Something ought to be done, by golly

It was horrific.

Once again, my whole weekend was thrown into complete disarray by current events.

Last winter it was the shooting in Tucson of a Congresswoman and many others at a shopping center by a crazy man early on a Saturday.

That’s what everyone called it then: Horrific.

Lots of Very Important People appeared on TV all that weekend jawing long and loud about how bad it made them feel, and how their sympathies went out to the families of the victims and those victims who were still somewhat alive. Wow, I mean, some of them looked like it was their close relatives who had been shot or something.

Now, last month, it was a couple dozen more people – mostly really cute little kids – mowed down at a Connecticut elementary school by, by golly, yet another “deranged” person on a Friday. Yet another “senseless” act that disrupted my TV viewing plans and made me feel pretty uncomfortable to boot – really upset if I thought about it too long.

I had intended to watch a movie, maybe some light comedy to relax, some world news just to keep up, maybe a game show or two, and then on Sunday the Broncos. And now this. I had to spend days, actual days, hearing over and over about the tragedy.

Just like the last time – a horrific act carried out by an obviously psychotic killer. The crazy guy who did it this time was analyzed by the instant pundits (just add news story and stir) as mentally disturbed — now there’s a hard call — and many of our slack-jawed, yellow-bellied leaders again made vague noises about something being done to prevent or at least to lessen the frequency of these mass killings.

Just terrible they are. And there’s something about such a large number of innocent middle-class little white kids that makes it seem even more “horrific” than, say, when a pre-teenager gets gunned down in a Chicago ghetto or an LA barrio.

After all, these sorts of ends are written every day for our black and brown youngsters. Sure, it’s sad when a little minority child is hit by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting, and sure, it’s bad when this happens over and over periodically, but as a tragic act, the number of grade-school kids killed in Newtown surpasses an equal number of gang-related deaths in overall sadness, because people who choose to live in such crime-ridden neighborhoods must expect a certain amount of violence, and, well, they’ve got to bear some responsibility.

So few folks see a need for a national carrying-on about each and every shooting death in our decaying urban areas, even though we all agree it’s too darned bad.

But when you’re dealing with a bunch of apple-cheeked, blue-eyed little angels such as the Newtown victims, not to mention teachers and a principal who were helping them actualize their potential, that’s a little different.

As did the Tucson slaughter, this one called for a visit by the President and major statements from groups that concern themselves with such matters – the National Rifle Association, the Brady anti-gun campaign, mental-health groups and so on. Their bigwigs were universal in their condemnation of this latest “senseless” act even while the news media were saying the one piece of the puzzle – the “why” — was still to be answered. (As though this nut might have left a letter before he blew his own brains out that put everything into a rational context. As though somewhere still hidden there might be an explanation that will make us clutch our foreheads and exclaim, “Now I see — it makes so much sense!”)

So there were several days of chewing the fat over this latest blow to our sensitivities, more so than even over the Congresswoman’s blasting, it seemed, before the hubbub gradually began to die down, even though some more-radical members of the political class vowed it would be different this time.

Why, some politicians were so overwrought that they changed positions (slightly) on how much they supported interpreting the Second Amendment to mean all good citizens should be able to own as much firepower as they can afford. A few even called for an end to the sale of “assault weapons” and the “gun-show loophole” that allows felons and loony tunes to buy the means to carry out their twisted ends without even a background check.

After all, some of these pink and white hogs feeding at the public trough have piglets and grand-piglets of their own. I mean, they can relate.

But after all the funerals were covered live and all those little caskets were put in the ground, once the flowers and stuffed animal at the “makeshift memorials,” as they’re always called, began to wilt and fade, once those parents who were still able to talk had their say, just what else was there? Other than some very dry and complicated policy debates about whether tightening our gun laws would do any good, why sports hunters need high-capacity clips to make mincemeat out of wild animals and how come sick people don’t have more access to mental-health professionals – not much. Stuff that’s pretty irrelevant to most of us good citizens who don’t have a great passion for weapons of mass destruction and don’t have serious mental problems, at least not yet.

So the grieving went on grieving and the rest of us thankfully turned our attention back to the needs of our own pampered lives. Like what movie to watch on any given weekend and wondering whether the Broncos can get home-field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs.

Seriously, though, it is too bad about those kids.

Maybe something ought to be done about it.

David Grant Long writes from Cortez, Colo.

From David Long, January 2013.