The Fear About Things That Won't Kill Us Is Killing Us
It really isn't a tall order to scare Americans these days, and in particular our delicate representatives in Washington. Ebola, ISIS, 10-year old children on our southern border. This is the stuff of nightmares, and no amount of money is too big to spend on keeping them all far, far away, even though they've killed virtually no Americans.
Lindsey Graham can barely get ISIS out of his mouth before blowing his shpadoinkle and screeching "we may all get killed!" Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., did him one better, imagining Ebola-infected members of ISIS entering the United States as human WMDS. Then there's former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who while remodeling himself after the Patriots as a generic New England product, has become convinced that kids with Ebola are about to come rushing across the southern border like Pancho Villa.
Meanwhile, returning from la-la land to our regularly scheduled program, 86 people died in the United States today from gunfire. Just like the day before. Much like the 86 who will die tomorrow. Nobody died from Ebola, or ISIS or Honduran children, unless it was in a goofball-induced, Louie Gohmert fever dream. Funny, then, that you won't hear these very same tricorne-wearing town criers utter a word about this preventable sickness that is genuinely killing Americans.
This is only made that much worse by the grim statistics we augmented on Friday. We had our 87th—yes 87th—school shooting since Newtown. If this doesn't shock you at least somewhat, you've been living here too long. This time it was near Seattle, where another troubled young man got his hands on a gun in a society where we don't make it much of a challenge for children.
As the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence made clear in a recent report called "The Truth About Kids and Guns," he and the one young woman he killed would have only made up two of the 2,703 child and teen firearm deaths in America in 2011. That is seven children and teens killed by gunfire each and every day in America. It's a scandal.
Perhaps even more scandalous, however, is what Brady pointed out in a website they released this past week, showing just how bought off our politicians are by the lunatic lobby known as the National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as their fellow travelers the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA). Basically, we are talking about 90 percent of the Republican Party, and enough Democrats to make you feel dizzier than Bristol Palin at an Alaskan house party.
Luckily, the website and a parody video were created by the hilarious Adam McKay, writer, director and producer behind Will Ferrell films such Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. During happier moments, it is hilarious to watch the corrupted among Congress displayed as "Lap Dogs" and rated on a "Lap Dog Scorecard" at the site, which McKay made sure to tell me "is not meant to be an insult to lap dogs, who actually serve some purpose."
Friday also brought us yet another tragic police shooting, another epidemic we alone suffer from among high income countries, because we allow any angry stooge with a grudge and not-much cash to become a cop killer, no questions asked, no background check performed. This time it was in Sacramento, where two sheriff's deputies were murdered.
This is madness, and it is what is actually killing over 30,000 Americans a year, much of which—if approximately every single other high-income country is examined—can be prevented. Not so says the NRA, while its funders and board members, the Brownell family, use Ebola fears to unveil their new "Pandemic Survival Kit," which somehow doesn't tell you how to survive the destruction wrought by the family business. Or looking directly into Mitch McConnell’s eyes.
Yet, there’s hope, because in the very state where this school shooting occurred, there is a chance to make gun laws tougher in November. There will be an initiative on the Washington State's ballot—I-594—to create universal background checks, which looks likely to win. If you live in Washington, you must go out and vote for it, and otherwise let everyone you know who lives there that it must be supported. Washingtonians were lucky to have philanthropist Nick Hanauer spearhead its placement on the ballot from the beginning, and now facilitate its passage. Its success will inspire other similar measures around the country.
Otherwise, we must fight for what California just accomplished, in other states, a "gun violence restraining order," to get more guns out of the hands of those deemed dangerous by a court. Funding the proliferation of smart gun technology, preventing all who have committed domestic violence from accessing guns and closing the loophole that currently allows those on terror watch lists to buy assault weapons or .50 caliber rifles that can take down aircraft, are also just a few of the more worthy reforms.
The manipulation of fear about things that won't kill us, is killing us. By ensuring we don't pay attention to the real killers in America.