When the Ritual ended, and all of our friends went home, all of our friends remained in the room.
We had some drinking to do while all of our friends came home from Korea.
We hoped they’d each complete their journey, and that a capricious writer wouldn’t somehow jettison one of them into the sea, say, or en route home bestow the discovery of some ghastly disease upon another.
We were full of hope in those days.
But I don’t recall anything after the Ritual, only the rite itself.
This is the power of re-runs over decades.
I told you–we had some drinking to accomplish while all of our friends, well, vanished. I can’t at this remove even remember if my girlfriend at the time, Lynn, was in attendance. All I can say with any accuracy is that I’m still amazed someone like her was once actually my girlfriend. She taught me how to cook.
Much like how the Chief is now actually my wife. She taught me how to argue: I lose.
The 22-minute Ritual was bittersweet, and then we collectively knew, on one level or another, that all too soon we’d each be facing the future individually.
Which is exactly what happened. I don’t really know what transpired with any of them, friends fictional and full-blooded alike.
People move on and things change–right?
On March 9, on the Valley Voice’s Facebook page, I posted an informational flier regarding the Visalia Police Officer’s Foundation “30 Guns in 30 Days” gun raffle fundraiser.
Here’s the question I posed: In the aftermath of recent school shootings, what are your thoughts on this upcoming gun raffle?
And I asked it in this specific fashion because, if we’re ever going to finally have a tipping point when it comes to our unique gun culture, well, I’d like to know what it is. Much in the way we once banned fully automatic rifles–machine guns–and, temporarily at least, assault rifles.
Nothing, it turns out, has changed–as the lengthy thread of opinion unspooled, only a handful seemed to agree with me that firearms might not be the ideal prize in a raffle hosted by a police officer’s foundation.
Imagine doctors raffling off cigarettes or whiskey. It’s baffling. It’s sickening.
In civilized places police forces have been known to institute what they call “gun buybacks.” Because they recognize it’s in the public interest to reduce the number of firearms available to that public.
Much like a doctor might lance a boil or employ trepanation to reduce dire swelling in a human brain. Maybe it’s not your inclination to do so–but do so you must.
As has widely been reported, there have been 186 school shootings since Sandy Hook, on December 14, 2012. That means, in the five and a third-year’s since, we’ve averaged just higher than 35 school shootings per year. That means nearly three per month, as a steady drumbeat.
It also means damned near weekly.
After the murder of 20 first-graders!
Let’s remember that the gun in question, in the Sandy Hook incident, was, if perhaps technically stolen by the shooter, legally owned by his mother–who used shooting firearms as a means to bond with her insane son.
This used to be semi-particular to postal workers. Remember the old saying, “Going Postal?” Now it’s school shootings. Nobody ever accuses the shooter of “Going Scholastic.”
Because books don’t teach people. People teach people.
But why, then, do they call it book learnin’?
And why do them darn teachers assign so many books to read?
Ask Abe Lincoln. As a youth he famously read everything he could get his outsized mitts on. It’s how he educated himself. Wonder how that wound up?
What’s been made ritual–a necessary evil of our God-given Freedoms–is the notion of mass shooting itself; anywhere, at any time, whether in a movie theatre, from a high-rise hotel room, at an employee party…you name it: The Second Amendment right you so rigorously defend can, at any time, get you killed.
Firearms, of course, connect all these disparities of motive and opportunity. They are the means.
I’m not so full of hope anymore, not when gun lobby money and sanctimonious Second Amendment rights season the stew. No amount of murdered first-graders will ever serve as the tipping point. No amount of murdered students of any age or type. No number of murdered Americans of any stripe.
So long as Americans perceive of the means of mass murder as a right, we must endure these episodic slaughters.
It’s past time this particular ritual ended.