Those are some of the things in the news today.
The big story, obviously, is the shooting at the Empire State Building. The New York Times reported from Mayor Bloomberg's press conference where the mayor said that the shooter was "a man who had been fired from an apparel importer in the shadow of the Empire State Building [who then] shot and killed a former co-worker on Friday morning The man then walked along the curb in front of the Empire State Building, where he 'turned his gun' on two officers on duty at the main entrance 'and tried to shoot them.'” Both the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that some of the people wounded or grazed by bullets "may have been hit by police bullets during the confrontation with the suspect." They believe "that some of the shooting victims had been shot by the officers 'based on the number of people shot and the capacity of' the shooter’s weapon."
Shootings in the Bronx and in Brownsville have become devastatingly commonplace this summer. The last few weeks have made it so that when we read about a teenager being gunned down in his own neighborhood, our immediate thought is Again?
We live in a city whose mayor is one of the vocal advocates of gun control in the country. We live in a city with a controversial—some say unconstitutional—policy in place where the police can, and do, stop-and-frisk anyone that they feel like, ostensibly to look for guns. And still it's not enough. Not even close.
Another story in the Times today featured a profile of a small, upstate town—Ilion, New York—where the Remington Arms Company runs a factory. Town residents are worried about the state's proposed stricter gun laws because the legislation include things like microstamping firearms as a method of ballistics identification. Residents fear that the Remington factory will decide to decamp to a state with more lax gun control laws. The people of Ilion are far more worried about their jobs than they are about gun control. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of guns, they could all work manufacturing yogurt?
And most politicians, including both presidential candidates, are far more worried about losing the votes of gun advocates than they are about the victims of gun violence. Most politicians refuse to touch this issue at all. Mayor Bloomberg is a rare exception to this rule and spoke on the radio this morning, prior to the Empire State Building shooting, about gun control saying, "I don't know what it takes. Somebody asked me what would shock Congress. Well, they had a Congresswoman shot [Rep. Gabrielle Giffords]... And that didn't seem to do anything. The Founding Fathers, I don't think, ever envisioned AK-47s in the hands of people."
But while Bloomberg's intentions are clearly in the right place, the effectiveness of some of his programs must continue to be questioned. I doubt, for example, that white 53-year-old killer Jeffrey Johnson ever would have been targeted for a stop-and-frisk.
I'm not a politician. I can say whatever I want about guns and how I don't think there's anything even remotely resembling a good excuse as to why people say they "need" guns. If your best reason for "needing" a gun is so that you can go shoot animals, I really don't care about your needs. But banning guns—and it's not as if that could ever, EVER be a reality—would solve nothing. And, frankly, shootings like in Aurora or Wisconsin or the ESB are the kind of big events that might not seems so rare anymore but, strictly speaking, are not the main problem guns pose. Because the problem isn't really the guns, the problem is our culture's obsession with violence. It's an obsession that has become almost second-nature, to the point where we have become inured to it. The problem can best be seen in a neighborhood like Brownsville where the murder of a thirteen-year-old is not a front page story. We barely even see it.
Here's one other thing I read in the news today. Former President George W. Bush has released some of the details of his Presidential library and museum. There will be a room which we suppose is intended as a remembrance of the events of September 11. Is it a reconstructed version of the top-secret bunker former President Bush was holed up in? No. It's a room which "opens up onto 22-foot-high beams of twisted steel, now ghostly under plastic wrap, that once held up the 85th floor of the World Trade Center. The steel will be surrounded by walls bearing the names of the victims of 9/11 and a video loop of the Twin Towers getting hit and going down."
Yeah, this is the country we live in. You know that's going to be the most popular part of that shitty ex-President's shitty museum. A bunch of Americans are going to line up to stand in a room where they can watch the deaths of thousands of people, over and over again. It's background. It's just noise. It's just flashing images. We live in a country where death has become wallpaper. Is it really any wonder these shootings keep happening?
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