On the Fourth, some of us celebrate America’s founding. Happy Independence Day to friends who are still American patriots! Nationally, as usual, Joey Chestnut won a record 15th Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest in Coney Island, even though he was interrupted by an animal rights activist in a Darth Vader outfit.
Sadly, of course, there are and will yet be dozens of gun deaths, including the guy who shot parade goers in Chicago yesterday, killing six and wounding 24 or more. After such horrific attacks, GOP politicians will all announce their fake sorrow, hopes and prayers. Also, today we finally learned more in the recent case of the young Black man, Jayland Walker of Ohio, running from his car unarmed when police killed him by hitting him with 60 bullets. My assumption is they’ll soon all be exonerated.
On June 11, I again marched in Salt Lake City against guns, hate, and mass murders. With friends, college students and faculty in northern Utah, I bore witness against the depraved GOP senators whom many of my friends, relatives and neighbors have supported and will continue to re-elect. Marching in 100-degree heat, we moved from a high school up the streets to gather in the Utah Capitol Rotunda to speak out and remember the innocent of our state and nation who’ve been shot in recent months.
“Protect kids, not guns!” we chanted at the March for Our Lives SLC protest which was among rallies drawing hundreds of thousands across the U.S. Little did most of us expect that the Supreme Court would open the floodgates a couple of weeks afterward to encourage the rise of neighborhood weaponry and faster, more deadly mass killings. The rogue majority gang of SCOTUS appointees continue to shock one’s conscience.
At our protest, we remembered lots of mass killings in America. Among the most recent was on May 24 when 19 sweet little school kids and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas were slaughtered by AR 15s so their bodies were blown to smithereens. Greg Abbott, the worst governor in that state’s history, had encouraged more gun ownership by convincing the heathen legislature to allow guns for all–with no training, no permits, no rules or restrictions, so that the crazies are allowed to kill as many victims as possible. Since that terrible event in Texas, I’ve watched my Facebook pages silently to see if any associates said they cared. Zero.
Two weeks before, I had waited to see if anyone I knew in Utah would express sorrow at the 10 Black shoppers in Buffalo mowed down with a Bushmaster rifle by a racist killer on May 14 who scoped out his victims to ensure as many as possible could be murdered successfully while live-streaming his rampage. He, like many Trump supporters, was a far-right supremacist believing in the ugly rhetoric by FOX and GOP congressional manipulators advocating the Hitlerian "Great Replacement" theory. You can guess how many associates of mine posted their sorrow while I waited to read heart-felt comments about Buffalo. Zero.
Our Salt Lake City protest a couple of weeks ago was one of 4,000 across our once-sacred nation as we criticized the lies about guns which became repurposed as a valid Second Amendment issue. It’s never been a legitimate U.S. value. Only an NRA value. A violence value. Yes. A hate value. Of course. Most rational scholars have not accepted the lie that the Constitution gives us open gun rights. Yes, we should send guns to help Ukrainians fight off Donald Trump’s mentor, Vladimir Putin. But I affirm the fact that Uvalde was clearly a murderous rampage. No one can claim it as the actions of a “well-regulated militia.”
At the Utah Capitol, we shed tears and anger over the recent Walmart El Paso mass murders of 23 Latinos by a gun-worshipping hater of brown-skinned Americans whom he thought didn’t deserve to live. He used an AK-47 type of killing tool to maximize his domestic terrorism agenda. Another 23 of his victims were also shot, yet somehow survived. But their family lives are ruined forever. Of that, I recall several posts on Facebook from acquaintances expressing their “Sympathies,” the same term Utah Sen. Mike Lee has written over decades of his ignorant, vacuous acceptance of his inability to feel human empathy.
In my brief speech at the Salt Lake City rally, I mentioned that we are a gun-worshipping nation, having expanded gun numbers from a “reasonable” number of hunting guns in past decades to the current atrocity of 390 million household weapons last year. America suffers from some 45,000 American gun deaths annually, roughly half from homicide, the other 50 percent from suicide. I asked a gun-totin’ relative recently, which is worst? No answer.
These numbers are up 43 percent from a decade earlier. As I’ve said in my other anti-gun speeches for years, I don’t know a single person who I trust to have a gun, whether neighbors, relatives, hunters or other types of gangsters. In fact, the other day, two doors down, we watched from our living room as five cop cars, an ambulance and fire truck all roared into our cul-de-sac to deal with a dangerous resident whose wife and five sweet kids were in danger. Thankfully, they took him to jail and there were no deaths. But the scary thing is the guy owned his assault weapons “legally.”
