Like many, many parents and grandparents around this country, Lucy and I had the experience of learning of a mass shooting in a school in the city where our grandchildren live. Fortunately, our son-in-law had the presence of mind to text us, before the news broke, that his sons were safe and that the attack had happened at another school a half-mile from theirs. So, we didn’t go through a dreadful period of wondering if our grandchildren had been shot. Although their kids weren’t involved, our daughter and son-in-law had to confront random killing in a new way — in their very own neighborhood at school like theirs with victims like their children. A girl who was killed had attended preschool with one of my grandsons.
While driving today, I heard on the radio the audio portion of a video being shown on CNN. It was bodycam footage of the police intervention at the school where the killings occurred. The footage showed in great detail the seconds leading up to the shooting of the perpetrator — to me, disaster porn. I resolved not to watch the video, which was already appearing on television screens across the country. Did I need to know more details about these sad and grisly murders? There are people who will watch that video and rejoice that the cops got there so quickly and did their job so expertly. And I too am glad that they prevented more killing, unlike their counterparts in Uvalde, TX. But that is all beside the point.
Later in my drive, I heard the first reaction from Republicans in the House and Senate. They were unanimous in their resolve not to consider new gun control legislation, specifically a ban on assault weapons. They cared more about their NRA rating and pumping up their gun-loving base than they did those six dead people in Nashville. Then I heard the President’s plea for action, in which he took pains to mention twice that gun owners, on the whole, favor enhanced background checks. This is a familiar Democratic sop to gun people — that they are mostly good. We all know that already and it is not the point.
Democrats are afraid to say out loud what the problem is — too damn many guns and the wholesale availability of weapons meant for armies in wartime. Our country is in love with lethal weapons – the more lethal, the better. It is time for good people -gun owners and those of us who don’t wish to own guns – to call out everyone who stands against a) an assault weapons ban and b) enhanced background checks for purchasers of any weapon. Those two things must be passed for anyone to be able to say that we are a civilized country.
And another thing. Let’s place most of the blame for the gun violence epidemic where it belongs, with the gun companies that make bloody profits off the sale of firearms meant for killing people in wars. It is these companies — their management and owners/shareholders — whose lives are enriched by this carnage. Who are they?
Here are the big ones and their annual revenues:
American Outdoor Brands Corp. (formerly Smith & Wesson) — $247 million
Remington — $950 million
Sturm, Ruger — $595 million
Vista Outdoors — $3.2 billion (projected for FY ’23)
Here are their big shareholders:
Cerberus Capital Management (Remington’s owner)
Therefore, gun companies partially finance their operations through millions of mutual fund accounts that hold investors’ retirement savings. Mom and pop investors — mostly unwittingly — enable the carnage to continue because they don’t know what they own or what it enables. This isn’t to imply that those investors are to blame. They’re not. Our sick political system is to blame. Investing in gun manufacturing is business as usual for the financial giants listed above. If profits can be made, who are they to complain if some random customer uses their product to mow down some 3rd graders? And when the companies contribute millions to their lobbying arm, the NRA, to buy senators and representatives votes they are only safeguarding their market from something as dreadful as an assault weapons ban!
This should make us all sick. My blood pressure, which is never good, suddenly pushes upward when I think about it. But we are stuck with this state of affairs because in the US we have capitalism enabled by plutocracy. And plutocracy — a government in which the wealthy call the shots — has become our country’s form of government, not democracy,
Who in public life will stand up and call this system amoral? A system of government that cares more about the profits of gun manufacturers than about school children, concert goers, nightclub patrons who happen to be LGBTQ+, and Jews attending synagogue is amoral. Morality is left at the door of the Capitol where our elected leaders go to protect the profits of the capitalists. Who will call out this craven groveling at the trough of Big Business?
I confess that I wrote this in anger. So be it.