Fury in the Slaughterhouse: Guns in America

“There’s an old lady,
Living in an old house
Since her husband died
She hasn’t been out.
She lives in her own world
With her own little nightmares
And she’s stopped counting the days.

She buys a radio station
With her husband’s legacy.
She does her own show 10 hours a day
Plays poems and listens,
Lets feelings run free
Helps people talk their pain away

So if your world falls down
Can’t see the light of day
Call the lady,
Call the station
Today

And listen

This is Radio Orchid,
Listen and cry
To all the others
That suffer and die
This is Radio Orchid,
Listen and cry
Take your lonely heart and let it fly.
“Radio Orchid”, Fury in the Slaughterhouse

The first time I visited the woman who would eventually become my wife, today affectionately called She Who Must Be Obeyed, She was living in a students’ residence in the beautiful city of Freiburg im Breisgau in the Black Forest of southwestern Germany.

And though I had already been turned on by this amazing German woman I would discover other aspects of Germany and German culture I would come to enjoy.

As English is very much the international language of much of the modern music scene, many German musicians perform their music in English.

In the residence kitchen one group’s music was often played and enjoyed:

Fury in the Slaughterhouse was a rock band from Hannover, Germany, founded in 1987 and disbanded in 2008.

Their hits include: “Time to Wonder”, “Every Generation Got Its Own Disease”, “Won’t Forget These Days”, “Radio Orchid”, “Dancing in the Sunshine of the Dark”, “Milk & Honey”, and “Trapped Today, Trapped Tomorrow”.

The band reunited on June 8, 2013 at the Expo Plaza Festival in Hannover, Germany for only one show.

I particularly enjoyed their hit “Radio Orchid” and have heard this song in my head a lot lately when I think about the never-ending problem of gun control and mass shootings in the US.

I regularly read Time magazine and the October 19, 2015 issue caught my attention with Josh Sanburn’s article “Guns: A familiar tragedy calls for unfamiliar solutions”.

“From 2000 to 2014, there were 166 mass shootings in more than a dozen developed countries around the world.

133 of them were in the US.

The latest installment of what has become a tragic American ritual took place on a sunny morning (1 October) in Roseburg, Oregon, “the Timber Capital of America”.

Within minutes of Christopher Harper-Mercer’s assault at Umpqua Community College, the achingly familiar sequence began – scattered reports across Twitter and cable news tickers, then images of police and shaken survivors.

Finally the toll: nine injured and ten dead, including the 26-year-old gunman who took his own life during a shoot-out with authorities.

Routine, too, were the predictions that this latest massacre would bring no change…

Even though, according to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans favor background checks for all gun purchases, a 2013 bill to mandate them failed in Congress.

That vote came in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting and the question became: If that outrage couldn’t alter the status quo, what could?”

The article goes go to offer five ideas to stop mass shootings:

1. Don’t name shooters.

“Some researchers believe that a desire for notoriety – and a failure to achieve it through other means – helps drive some people to commit mass shootings.

Denying attackers the infamy they crave could remove a motive and potentially limit copycat tragedies, but such efforts run up against long-held journalistic custom and the challenge of keeping secrets in the social media age.”

I think it is a good idea in theory but impossible in practice.

2. Compel mental health treatment.

“Assisted outpatient treatment for adults with severe mental illness who may be dangerous but refuse treatment would allow courts to impose treatment on adults considered a risk to themselves or others.

Critics contend that this violates patients’ civil rights and stigmatizes mental illness by linking it to violence as well as increases the risk that people who need treatment won’t come forward.”

There already exists a large amount of stigma against those suffering from mental illness and an inability to separate in the public’s mind the concepts of conscience and illness.”

A person who is ill might not be aware of the difference between wrong and right.

The problem, in my opinion, is not so much mental illness as it is national mentality.

3. Crack down in schools.

“Schools are a prime target for gunmen.

An average of two shootings occurred in the US every month from 2013 to 2014, according to Every Town for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group.

In 2013, President Obama approved $45 million to add more than 300 armed school resource officers.

The FBI has a behaviour analysis team that works with local authorities who have flagged potentially violent students.

Since 2012, the FBI Columbine Unit has responded to more than 400 cases and prevented 150 attacjs in 2013.

It’s a strategy that depends on teachers and school officials to notice if a student seems “off” and to report it in time.”

This idea feels wrong on so many levels.

Do schools have to become armed camps or academic prisons to ensure safety?

Who defines what is “off” behaviour?

Teaching is already a very demanding profession.

Adding now to their duties the role of psychological watchdog cannot possibly enhance the educational achievement of the classroom.

4. Let cops confiscate guns.

“Some states have begun allowing authorities to flag people they deem too dangerous to own guns.”

The problem is: Who decides who is too dangerous?

5. Make gun manufacturers liable.

“Federal law shields gunmakers from liability for crimes committed with weapons.

Yet families of Sandy Hook victims are suing Bushmaster and other gun companies, arguing that the AR-15 gun used was designed for war and that selling it to the public was “negligent entrustment”.

Making gun companies accountable for shootings would create financial incentives to increase safety precautions and monitor distribution, but winning those lawsuits will be difficult.”

I remember a business teacher once recommending that before one complains about a problem one should be ready to offer a solution.

I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t other ideas that might be evaluated.

St. Lawrence College political science teacher Roland Lemire, in my first ever class with him, suggested that the first rule to understanding politics is to ask the question: “Que bono?”.

(Who benefits?)

Who benefits from guns in America?

Gunmakers.

Idea: Make gunmaking no longer a profitable business.

Hit gunmakers where it hurts: their wallets.

Through a combination of higher taxation upon these firms, stricter legislation regarding gun manufacturing and sales and negative publicity constantly repeated and enforced every time one of their weapons causes the death of someone might discourage companies from making guns.

Professor Lemire also commented that great changes in policy and practice are never possible without great changes in perspective.

Until a nation feels that a common practice is wrong then that practice will not change.

We must never confuse what is legal with what is right.

Slavery was once legal.

Child labour was once legal.

Apartheid was once legal.

Until the societies where these practices flourished began to feel that these were wrong practices did change, and the elimination of these practices, occur.

Until people feel that owning a gun is morally wrong and shameful, then changes to the law won’t occur and gunmakers will still continue to produce America’s weapons of self-destruction.

Liberals need to show and demonstrate the kind of fury and outrage that the right uses to dominate national debate and strategically without halt or fear continue to publicly shame and intimidate those that would support gun manufacture and ownership.

Hunting for sport rather than for food is, in my view, immoral in the taking of pleasure from the murder of creatures.

Of course, I would not disarm the soldier or the law enforcement officer, but they do need to change their reputations as those who tend to shoot first and ask questions or resolve problems later, by drawing their weapons as a last resort rather than a first response.

Until America changes its mentality then Roseburg will just be another routine report.

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