You almost know what’s coming, even before they speak. It’s most likely the slight air of incomprehension that precedes those first few words of the announcement, as though the anchor is totally bewildered that such a thing could happen in America.
It matters not the channel. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, they always begin the same way; all with similar, slightly vague, expressions; somehow, not quite understanding what’s occurred.
At this point they differ. Some will lower their voice and produce a graver tone, others just take the bull by the horns and launch in, as much as to say, “Oh, well, it’s happened. Better just get on with it……”
And they do:
“A gunman opened fire on a ……”
All over America heads are raised, ears prick, and the involuntary murmur, “Where now?” resonates quietly around the continent.
And still they vote to keep their lethal toys.
“Guns Save Lives” state the proud hoardings set majestically alongside interstates throughout the length and breadth of the land; farmers and land owners all do their bit for that ‘Grand Order of the Deadly Weapon’ known colloquially as the NRA.
“Guns Save Lives” is a proud motto. One to die for; another of those symbols of the freedom that made America great.
Except, of course, it’s a lie.
Take a moment to seek out the headlines for February 23rd 2009:
Boy, 11, accused of shooting his father’s pregnant girlfriend.”
Or, February 25th 2009:
Seven people shot in Mardi Gras gun rampage.”
Or, March 11th 2009:
At least 10 killed in Alabama shooting spree.”
Or, March 29th 2009:
Gunmen Kills Six At North Carolina Nursing Home.”
Or, April 3rd 2009:
14 dead and four critically injured in Binghamton, New York shooting.”
Or, April 5th 2009:
Jobless gunman in Pittsburgh kills US police officers.”
In the space of just six weeks, there were forty-three innocent people for whom the motto, “Guns Save Lives”, just wasn’t true. God alone knows how many more were wounded, maimed for life either physically or mentally, or both, just so grown men can keep the right to play with their lethal toys.
The news anchors seem almost embarrassed when they announce the killings. After all, this is America, and in this country we unite against the common enemy, not each other. Except, for much of the time, we kill far more of our own than any common enemy.
In desperation, they search around for a positive aspect. At first, there seems not to be one, but as the hours go by the networks ferret out any individual who survived, and spin a tale of heroism around them.
Ah! This is the real story. The killings will go away. People will forget. Meantime, we can feel good again by refashioning Mrs Jones, or Mister Poppenheimer, into a true American hero of the hour.
Suddenly, all seems well again. The American Dream is still alive and kicking. America’s heroes are the envy of the world.
Except, all is not well. The American Dream has been dead for so long the stench of its rotting corpse can be smelled from Alaska to New Mexico.
And truly, no-one gives a shit about America’s trumped up heroes. They’re all too busy wondering where the next hail of bullets will come from.
 Gun crime USA The Guardian, Various dates
Filed under: Guns save lives