Free the People’s first-ever trigger warning: Do not be as the River City gentry and fall for this column’s opening pitch. Ahead of it lies plenty of compassion and empathy for the young lives taken too soon. Read on for a message more respectful of the youthful extinguished souls than the boilerplate condolences and crocodile tears rampant in our media-driven political scene.
Emotions are running high. Tempers are flaring. Cain is being raised. Kittens are being had. Gaskets are blowing.
So now, naturally, is the perfect time to peddle my patented (U.S. Patent No. 1,274,027) advice tract: “The How-To Guide to do Something, Anything, EVERYTHING!! About a Tragedy.”
Forget that empire apologist Kipling’s counsel to keep your head about you when everyone’s losing theirs. What did he know about craniology anyway?
The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, presents the prime opportunity to flog my directional handbook. What? You think my sales-commodification of 21 murdered innocents—including 19 little children—is flip and heartless?
Fair enough, sensitive reader, but I’m only taking after our esteemed public officials, who, when the cordite is still pungent after a killing spree, demand immediate passage of hastily written laws. We’re both opportunistic paper pushers, separated only by title.
Which brings us to my first piece of wisdom: in the wake of a heinous crime, scream as loudly and publicly as possible for a new law. The faster and less informed your cadence the better. When misfortune strikes, reactive sentiment can be capitalized on. People must be spurred into action. When better, if not in the immediate aftermath of gruesome violence? The more disfigured the victims, the more notches to twist your emotional dial.
Second bit of sage advice: universalize all problems, and all solutions. If we lose a life now, who’s to say we won’t lose them all without prompt mitigation? Our woes should be treated as if they’re everywhere all at once, bounding us in a tightening grip. Repeat after me: my dilemma is everyone’s dilemma!
On to the third step: demonize, otherize, and marginalize the opposition. Foot-draggers who plea for forbearance are the enemy. Treat them as you would any cold-blooded killer. They’re practically accessories to murder anyway—especially if they appeal to death-enablers like “due process” or other hoary constitutionalisms. We can’t let infrastructure parables detain us from swift justice!
Fourthly and lastly: question any and all motivations that don’t easily flush with yours. Sternly interrogate opposing views. Forcibly smooth out any potential friction in compromising. Actually, forget about compromise. Foreclose any possible divergence. Let your priors be your guide and endpoint. Accept no substitutes. Suspect the suspectful.
All right, with my dear editor’s patience stretched impossibly thin by my con-man routine, I’ll get serious.
Here’s the stone-cold truth you won’t get from all the moralizing news heads and dollar-sign-eyed lawmakers barking for redress: nothing can be done to stop mass shootings in America.
I don’t mean that practically, physically, and lawfully nothing whatsoever can be done. Plenty of measures can be taken—measures too insane and infeasible to actually implement, such as the Army Corps of Engineers constructing a Madison Square Garden-sized bonfire to melt down all 400 million-odd confiscated firearms in the country (our Australian friends did something similar, which ended up biting them in the papoose).
The Second Amendment—the one big fat rampart against which all gun-grabbing schemes crash—could be repealed. But that would require effecting blue coups in numerous red states to even come within spitting distance of the potential proximity to have three-fourths of states agree to it. A liberal pipe dream, in other words.
School shootings plummeted in 2020 thanks to the Wu-bug. Permanent remote learning could easily stamp out the possibility of another Columbine sequel occurring. Too bad even the bluest and most hypochondriatic school districts are desperate to get students back in the classroom—the ones they haven’t lost, that is.
Some conservatives have cleaved onto a novel solution: “harden” schools. Hire more armed guards, erect new metal detectors, establish single entryways, lock all the windows, sterilize the air, lace the football field with barbed wire, mandate biometric entry, administer mild sedatives to all on premises, grind the incalcitrant delinquents into the cafeteria meatloaf… OK, maybe not that far. But the entire beef-up-security line sounds discomfitingly like dressing schools up in a prison aesthetic. Steel window bars on a kindergarten? That is so hot right now.
