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An Open Letter To All Americans: Shame On You!

By Jim Taylor

December 23, 2012 "Al Jazeera" --  The Sandy Hook shooting should not have surprised you. It’s simply the most recent in a series of multiple murders. Since 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed into a tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin and started picking off random victims, the pattern has been depressingly familiar. The list of massacres rolls off the tongue like a litany: Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Fort Hood, Nickel Mines, Oak Ridge, Sandy Hook…

Has no one set it to music yet?

It’s always the same – go to a place where people gather, where they think they’re safe – a school, a theatre, a place of worship, a shopping mall -- and mow them down.

You call America “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” Nonsense. Only the cowardly hide behind high-powered rifles, pumping bullets into helpless children. And where’s the freedom when elementary schools and hospitals have to practice lockdown procedures?

John Cory writes, “The unthinkable has become a normal occurrence for which we have to train our children and grandchildren...”

You let this happen. Because you were afraid of standing up to idiots who believe bullets work better than brains. For the sake of avoiding conflict, you didn’t confront neighbours, gun store owners, and politicians who grovel at the altar of the National Rifle Association.

Tell me, how many Americans have been killed by socialist conspiracies or communist cells? You don’t know, do you? Nor do I. But I know it isn’t 87 a day. That’s how many die by getting shot. Over 30,000 unnecessary deaths a year.

And the NRA defends this record. America already has one gun for every adult. Yet the NRA claims that increasing the number of guns will make Americans safer – they’ll be able to defend themselves.

You moderates, who haven’t sold your souls to the NRA, who occupy the vast middle ground of sensible people, you let this happen. Yes, you.

I submit that the National Rifle Association is the most dangerous organization in your country. It has 4.3 million members. That’s barely one per cent of your adult population. But you let them lead your country’s legislators around by the noses. Or perhaps by their wallets -- $17 million of political payoffs last year alone.

And you let them use their favorite weapon – the Second Amendment. Without that clause about “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” the NRA would be shooting blanks. They would have to defend the right of deranged gun owners to slaughter innocent children. Instead, they can take the moral high ground, defending idealized “constitutional rights.”

In all the rhetoric pumped out since the Sandy Hook tragedy, I have not heard one commentator – not even professional iconoclast Michael Moore – suggest that the Second Amendment should be scrapped.

Why not? If Amendments can be added, they can be removed.

The Second Amendment made sense when the States – all thirteen of them – feared seizure by European empires. The fledgling country needed an armed (and regulated) militia that could be called up instantly.

Does anyone seriously believe that James Madison intended to ensure Adam Lanza’s right to fire hundreds of rounds into huddled six- and seven-year-old schoolchildren?

Far from providing security against external invaders, the NRA has distorted the Second Amendment into the right to take up arms against America’s own government. The Constitution defines that as treason, not reason

Here’s William Rivers Pitt, writing for Truthout, “You're going to defend yourself against a government that has nuclear weapons, stealth bombers, drones, SEALs and the United States Marine Corps with your piddly-ass AR-15? Good luck…”

I don’t like guns, but I cannot condemn them totally. As long as criminals carry guns, police will need them too. Park rangers may need guns to defend themselves against attacks by bears or enraged moose.

But no one needs an AK-47 to bring down a deer. Or a Bushmaster with a 100-round clip to chase off burglars. Or a 9mm Glock to blast marauding squirrels off the bird feeder.

I’m moved by the heroism of Sandy Hook teachers and administrators who put their own lives on the line to protect their students. But the effort to prevent Adam Lanza’s killing spree should have started long before he shot his way into the school.

An unholy alliance of literalist Christians and libertarians have wrapped bullets and the Bible in the American flag and called it patriotism. And you let them get away with it. You failed to challenge them to live the faith they claim to have received from Jesus – to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to love rather than hate….

Instead of risking your own lives for what you believed in, you risked your children’s lives.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Jim Taylor is a Candian author and freelance journalist. He can be reached at jimt@quixotic.ca


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