In our assembly at Utah’s Capitol Rotunda, numerous speakers wore T-shirts emblazoned with “March for Our Lives.” Some spoke of other tragedies. One was the little-remembered Gilroy, California, summer food festival three years ago when a guy used his AK-47 type rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition to spray bullets that hit 20 victims out for a party. Banned in California, the weapon was legally purchased in Nevada and the mass killer attended a good Christian school where he apparently never learned about Jesus, just like most Americans who arm themselves to the teeth. There was also the Dayton, Ohio attack where a gun-worshipping 24-year-old mowed down 27 victims, nine fatally, the others hospitalized. Why? Because he could. Lax laws, idiotic public policy, dangerous individuals. Thankfully, at the time, the White House Guy, Trump, ordered U.S. flags to be at half-mast. I felt so much better.
This recent march against murder comes four years after teens who survived the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida established the “March for Our Lives.” movement. I’ve been a card-carrying member ever since. To these high schoolers I say, “Bless them for being smarter than half the politicians in Congress and the Senate, brighter than many governors and state legislators. Many of these kids are more righteous than their ministers or parents because they actually believe we should “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Of course, there are more ugly news stories of America’s death culture. Many won’t forget the 23 shot (10 murdered) in Santa Fe, Texas, again a result of lax “laws” by right-wing officials enabling a teen to effectively slaughter classmates while loudly singing "Another One Bites the Dust.” I still remember the 2017 guy who perpetrated a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (again) where he showed his Texan skills by murdering 27 innocent victims. Also, my colleagues at Virginia Tech occasionally remind me of the mass murders on their campus when a student successfully got two semi-automatic guns so he could massacre 32 students and wound 17 more.
In our Salt Lake City gun protest, we also remembered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut where a decade ago a “law-abiding” young adult blew the brains out the heads of 20-plus school kids and some staffers. I still remember 10 or so years back when a weakling, Jimmy Holmes, dressed in military clothes and entered a theater in Aurora, Colorado where he lobbed tear gas grenades and began slaughtering moviegoers, causing death to a dozen and wounding some 50-60 in attendance. Looking up his sentence, I see that Holmes got 3,318 years behind bars. Not quite enough!
In the same state of Colorado there were the Columbine killings a decade or so before Aurora where two punks, seniors who worshipped guns instead of education, gunned down another dozen students. And yet today, poor Colorado still suffers from its heinous army of crazed gun owners. Currently, they are led by Trump’s MAGA queen, Rep. Lorena Boebert, a GOP high school dropout. If you watch the news, you’ll remember her as the dangerous one who mailed out last year’s family Christmas card depicting her kids each brandishing massive guns as a symbol of their religious values. Jesus? Never! Murder? Yes! Murder. Murder. Murder. A few days ago on June 28, 2022, this same QAnon crazy won her GOP primary hoping to retain her power in Congress so she can continue to threaten her colleagues while aiding dangerous Republicans who hate the Constitution, twisting its meaning to let everyone carry weapons.
A couple other cases we recalled in our March Against Guns earlier this month…. One occurred in 2015. It was a white supremacy terrorist mass shooting that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed during a worship service. Obviously, it’s becoming too dangerous to even attend church because of gun-totin’ crazies!
To me, perhaps the worst mass killings by a gun-nut was the 2017 assault in Nevada when an older guy opened fire down on the Las Vegas Strip from his upper room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The so-called Second Amendment distorter fired over one thousand bullets, killing 60 people while shooting and wounding some 400-plus more. Altogether, as tourists panicked and ran, some 867 were injured in the resulting stampede. When police got to his room after his suicide, they found more than a dozen AR 15s, plus lots more smaller weapons. I don’t think Nevada has since changed the laws any more than most Republican-led states.
When I asked a few friends in recent days about these gun crime cases, most barely remembered a single story. Such ignorance helps explain our current violence.
Increasingly, we have to keep warning young kids to be aware, be worried, be careful when at school, the grocery store or mall, or downtown festivities. People face the daily question: “Will I be next?” Idiots like dangerous Ted Cruz offers his “brilliance” by saying we should arm teachers to the teeth. Heck, that doesn’t even work with security guards and police!
Frankly, I have given up on many folks who I personally know actually having a conscience. How many more Americans must be massacred by assault rifles until my friends speak out? Or take an hour from their binge-watching to march for public safety? Or until they push their political “leaders” to gets such weapons of war off our streets?
My friends in dozens of countries I’ve worked with or spoken at their international conferences are always shocked at the blood-letting here. Their nations have long taken action to ban assault rifles and have seen drastic reductions in gun violence. We could do the same, except we seem to worship household weapons.
In recent days, America finally got a bipartisan bill about gun measures through both houses of Congress. Then, the Supreme Court upped the ante by loosening gun restrictions! I don’t think much will really change. The SCOTUS ruling is pro-gun dangerous, and Congress’s new policy is too weak to have any real teeth.
Families in America are tired of mourning. Fed up with empty platitudes. SICK and OUTRAGED about “thoughts and prayers.” Enough is enough! So, take a minute, dear readers. Join a good cause. Become a real pro-lifer! Let’s never forget the innocent Uvalde school kids and teachers whose lives were sacrificed to the NRA and distorted American values.