Conservative polemicist David French urges the immediate passage of red-flaw laws. He makes a somewhat compelling case, if you easily buy into abstract thought experiments. The sad but predictable fact is that both the Uvalde child butcher and the Replacementist killer in Buffalo could have easily been tagged as unhinged and prevented from purchasing a firearm. Except nobody—from their neglectful parents, to their head-ducking teachers, to derelict guidance counselors, to the impotent police—bothered to get off their duff and file the proper paperwork. In America, we call that somebody else’s problem. French admits “red flag laws implicate a core constitutional right” and “poorly drafted laws are subject to abuse.” So true, Dave! But why worry about silly things like abeying rights and abusing authority when ineffectual laws can be passed, am I right?
Conservatives think turning Mayberry Primary into Fallujah c. 2004 ensures a safe learning environment. Liberals are furiously spoiling to pass gun control yesterday, but can’t bother to stay in Washington lest they miss a three-day weekend. Moderate pragmatists are pushing legislation that, despite already being on the books in some states, were easily *ahem* shot through. Our elected representatives claim the issue can be solved with new, expedited laws. But heaven forbid they take the time to draft a bill, present it to the American people, ensure it passes constitutional muster, and, um, what’s that last thing in the “School House Rock” jingle? Oh, right, vote on it.
Still, fundraiser-ready fixes are floated, all skirting one of the core issues: the abysmal and enraging failure of Uvalde police to protect and serve. Mind-boggling detail after rage-inducing detail keep trickling out. Responding officers refusing to engage with the shooter, a strict cordon that kept parents out of the school as their children were slaughtered, police urging students in hiding to out their positions, shameless lying about the chronology of events—Uvalde’s thin blue line effectively formed a barrier around Robb Elementary, giving the killer free rein to go Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on horrified and defenseless kids.
But even with demands for a disarmament campaign at a boiling point, some epistemological humility is creeping in. The Biden White House is signaling reluctance to challenge both the Second Amendment and the dodgy response of the Uvalde nebbish department. This tossing up of hands from an executive branch trying to root out “systematic racism” in everything from agronomy to bike lanes—it’s really quite something.
The Biden Administration admittedly has its hands tied up in many intersecting crises, which is also ironic in itself given the left’s fondness for issue convergence. Between wallet-squeezing inflation, Putin’s Lebensraum, a disintegrating southern border, and a new simian-sourced pox, there’s enough on Biden’s plate, next to his pre-masticated liver and onions, that declaring all-out war on guns may overwhelm his already overworked PCAs.
Even so, the lack of direct federal action won’t quiet the screeching from both the Democratic faithful and the media (but I repeat myself). To true-blue liberals, gun violence, like every blight, remains a fixable problem with enough political will. But therein lies the fatal conceit. We’re not, as Descartes wished, “masters and possessors of nature.” We’re King Lear on the darkened heath. Progressive government—not partisanly progressive, but in the Age of Enlightenment sense—was created to ease life’s random adversity. Yet it remains powerless in the face of a cracked man deciding Hell is a greener pasture, and a few unlucky bystanders should accompany him.
The truth is that guns, from your lowliest lemon squeezer to your chainsaw-appended AK, are just extensions of the rage, turmoil, anguish, and occasional evil that torment our souls. And no amount of good-intentioned rules can keep all the destructive forces at bay. The Solzhenitsynian line of morality is ultra vires.
Legislative humility should be a starting point for any call to action. Yes, even for the most heartbreaking of impetuses, including the bullet-ridden bodies of children.
If you’d still like to order a copy of my reactionary emergency handbook, including purchasing a signed edition, please contact the editor of our esteemed publication. We’ll charge your credit card posthaste. Your bank statement should read: “Free the People: your hair-trigger emotions are the very problem with our politics.”
If that kind of blunt pedagogy isn’t worth an incredibly affordable $39.99, I don’t know what is. Buy now before the fates pay us an unkind visit once again!