Tuesday evening, just before 7, a huge tree fell half a mile from where I once lived. A man, who seconds before had been simply sitting in traffic, died when the tree crashed down on him as he sat in his car. It was a tragedy that could happen to any one at any time. Unexpected.
What happened next? Well, the tree’s twin across the way was cut down. Arborists are looking at nearby old, big trees, checking their health, determining if these trees, too, are dangerous. If so, they will be cut.
Of course that’s what they’re doing.
They are protecting human life. It’s the logical next step following such a tragedy. Of course, there will be traffic snarls and hassles as the old diseased trees are culled. It will be a huge pain for commuters. But, you know, that’s OK. I and just about everybody accepts a bit of inconvenience if it means that someone else won’t die. (Which doesn’t mean we won’t all grumble, natch.)
It’s the same with other stuff, too.
In the 60s and 70s, it became clear that fatalities in automobile accidents could be prevented by using seat belts. They became mandatory after a series of Swedish studies demonstrated that fatalities were dramatically reduced when car occupants involved in an accident had buckled up. Seat belts protect folks. Last year in this post I provided some statistics on the benefits of seat belts:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest statistics state that 15,147 Americans survived accidents in 2007 that would have been fatal without seat belts. That’s a lot of people saved by a law that doesn’t really inconvenience us all that much.
We do a lot of things to keep ourselves and our families safe. Of course we do. And when the danger comes from the unknown? Well, that’s when we ratchet up our actions to protect ourselves. It’s common sense.
Remember the Tylenol Murders? Twenty years ago, Tylenol, laced with cyanide, killed seven people in the Chicago area. The murders were never solved. But they did change our lives. Every time I struggle to open a package of virtually anything purchased in the United States, I think of that bastard, those murders. I hope he/she has a horrible case of rheumatoid arthritis in his/her hands and therefore has even more trouble opening those damn packages than the rest of us. I also hope they catch him/her.
It’s common sense to react protectively, isn’t it. It’s what we do as a species. It’s part of our evolutionary trajectory. It is the manifestation of the problem solver in all of us. Stay alive. Protect. Survive.
Well, that’s usually true.
Unless, of course, there is a random lunatic with a gun. Then, well, logic and common sense are suspended as we all enter the Twilight Zone.
Yes, when a guy (and they do all seem to be guys) who gets a bunch of guns (as in lethal weapons) and kills people, randomly, or by specifically targeting individuals, well then we double down on the 2nd Amendment. WE PROTECT HIS RIGHT TO DO IT! We let it happen again. And then, when it happens again, we are shocked, shocked.
Yup, when we should be shouting “STOP THIS MADNESS!” we instead cow-tow to the National Rifle Association and to the cowboys who are oh-so-sure that if they had only been there with their gun, well, then the outcome would be way different. If only ….
Bullshit. It is a fantasy.
Remember when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot? Nineteen people were shot that day at a local grocery story when a crazy person opened fire.
Did you know that seconds/minutes after the shooting, a man carrying his own gun came out of the store and saw somebody holding a gun on a man? Yeah, it’s true. Here’s a smidge of the story:
[Joe] Zamudio was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed. He ran to the scene and helped subdue the killer. Television interviewers are celebrating his courage, and pro-gun blogs are touting his equipment. “Bystander Says Carrying Gun Prompted Him to Help,” says the headline in the Wall Street Journal.
But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’”
But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.
Yeah. A big, fat mess. Mr. Zamudi would have added to the carnage, not helped. BECAUSE HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.
When a tragedy like today’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado, happens, there is only one person who knows pretty much what’s happening – the shooter. Yeah, the bad guy. Everybody else is reacting.
And no matter how cool, how brave, how well meaning a would be hero is in a situation, the sane gun owner is unlikely to shoot first. And if he/she doesn’t, the bad guy will. And unlike in the movies, in real life, you can’t just get back up.
It is really time that we all just accept the passing of the Cowboy Era. We have accepted other similar passings: The Middle Ages, The Age of Kings, The Age of Exploration. The Teen Years. Besides, the last gunfight at the OK Corral happened already. You missed it. Get over it. Move on.
How many more massacres are we going to allow before we stop folks from buying assault weapons, multiple guns that can kill multiple people? How many more deaths will it take?
We changed how every item we use every single day is packaged. Because of SEVEN deaths from tainted Tylenol. We took action to prevent the eighth and the eighth didn’t happen.
What’s the death toll from these random acts of violence with guns? At last count, it was, ummm, more than twelve. And that’s just for today.
What will it take for us to come to our senses?
Mr. Saturday night special
Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
Ain’t no good for nothin’
But put a man six feet in a hole