chromatomancer (chromatomancer) wrote,

Connecticut's Tragedy

I don’t know if I have what it takes to address this, but I’ll try, as today’s events and politics have brought up strong emotions for me. While traveling recently, I spent an hour in the Las Vegas airport. It was like landing in a casino. At first I was entertained by the glitz for sale, and the hundreds of slot machines from Wheel of Fortune to Star Wars. Then I came across a giant (as tall as two people) ad, advertising the Gun Store. The ad consisted of a picture of maybe seven different assault weapons and a tall, shapely, gun-toting blonde woman and the byline "Try One! Shoot a Real Machine Gun!" Rentals were available. The overall impression of the design was of naiveté – the fonts were blocky and playful. The woman looked like the woman next door. It might as well have been a cosplay or role-playing poster, suggesting dressup as action figures. The woman’s expression was cheerful. The focus on the word “real” was key to me -- what is real? What isn’t real? Why is shooting a “real” gun desirable? What are “unreal” guns? What is the spectre of the gun?

My intention is not to single out Las Vegas. It’s just that the Gun Store’s cheerful attempts to turn a buck turned my stomach. I found myself unable to take a picture of the ad, to record it, to share it via social media. Why? Because it would make it more “real” to me. I have struggled for many years to make this type of thing less real in my own mind, less present, less of a problem. Someone who shouldn’t have had access to weapons in my life was able to attain access with ease. This person was too cowardly and lazy to acquire a gun by illegal means. Yes, it would have been a deterrent.

This person then threatened people I know and care about. Self included. We’re talking years of recovery from a crime that was never committed -- a crime that was merely threatened. An atmosphere of terror that was created and maintained for years because an abuser was able to obtain an 11’ chunk of metal. Was there terror and abuse before that? Certainly. But once that piece of metal was on hand, everything shifted subtly. Life and death became the issue. In order to speak up, you had to be willing to risk escalating a situation to the point where you might be shot. Did that shut me up, or shut up the other people in the situation? No, and that’s probably why I survived. But that’s another story, one I don’t have what it takes to tell right now. I’m sorry, I’m just too tired.

What I’m trying to say is, this person was a model citizen on paper. Does that mean that he would have been able to obtain a weapon easily anyway, even if the government had stronger regulations? Perhaps not. In this case, knowing the psychology of the abuser in question (and I do not think this psychology is uncommon), I know that having to A. pass a written test, B. take a class, C. go to a hospital to have a mental and drug test filed with the police, D. pass a rigorous background check (all required in Japan), might have been a deterrent. Why? Because these actions hint at consequences and accountability -- the bugbear of the abuser. They take the glamour out of the impulse. It’s like being forced to record and be truthful about adultery. Suddenly it seems a lot less sexy. In this case, the system permitted a squeaky-clean abuser to abuse. The system is broken. He’d been looking for a way to shut people up for a long time. And he almost found a solution.

Fortunately for me, I’m happy to be able to say that now I can experience a normal emotion about that -- anger. And what has happened in CT today makes me angry. Very angry. How we express our anger defines us as people and societies. And that is what is real.

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