American School Shooting

Another day, another American school shooting. The predictable aftermath will be “thoughts and prayers” (although people use different words now because of the current climate of skepticism), another pointless debate over gun laws, and a few “never agains” and “never forgets”. Instead of those exercises in futility, I thought I would write about some other curious aspects of America’s deadly romance with guns.

Gun sales usually go up after mass shootings for a couple of reasons: Those who like to own guns worry that new gun control regulations may be enacted curtailing their freedoms; better buy more guns before it is too late. Those who are worried about their safety rush out to buy guns for self-defense. In other words, mass shootings are good for business – for the gun manufacturers. They even try to expand business by suggesting that all the potential victims should also consider arming themselves. Could it be that the gun manufacturers are secretly (or may be not so secretly) hoping for more school shootings? I mean, you cannot stay in the business of manufacturing weapons for killing and make money if all killing stops, right?

Mass shootings are, paradoxically, good for the people arguing for gun controls also. Each new killing spree is another strong argument underscoring the rightness of their position. Even for the media, mass shootings help bring in more viewership. I remember the time when I was a graduate student in the US, this hurricane (I think the name was Hugo) was coming in fast and furious, and CNN had key reporters stationed all over the predicted path, with dire warnings of death and destruction. The gloomy predictions went on for almost a week, and then suddenly, Hugo decided to turn away harmlessly off the east coast into the Atlantic, which made the CNN people almost visibly irritated, although they were saying things like thank god, sighs of relief and so on. The hurricane didn’t have the basic decency to stay the course, and it was bad for business. On a similar note, gun violence also is good for news media.

It may be way too skeptical to say it, but it looks as though the only people who suffer from mass shootings are the victims and their loved ones. Why would any law change for such a tiny minority?

Those who argue for unlimited gun access – I wonder what would happen if their kids or families got hurt in a random mass shooting. Would they still hold on to the belief that guns should be universally available? Have you ever seen a parent or a survivor who said, “Man, only if there were more guns in that class room…”

America lives in a fantasy land of superheroes with incorruptible moral compasses and unerring warrior instincts. So they dream of the “good guys” with guns who can stop the “bad guys” with guns, as though there are only these two categories. I think the real bad guys are not the shooters, but the ones who cynically squeeze every last penny of the blood money in every single mass shooting – the media, the gun lobbyists, the gun manufacturers, and in some small way, even bloggers like me. Like Milo Mindbender says, everyone has a share!