|Neil Heslin and a photo of his son murdered at Sandy Hook testifying in front of a Congressional Committee|
It really was a tale of two cities in the US this past week when the effects of terror played out in front of us all to see. While one showed the powerful and admirable resources of the state in hunting down and capturing dead or alive of the perpetrators, the other showed the mind-boggling failure of a bunch of egregiously self-centered elected officials to pass legislation to help prevent the recurrence of a kind of terrorism that affects the country every single day. You can all guess that the first city is Boston and the tragedy of last Monday’s marathon bombing. The second however is not just one city, but nevertheless is epitomized by the horrific murder of twenty-six people, mainly young children in Sandy Hook late last year. It is in fact every city in the United States, from Boston to San Diego and Seattle to Miami. It is the kind of terror borne in the barrel of a gun and played out in the homes and on the streets of the United States that has taken the lives of over three thousand people since one man walked in to that elementary school in mid-December and proceeded to murder everyone in sight.
I am in no way trying to belittle the shocking deaths of three people and the maiming of nearly two hundred more last Monday. Both examples I have taken are of violence a government, an elected representative should do their best to make sure never happens again. But I couldn’t control my rage looking at the result of the Senate vote where a bill to implement background checks on gun buyers was defeated in a 54-46 vote. It stunned me and then hearing the voice of Neil Heslin, whose six year old was murdered in Sandy Hook, my emotions went from overwhelming sympathy to a personally previously inconceivable sense of anger that has led me to write this article. I am not alone. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a woman who miraculously survived being shot in the head at point blank range at a mass shooting a few years ago penned a heart-wrenching piece on the failure of the vote on Wednesday. It was not a lament but the combination of anger and frustration of a woman who fought for her life after being shot and tried her best to prevent that from happening to herself and others again.
The result of the vote has been spinned by all sides of the political spectrum but I want to make my feelings on it clear and simple. Both Boston and Sandy Hook are examples of terror and therefore in my mind terrorism. While one will result in the full gauntlet of the state security apparatus being implemented which will affect every single individual in the country; from increased patting down at airport security, more intrusion on our privacy and the curtailment of liberty, the other will allow a tiny minority to go about and buy weapons to kill any individual they want with the flimsiest (if any) restrictions. And they do it every day.
Now one can go on about the semantics of terrorism. It is a word saddled with fierce emotion and like many words is almost a term for a whole spectrum of ideas but is dominated by a certain kind. Boston is an example of what we take for granted as terrorism. But what do you call the actions of a gunman in a school, the fear in the hearts and minds of young children as their teachers barricade doors from an evil man and tell the kids they love them so the last overwhelming thing they sense before death is not the brutally sharp piercing of a bullet in their bodies as their lives wilt away? This is just one example. What is it called when someone walks in to a cinema and proceeds to shoot at innocent people watching a movie? The list goes on. The actions are not just to kill but to instill terror.
On Wednesday, Congress prevented the curtailment of a form of terrorism that happens on a daily basis in the United States. It was a bill that was supported by ninety percent of Americans yet it came down to the opinions of a simple hundred individuals in the gilded halls of Washington. In failing to pass the most basic forms of background checks, something even prior to the tragedy of Sandy Hook that brought about the bill in the first place seemed common sense; these fifty self centered puppets of vested interests failed a nation and its people, not to mention the legacy of those children who lost their lives in December. They have taken the survival of their own political lives over the survival of countless thousands who in the future will be murdered in cold blood by guns. It is not just about the children of Sandy Hook, but of future children who will grow up to take a gun and shoot dead the innocent future children of others in the United States.
While Boston brought to us a form of terrorism we have not seen in the United States for years, many of us and most certainly a lot of lawmakers fail to see the terror the unrestricted use of guns has on a nation. Nevertheless it is a crime that politicians have not been accounted for in their failure to prevent from happening on a daily basis. So with the same determination they have shown in the past in preventing traditional terrorism and the unity of belief after Boston, they must do their upmost to prevent people from killing and maiming innocent citizens with guns.