cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve written about this
topic…for all intents and purposes, it appears this won’t
be the last time either. My weekly radio show includes a recurring
segment called Gun Check. I always hope that each edition of
Gun Check will be my last; but white males in Congress, the
NRA and the Ku Klux Klan ensure fresh episodes of Gun Check
and its long shelf life.
tag line is: Gun Check…let’s see what guns are up to
part of my regular script, I follow up by saying, “You know
what guns are up to: death, destruction and nothin’ good!”
It’s my way of checking up on the harm this element of American
folklore repeatedly causes. And as if on cue, in Parkland, Florida,
17 people were killed on Valentine’s Day in one of the
deadliest school shootings in US history. Also, on cue, immediately
following the massacre were the obfuscators, detractors and virulent
racists, who came out of the woodwork with the predictable
soundbites, defenses, talking points and excuses - leading off with
‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims and their
the whole, no one talking point is any worse than the other, but the
one that’s galls me most is, “This isn’t the time
to talk about gun law reform.” And as if on cue, the “thoughts
and prayers are with the families” line is invoked, flags are
flown at half-staff, attempts to bring meaningful legislation to
debate are diverted to talking points about mental health, and then
the topic of the mass shooting eventually diminishes after a couple
weeks to simply a conversation followed by collective amnesia—or
at best silence.
massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School was the 18th school shooting
this year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. You already
know that the high profile event is undercut by scared and
pretentious white males who take great lengths to protect their own
interests at the cost of innocent Americans…in this case
there’s no secret that I possess a strong distrust of white
males—especially those living in the US. Don’t get me
wrong, their footprint is just as terrible as that of Germans,
Australians, Spaniards and the British, but Americans are the ones
whom I have the most intricate knowledge and relationship with.
American white males are the reason tragic occurrences of magnitude
continue to happen. This year, school shootings have occurred at an
average every 60 hours. So long as white men can continue to buy,
hold and sell more weapons of mass destruction, they can care less
how many American lives - even children’s lives - are gunned
And as horrific as this
latest tragedy is, it’s punctuated by race and racism rearing
its ugly head yet again. As I witnessed the events of the Parkland
County Valentine’s Day massacre unfold, I saw the legacy of
racial disparity play out before live cameras as the police arrested
and detained the shooter. Police identified the gunman as a
19-year-old former pupil—a white male named Nikolas Cruz. He
was carrying an AR-15 with multiple magazines of ammunition. The
cameras captured images of two officers gingerly lifting him onto a
stretcher. He wasn’t dragged, tased, tethered or beaten. He
was not bleeding, nor was he hollering, “I can’t
breathe.” His arrest wasn’t a “hands up, don’t
shoot” proposition. Funny how that happens?
must be great to be white.
addition to the 17 dead, 15 people were injured by this particular
demon. The Broward County sheriff was interviewed saying, “The
gunman was taken without incident.” Without incident?
Really? I’ve seen video of Black men fleeing, freezing in
place or even surrendering and almost instantaneously beaten, tased
or even worse, shot dead…even though they were unarmed,
submissive or compliant.
it must be nice being white in America?
visited Lakeland, particularly victims recovering in the hospitals,
after the mass school shooting. He didn’t visit Las Vegas,
where double the number of victims’ lives was taken. Could it
be because Lakeland’s mass murders involved children? I don’t
know. He didn’t say…but since he cares so deeply about
children, then ask yourself why he wouldn’t listen to them when
they’re shouting out for responsible and swift—and
substantial—gun-control legislation? And can you tell me if he
visited any of the other 17 schools that were shot up this year…and
it’s only February?
been calling for sensible gun law reform for years. Trump and his
conservative supporters have heard the call and defiantly ignored,
fought and resisted any attempts to save children’s lives. And
then, to throw salt into our wounds, some conservative pundits,
pollsters and politicians even throw in the idiotic theory that the
Sandy Hook massacre didn’t even happen?
I want to raise your radar (and maybe your temperature) by informing
you that the students who are demanding change to the gun laws are
going to get something substantial out of this ordeal. Not because
they’re moral, not because they’re right, but simply
because they’re white. Just know that things change when white
folks’ feelings get hurt. Just look at the Me Too
movement (and, yes, it has “moved” the line of scrimmage,
so it is a movement). When the Bill Cosby sexual assault
accusers spoke out, the country did notice, but it did not lead to
legislative change, or even a hashtag. In contrast, the Parkland
students and their social media networks of young people are
demanding a change in the gun laws, whether bump stocks or background
checks, or some other gun law reform, the young people will come
out of this sorrow with something, and maybe even a Time
I know is that it must be nice to be white.
student protestors strategically co-opted the Republican talking
point and buried it (and yes, I approve): “This is
the time to talk about gun laws.” They snatched the tired and
bogus line out of the mouth of greedy gun capitalists and planted the
threat of the ballot box in its place. Then, they posited a strategy
that I’ve been postulating for years: They snatched mental
illness from the jaws of lawmakers, aka NRA proxies, and connected it
with gun-control legislation— making the two inseparable! Yes!
That’s how you de-fang a devil! Then, they pulled in other
institutions that’re affected by this idiocy, like doctors.
is mounting in the medical community as the Trump administration
again points to mental illness in response to yet another mass
shooting. "The concept that mental illness is a precursor to
violent behavior is nonsense," said Dr. Louis Kraus, forensic
psychiatry chief at Chicago's Rush University Medical College. He
added, "The vast majority of gun violence is not attributable to
mental illness." That’s a fact we know, but as we’ve
allowed Republicans to steer a status quo narrative, here we are
again as if on cue—another school shooting.
hours after the shooting, the white male shooter’s mental
health became the focus of President Donald Trump's comments. And on
a Thursday call with reporters, Health and Human Services Secretary
Alex Azar said the Administration is committed to addressing serious
mental illness and that his agency "will be laser-focused on
this issue in the days, weeks, and months to come." So? Who
gives a damn? That sentiment never stopped anyone from shooting
anyone else. Just remember: Wanting to kill someone else is
mentally ill! Period.
what I’ve learned, mental health professionals welcome more
resources and attention, but I continue to scream and they agree that
this Administration is ignoring the real problem, which is, easy
access to guns, particularly the kind of high-powered, lethal assault
weapons used in many of these mass shootings. This simple truth is
simply apparent, and now, this message from the medical
profession is knocking conservatives off cue.
for those who manage to survive gun violence involving these weapons,
the severity and lasting impact of their wounds, disabilities and
treatment leads to devastating consequences," American Medical
Association President David Barbe wrote in an online column after the
shooting. "We are not talking about Second Amendment rights or
restricting your ability to own a firearm. We are talking about a
public health crisis that our Congress has failed to address. This
must end," Barbe wrote.
again, change must involve white people, and they’ve must be
young. A few will fall through the cracks, but on the whole, most
young white people have a conscience and haven’t drunk of the
poisonous cup. Most won’t become a Dyllan Roof, but for far
too many of them, only a tragedy will make them move toward uprooting
the status quo. It’s time to change the script because this
country’s children matter. If we allow Republican
Conservatives to guide the narrative, we’ll have another mass
massacre…right on cue. Mid-term Congressional elections will
occur this fall 2018, change the narrative. The narrative’s
tired and it’s ready.