Sunday, December 16, 2012 | Categories: Michael's Essays
(Don Emmert / AFP / Getty)
The thing we must remember about the slaughter of the children on Friday is that it will have little or no impact on the crazed world of American firearms. The pattern is always the same.
There will be the traditional prayer vigils and hand-wringing and solemn promises that something must be done to prevent it happening again.
There will be a slight post-massacre blip in calls for tighter gun controls.
Those will be overtaken in a month or so by cries for greater access to guns so people can protect themselves.
In the past five years, there have been 19 mass shootings.
Hundreds of people have died, including 32 souls at Virginia Tech in 2007.
The random killings of innocent people have become as integral a part of American life, as late night television.
In fact the day before the Connecticut murders, a man killed two people in a Portland shopping mall.
Only two. Hardly worth mentioning.
There will be hours of media exploration talking about the reasons behind these frequent killings.
That appalling human being, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has jumped out in front with his explanation.
It's because God has been kicked out of the school system.
"We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem," he said.
Connecticut is the birthplace and home of the US firearms industry.
Colt, Winchester, Remington and Sturm-Ruger have all set up manufacturing plants in what is called "gun valley."
The gun industry supports about 6,000 jobs in the state and has an overall impact on the economy of about $1.3 billion.
And in a grisly irony, Newtown is the site of the country's second most powerful gun lobby, the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The predominating culture in the United States is not food or music or literature. It is guns.
There are estimated to be 300 million guns in the country. Everyone has a gun or has access to a gun or knows somebody who owns a gun.
When I lived in Washington, the young teacher in the apartment next to mine slept with a gun on her night table.
The worship of guns and gun culture is glorified in every element of American popular entertainment.
Drive though any state on a weekend and see the number of gun shows. In many states, it is easier to buy a gun than a used car.
In his teary plea for hugs and prayers on Friday, Barack Obama said he was reacting as a parent, not as a president.
In fact he should have acted precisely as a president. Instead of crying, he should have cried enough. Finally, for God's sake, enough.
The gun lobby in the US is impervious to public mourning and public heartbreak.
The ghouls who preside over the National Rifle Association couldn't care less about the pile of tiny bodies in the Newtown school.
Or in Columbine. Or in Aurora. Or in Portland. Or anywhere.
They are in the death business and must protect the franchise.
The question now is: Can President Obama summon the courage he lacked as Candidate Obama, and take up the fight?
With so many lives at stake, we can only hope.