two. If you are a 6- or 7-year old, Christmas holidays may indeed look very long.  In many countries snow is a must along with the snowman with the carrot nose.  And Santa Claus in his emblematic white beard, old-style wired glasses and huge black boots; a benign face, someone between V. Hugo, L. Tolstoy and G. Bachelard.  Needless to say, the house has a fire place, and it is alit.

Parents, too, know what to expect more or less: increased expenses, lots of noise and probably a bit of sibling bickering, a certain feeling of reassurance, gift wrapping, inviting kitchen scents reminiscent of childhood, friends, and visitors.
But for 28+1 parents this Christmas will be sealed in a different, tragic way. Fate had it so.

I am writing of course about the most recent in a series of school tragedies that occurred in a primary school in Connecticut/USA, whereat 20 little kids and 8 adults dropped dead under the gun of a 20-yr old intelligent yet profoundly disturbed guy. In passing: before embarking onto this insane killing spree, he shot his own mother.

It’s not the first time the whole world gets shocked at such news coming from the land God has blessed, and it won’t certainly be the last one. According to estimates from US sources, this very moment there are no less than 270 million weapons of all types and calibers in the possession of ordinary citizens, which places this nation on top of the list with the highest percentage of weaponry per capita.  In 2010 more than 30,000 deaths (suicides, homicides and accidents put together) were related one way or another to gun ownership. It may not be an overstatement to say that the American nation’s collective memory has been branded by the mythic (and highly distorted) imagery of the “Wild West” and the dramatic assassinations of Martin Luther King and J. Kennedy.
The acronym ARA does certainly not look familiar to you, but it is the infamous American Riffle Association the president of which had been the late Ben Hur, alias Charlton Heston. ARA has a base of about 4mio members, which makes it the single most influential lobby in the country, ahead even of the auto industry.
Between Chartlon Heston, and James Dean, the former takes it all.

For many fanatical supporters of the right to own, carry, and use weaponry (gun ownership is protected under the 2nd Amendment), a gun epitomizes freedom to defend one’s own liberties and rights, property, and family. As I read somewhere on the American blog-sphere, “God created men; Sam Colt made them equal”.

Other arguments in favor of the gun collection cult relate to the “accuracy of shooting”, “the beauty of design and the robustness of construction”, “the rarity of the model”….
Wow. I might be able to remotely understand aesthetics, but these people are also collecting millions of bullets. And, given or not given an opportunity, they use them too. Probably for the rarity of the act.

It goes beyond that, assuming there is any further to go. Lanza’s mother was also a fanatical collector of guns herself and a convinced survivalist. Societies like ours are not particularly familiar with this term, if at all, even though the word speaks for itself. In a nutshell, survivalism is a theory according which the world will be destroyed on a doomsday with only a few hundred thousands who will survive on the planet.  The term became quite popular in the good old frenzied days of cold war, McCarthyism et al. Today, it is more about insane tele-evangelists and mega church holy nutcases preaching preteristic Armaggedons to the poor-minded, who cannot but read the scripture to the letter. Since survivalists want to survive at all costs, they train themselves at everything you can fancy:  from mild boy scout tips and tricks and “how-to”  in the house backyard, to hardcore, Rambo-style survival in a simulated Burmese jungle. Except that the guns are real.

Lanza’s divorced mother was a victim of this apocalyptic neurosis and trained her son in worshiping the metallic toys.
More and more voices against this deplorable cult may be raised these days, but I frankly cannot tell how many little angels have to be sacrificed at the altar of paranoia, profit, obsession or mere “ethic culture” before the American nation decides to reassess its love for lethal guns.

The scenes and photos of horrified 7-yr old kids, the stark bodies of their classmates and heroic teachers who tried to act as human shields, and the distorted faces of mothers, mobile at hand, who reminded me of Munch’s “scream”, cannot be easily wiped away. 28 families will never enjoy the innocence and reassuring feeling of Christmas; this time around they will be joined spiritually by hundreds of millions of other families, mothers and fathers. For the latter Christmas will be bittersweet. Sweet because of the immense relief that their family are not “in the shoes” of those 28. Bitter (assuming they realize that much) because they know they can do nothing to deserve it.

  1. Ο/Η Dr Deepa Kotwani λέει:

    u shud be a newspaper reporter K!!! Am amazed with the superb English and even more with the content. Pure journalist kind of an article:-)

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