Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, in a powerful statement from Portland before last night’s contest against the Trail Blazers, condemned “the people who are running this country” for failing “to actually do anything” to prevent the increasingly commonplace mass slaughter of civilians.
Full Steve Kerr quote from Portland, again speaking up for gun reform in wake of latest tragedy pic.twitter.com/lB2tews0kq— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 15, 2018
“It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death, day after day in schools,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater.”
Instead, Americans were treated to the same old tired refrain of “thoughts and prayers” from the highest echelons of leadership without a single mention of actions that can be taken to abate these tragedies, which pose a major threat to public safety and national security.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
No one should feel afraid to go about their daily affairs but, rightfully, they do, thanks to ineffectual leadership in the legislative and executive branches of government — the members of which have failed to develop the backbone required to make it illegal for average citizens to obtain military-grade weaponry.
Passing stricter gun laws isn’t too much to ask of politicians whose salaries are paid for by we, the people: the ones they have been entrusted to protect.
A late-2017 listeria outbreak prompted the government to issue an emergency recall of frozen vegetables deemed to be the culprit. Additionally, guidelines were published for restaurants, consumers and the medical community.
Listeria and other illnesses can be deadly, yes, but they also present symptoms that prompt people to seek life-preserving medical care. By contrast, rounds of bullets to the body from a semi-automatic weapon leave very little time for injured victims to receive life-saving medical attention.
Symptoms of listeria poisoning include nausea, diarrhea, stiff neck, and general flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms of gun violence by semi-automatic weapon include brain matter leaking out of broken skulls, entrails falling from torsos, limbs broken or blasted from bodies.
If a listeria outbreak from frozen vegetables is deemed a public health emergency, there is no way to justify gun violence as not being one much more severe. As Kerr pointed out, the NRA (National Rifle Association) bankrolls political campaigns which, therefore, “inspires” elected officials to vote in a manner that keeps the gun-manufacturing industry alive.
Threats to citizens, be damned.
But what about the Second Amendment?
The glorious, yet troublesome amendment to the United States Constitution states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Are firearms necessary “to the security of a free State” in 2018?
Although militias were necessary “to ensure the security of a free State” during the time in which the nation’s founding fathers drew up the document, that certainly is not the case today.
The second part of the text has caused the most confusion, however, because it states explicitly that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was written in 1791 — a time in which “Arms” referred to single-shot rifles used in defense of “State.” However, many legal scholars and average citizens have taken this a step further in interpretation, purporting that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” also applies to defense of family, home, and other property.
Many reasonable people would not have a problem with this, so long as the definition of “Arms” amounts to something sane — such as a single-shot rifle used to protect and defend rather than a militarized weapon meant to assault and kill.
The nation’s founding fathers wrote that citizens have the right to bear arms; they did not specify which types of weapons would be reasonable for average citizens to have. Moreover, in the 1700’s, they likely had no inclination of the types of weapons that would come into existence due to technological advancements hundreds of years later.
The founding fathers also did not assert that people have the right to bear arms no matter what — against basic common sense and moral decency. The country’s founding fathers modeled a willingness to change, to modify the document meant to govern a living, breathing, evolving nation. Yet, they also demonstrated restraint by avoiding numerous or reactionary changes.
Still, as the nation evolved, they had the insight to realize that the document needed to evolve right along with it in reflection of new circumstances.
Sadly, they did not have future-seeing abilities that would have allowed them to know the types of weapons that would be developed, the gun lobby that would stuff the pockets of elected officials, or the cowardly way in which politicians would hide behind a single sentence written more than two-hundred years ago to ensure personal gain at the expense of people’s lives and limbs.
But the shooters are all mentally ill, right?
This is certainly what Donald Trump and other politicians, whose campaign coffers are stuffed with NRA cash, would have everyone believe.
If they can label these shooters as mentally ill, they can shirk their duty to ban weapons that cause mass casualties with commonplace frequency and keep the greedy paws of the NRA in their pockets. Defaulting to mental illness as the sole cause of these shootings is disparaging to non-violent citizens who live with mental illness, a diversionary tactic, and just plain lazy.
All shooters do not suffer from mental illness. Some are just mean or evil or angry, while others, perhaps, are struggling under what Michael Ian Black refers to as an “outdated model of masculinity.” (Even the quickest of glances at his Twitter mentions proves he just might be onto something.)
But here is why it is irresponsible to broadly cast the blame on mental illness:
1. One in six Americans lives with a mental illness, which is just shy of 50 million people. Of those millions, the percentage who are a danger to others is the exception rather than the norm. Yes, treatment of mental illness will improve many issues that press on society, with alcohol and drug addition, homelessness and violence among them. But the fact remains: If those living with mental illness who are prone to violence are denied access to weapons designed specifically to kill as many people as possible, in the least amount of time possible, the number of gun-related tragedies would decline.
2. In his second tweet about the massacre (see above), Trump characterized the shooter as “mentally disturbed” and urges citizens to report those who may pose a threat to public safety “again and again” — essentially assigning blame to others for not preventing the tragedy without accepting any of it himself. First, people did report the gunman “again and again” — including to the FBI — and the lives 17 people were still cut short, while the lives of others were forever altered. Thus, reporting is only a minor part of the solution. Blocking access to assault rifles is the major part.
Additionally, Trump’s main campaign promise (next to building a wall along the US-Mexico border) was to end Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provided healthcare to millions of citizens who were unable to obtain health insurance coverage through their employers. Immediately after his inauguration, Trump began signing executive orders dismantling the program — stripping health coverage from the poor while protecting corporate profits.
Mental illnesses require treatment and, unlike in more evolved societies, healthcare costs for said treatment are so exorbitant that many hardworking people cannot afford them. Thus, how is it anything other than hypocritical — evil? maniacal? insane? corrupt? depraved? — to name mental illness as the cause of mass shootings while simultaneously denying millions of people access to healthcare to treat their conditions?
The argument is the worst kind of no-accountability-having deception. It’s a smokescreen, utter hogwash, an outright fraud.
Mentally ill or not, if people prone to violence cannot obtain assault rifles they would not be able to gun down multiple people in one go. If Trump and others prefer to cling to this deceptive form of deflection, then let’s roll with it — but demand universal healthcare for all citizens.
If it can’t be both, it must be one or the other ... because anything else would be inhumane and contrary to the Judeo-Christian values most politicians claim to hold dear.
Well, it’s a sensitive subject for Kerr, so ...
As has been widely reported, Kerr’s father, Malcolm, was assassinated in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. Naturally, the tragedy altered his worldview, guiding him towards deeper, more nuanced understanding of causes for conflict and violence as well as causes for resolution and peace.
But to dismiss his reasonable request that our government’s leaders “help our citizens stay safe and focus on the real safety issues” affecting the country, on the grounds that gun violence is a sensitive subject for him, would be a mistake.
Yes, the topic is likely very personal to him. But the way his life has been impacted by gun violence does not make his sentiments baseless. Instead, they focus a glaring spotlight on those who dismiss his call to action on these grounds, and beg the simple, yet pertinent question: Why do some people require the sight of a loved one bleeding to death for the urgency to resonate, and for them to develop empathy and then move into action?
As it stands, Steve Kerr has exhibited more leadership on the issue of gun violence than the so-called president. While Trump is sending tweets of “thoughts and condolences” and promising to “ease the pain” of those whose lives were just ripped apart, Kerr has condemned the inaction of Congress, called out the national apathy and indifference, and identified specific possible solutions to an utterly preventable ongoing national tragedy.
Steve Kerr: 5
Donald Trump: 0