We have voted and we have debated. And here we are with 120.5 civilian guns per 100 people and an endless stream of gun violence and school shootings. Gunshot wounds are now the leading cause of child death in the United States.
Peaceful marches are powerful and energizing. But even after children who survived the Parkland school shooting shamed us with their mass protests, we are still sending thoughts and prayers. In the fight against gun violence, civility has gotten us dick.
But there's another path that's proven effective in the last two years. That's going absolutely off the fucking rails. Consider: Rambling about crackpot theories, screaming into the microphone at school board meetings and pitching violent toddler fits at supermarkets and dental offices have collectively moved the powers that be to yield to anti-maskers. A massive body of scientific research was no match for howling anti-vaxers and now our kids are in public schools without COVID vaccine requirements. Obstructing public meetings by yelling and harassing public officials has kept this country from doing all it can to fight a deadly virus for which we have vaccines and simple preventative measures. Despite a million dead. This shit works.
Is the swearing bothering you? Cool. Write a letter. Stand up and bravely use your voice to complain about me offending your sensibilities with my foul mouth instead calling or writing local, state and federal representatives or the NRA because I guess a woman writing the word "fuck" is more offensive than 19 children shot dead in a single school room, their ruined bodies identified by the DNA from the cheek swabs of their crying parents outside. Fuck you. Maybe my tone is alienating. Maybe you could have been on board with legislation that would have kept a few more children from bleeding out in classrooms and folks on grocery runs from gasping their last bloody breaths into the linoleum because someone with a gun that didn't even need to reload shot them up at the market if I wasn't so abrasive. Well, if the sweet faces of the children who died in Texas — Jesus, at Sandy Hook a decade ago — aren't enough to win you over to protecting living, breathing people from random, brutal violence, I doubt I ever had a chance.
Back to the screaming. Airlines shrugged off the concerns of their staff and flight attendants and pushed for lifting masking rules because a segment of their customers were pissing themselves with rage and high off their imagined oppression to the point of attacking people in goddamn coach. Looking at the videos of Karens and Kens making absolute asses of themselves in public, spitting and shaking and escalating to avoid wearing a 2-millimeter-thick mask — what could be more humiliating? Wait, I know: Continuing to go to work and pay taxes in a country that chooses its obsession with guns over the lives of adults and children alike every single fucking day.
If you're waiting for me to attempt to persuade you with statistics or studies, please hold your breath forever. At this point, if you think legislation — fucking any legislation — that would even slow the flood of guns into the American melee isn't necessary, I can't help you. If you refuse to see what every other nation in the world can and respond to it like the emergency it is, fuck off. If you're not willing to admit to a difference between a hunting rifle and the kind of weapon engineered to mow down soldiers from 600 yards, fuck off. I no longer have the time or energy to engage with willfully obtuse or dishonest people who just want what they want. Feel free to ramble about how this is a mental health crisis and not about people in mental crisis getting guns easier than a driver's license because right now I'm busy thinking about the mental health of little kids and teachers practicing active shooter drills and the thousands of parents who bury children killed by guns each year. Not even the adults. Just the children. Oh, should I not politicize their deaths? Eat shit. Actual shit.
Protesting outside Brett Kavanaugh's home led to swift, bipartisan legislation protecting him and other U.S. Supreme Court justices. But that's organized. That's a unified and coordinated protest. What I'm talking about is the slow drip of crazy, where you see someone in a normal setting and your hackles go up because something about their T-shirt slogan tells you they are about to pop off at the first available opportunity. I'm talking about a relentless campaign of dispersed fury. No justice, no peace goddamn anywhere.
How about the police jump in and start protecting children? I'm not referring to the criticism surrounding the police on site in Texas. Well, actually, sort of. I mean police organizations using their political power and influence to make us safer. Because instead of investing time, energy and considerable funding into defending racist cops, disproportionately powerful police unions could instead fight a proliferation of firearms so deadly that officers find it necessary to wait on tactical teams to confront a single teenager. (Don't give me the Blue Lives Matter pitch — my father was a decorated Bronx cop, so stow it.) Maybe superior firepower in the hands of every fucker who can afford it is not safe for cops, either. In fact, maybe having more guns than people in this country is part of what's turned every traffic stop into a potential deadly encounter. Maybe the Thin Blue Line should park itself in front of gun manufacturers, the NRA and the elected motherfuckers who so desperately court police endorsements.
Listen to me: The NRA is making it easier to get guns that kill cops and civilians. For all their talk about more guns making us safer, the NRA isn't allowing guns at its own fucking leadership meeting because it's not safe for the former president. Just think of all those good guys it doesn't want carrying guns.
As much as this death cult spikes my urge to burn it all down figuratively and some days literally, I'm not advocating violence. Just that we make every day a nonstop shitshow and see how that works out. That we act like people are easily accessing war-level weapons and killing civilians every day. That we act like they're shooting at fucking children. Because they are.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.