Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Yesterday, a large radius of downtown Evanston found itself tense and locked down because of reports of an active shooter. I was at work, a few blocks from the incident area, thinking about friends of mine who teach classes or handle administrative duties at Northwestern University. My coworker was thinking about his wife. All of us were thinking about whether this monstrous roulette wheel had finally dropped its ball on our square.
“Still, Bienasz said the fact that someone with a gun can send everyone on campus into hiding is ‘the most absurd thing about living in America…It was the school shooter script, and whether or not it was real, we all knew that script exactly. We all participated in it. We all felt it.'”
Let us name exactly why the protocols have been designed in this way.
When a report comes in that somebody has “a gun,” this could mean anything from a six-shot revolver to a high-capacity, modified military rifle. The former is capable of killing up to six people, one at a time, before the shooter must reload, and he is also slowed down by other physical and mechanical limitations. The latter is capable of firing hundreds of deadly rounds in a few seconds, is designed to reload easily, and is sold with accessories that convert semiautomatic design into a functionally automatic weapon.
Because we allow the latter to be owned by private citizens, often with little to no review of their mental state, past behaviors, or respect for the item they are purchasing, we have designed institutional responses around this weapon. We have designed our psychological responses around this weapon. We know that the latter is excessively deadly, since it was crafted specifically for trained military personnel to carry into enemy territory, We activate law enforcement against its excessive deadliness by deploying S.W.A.T. teams. We activate our own adrenal glands by believing that we are about to be murdered.
I’m not interested in having compromise discussions about firearms if the NRA can’t admit that, at the very least, the killing capacity of the personal arsenal needs to be put in check. Failure to acknowledge that much is failure to argue in good faith.
And you can’t tell me we’d be following exactly the same script, every time, if the most dangerous weapon one was allowed to own was several magnitudes beneath what we’re always afraid it might be.