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We got guns
They got guns
All God's children got guns....

Roanoke Shooting

Too Dreadful for Words—Tom Degan

The Marx Brothers
from the 1932 film, "Duck Soup"

When was the last time someone was murdered in this country on live television? You have to go all the way back to November 24, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters. To the best of my knowledge, it hasn't happened since. Given this nation's perverted obsession with violence, that's surprising. It'll happen again, though, and before long. Of that I have no doubt. Petty sad, huh? Pretty sad indeed.

As traumatic as Oswald's killing was for the country over half a century ago, he was not a very sympathetic figure, to be sure. What happened this week in Roanoke, Virginia, was different.

The naiveté of some of the more empty-headed talking heads was something to behold; in fact, it stunned the senses. Their rhetorical question went as follows:

Would this latest national trauma, viewed by tens-of-millions of Americans, finally compel the politicians in Washington to do what should have been done decades ago by bringing into being sensible gun-control legislation?

I answered that question in the speed of light:

Nearly three years ago, twenty innocent little girls and boys were slaughtered inside their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Also murdered on that day were six women whose job it was to educate and protect them. If that blood-curdling tragedy was not enough to influence Congress to do what is morally right, do these silly people seriously believe that the bodies of two dead television journalists will be enough to get them to see the light? Are they kidding me?

Usually tragedies of this magnitude fail to shock me. When the first reports of the Sandy Hook massacre came through the airwaves on the morning of December 14, 2012, so help me I barely batted an eye:

"Oh, it's happened again, huh?" I said out loud, "And so close to Christmastime. Ho, ho, fucking ho."

As I said at the time, I long ago adjusted to living in a nation where this type of unspeakable atrocity is as common as a morning moon in the western sky. You should adjust to it, too. It makes coping a helluva lot easier, believe me. Vodka helps, too - LOTS OF IT.

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I have to tell you, though, that while this latest trauma in the American train wreck didn't surprise me all that much, the images of the murders of reporter Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward were a horrifying thing to be an eyewitness to—and make no mistake about it, we are all eyewitnesses. Most of the news outlets—to their eternal credit—refused to broadcast the carnage. It did, however, make its way onto YouTube and Twitter. I saw the images. Watching the horror on Alison's beautiful face, hearing her screams of "Oh my God!", was too disturbing and depressing to try to put into words; I'm not even going to try. I'm sorry, I'm just not that articulate.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were focusing on their jobs. They were ambushed. They were doomed. They never had a chance.

I won't mention the name of the demented asshole who murdered Alison and Adam. The cold-blooded bastard was obviously seeking attention on a national scale. Well, he's not going to get it here. Like the psychopathic little nerd who killed 26 innocent human beings in Newtown in December of 2012, he shot himself before he could be bought to justice. That's probably just as well. We want to hear his names—he had two of them—no more. Let us, instead, remember and honor the names of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. We owe them that much at least.

The person who committed this latest atrocity was able to purchase the weapon he used to kill these two innocents with relative ease. If nothing else, that nasty little fact should give the rest of us something to ponder.

Earlier this week, a very nice woman who works as a physical therapist in the health care facility where my mother lives expressed to me her opinion that, as a licensed, law-abiding gun owner, she would think it unfair were she suddenly denied the right to protect herself. I had to agree with her. But she went through the trouble of going through the process of licensing and registration—not to mention instruction on how to use the firearm now in her possession. She also lives in New York State. The laws here are pretty sensible as far as guns are concerned.

The problem is simply that, whenever someone is murdered with an illegal weapon in this part of he country, the gun-in-question is almost always traced to the South, where it was originally purchased and transported up I-95 (or "The Iron Highway" as it is euphemistically referred to by law enforcement) to be sold on the streets of our big (and not-so-big) cities. In some regions of the United States, obtaining a gun is about as easy as obtaining a garden hose.

This is the reality of life in America. This is the way it's going to be for now on: Mountains of bodies, rivers of blood, too many broken hearts to assess. Have you yet had someone you knew and loved murdered by some homicidal jackass with a gun? If the answer to that question is "no", I'll make a prediction now that you'll no doubt find quite disturbing: You will. In the not-too-distant future the law of averages will guarantee it. Our gun culture is compounding by the year—and it won't be going away anytime soon. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

And. please, don't give me the NRA's argument (and if they haven't used it yet, they will—count on it) that if only Alison and Adam had the sense to arm themselves, they would be alive today.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were focusing on their jobs. They were ambushed. They were doomed. They never had a chance.

Don't hold your breath waiting for change to come. That's not going to happen—not now, not ever. Every Republican in Washington (and way too many Democrats to count) are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. I imagine the only thing that would reverse this intolerable situation would be an epidemic of random shootings of our elected representatives (and a handful of NRA reps thrown in just for shits and giggles). That would change things overnight - you'd better believe it, Bubba! But it would be wrong for me to hope for such a deplorable trend in our national affairs - so I'm not even gonna go there. I'm just trying to make what I feel to be a very valid point. And besides, violence isn't my thing. It isn't your thing either, I'm sure....I hope.

I am going to end this piece by repeating (for the one-hundredth time it seems) a paragraph I wrote on the morning after Newtown. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but it needs to be said yet again....and again and again and again....

The NRA types love to jabber away—like diseased little myna birds—about "freedom". We need to come to grips with some unpleasant realities. A society that lives in dreaded, mortal terror, wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will take place, may indeed be many things - no argument there; "Free" they are not. Let's just stop kidding ourselves here and now, okay?

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And while you're at it, get used to living in a nation in ruins.

Tom Degan
The Rant