Cowards. Betrayers. Accessories

The virtually unlimited access to firearms in the U.S. simply makes it easy for a disgruntled impulse-driven person to have a killing machine an arm's-length away when the red mist descends upon him.

Image Credit: The Trace

Cowards. Betrayers. Accessories to murder. The evidence mounting that Texas police did nothing for forty minutes during the mass murder of children and two adults in Uvalde is the only conceivable thing that could have made this story worse. The ease with which the shooter got his guns; the failure to prevent an event that he gave every indication of planning; and the craven, disgusting, inhuman responses of Texan politicians to the slaughter, all add angst to killings that in and of themselves max out our ability to respond appropriately. How can we absorb the fact that almost 20 cops stood around while children inside the school were being slaughtered? 

One Texas official says “they were afraid of being shot”. What were they doing at the school, taking recess? The shooter was firing for over ten minutes before he entered the building! One revealing moment occurred at the obligatory cover-their-asses news conference, when Beto O’Rourke, rightfully beside himself, berated Texas governor Abbott, Ted Cruz, and other officials on stage. One outraged fellow shouted at O’Rourke, “How dare you bring politics into this!”

What?! Politics caused this massacre. Politics governed every word the phonies on stage were saying. Ted Cruz is slated to speak at the National Rifle Association meeting…Excuse me, did I say “Rifle Association”? How about “National automatic assault weapon, teflon bullet, open carry in schools and public buildings, access to gun purchases for under-21 year olds, machine gun toting Association”? Campaign contributions that buy these debased politicians’ loyalties. The NRA spent $20 million to defeat Hillary and $15 million to support Trump’s election. 

But it’s not all about the campaigns. It’s about the whisper campaigns, the perks on the side when one is identified as “one of us”, someone the gun lobby can depend on. It’s who gets to say a good word when choosing a county commissioner. It’s the same mentality that drove White Citizens’ Councils and their murderous brethren in the segregationist south. You just didn’t get anywhere, politically or in business, if you didn’t tow the line, however much towing the line was in fact groveling in the mud.

Then there are the equivocating voices. Mister Manchin, Trump-voting “Democratic” senator who single-handedly gratified himself by sinking critical economic legislation posed by a moderate Democratic president, proclaimed with suitable gravitas that while he supported some action on gun control, he would not support ditching the filibuster to achieve it. In other words, I’ll say one thing and do another as I so often do. Matthew McConaughey, whose hometown is Uvalde and who has political ambitions in Texas, came out with a heartfelt but mealy mouthed response: it’s everyone’s fault and we just all have to get together and look within and get past our wants and focus on our needs. Thank you, swami, but it’s not everyone’s fault. The fault line runs like a vein of bull-manure through the body politic and is easy to follow because the pro-assault-rifle and hand-held missile launcher lobby and its subalterns are quite open about their goals and methods. McConaughey comes off as one more pol-wannabe terrified of alienating the good ol’ boys and their Stockholm-syndrome gals. He’ll make the perfect Texas politician. Sort of like Texas Senator John Cornyn who was scheduled to speak at the NRA conference but canceled because of an “unexpected change” in his schedule. Yes. Very unexpected but heaven forbid he mention it by name.

Yeah, I know, we Northeast, over-educated urban lib-tards don’t understand the gun culture (an oxymoron equivalent to “national intelligence”). But some do. We understand a grandfather bequeathing his good old fashioned deer rifle to his grandson or grand-daughter and drilling them in the protocols of gun safety and how to read field and forest. Or the historical information that may be contained in a gun collection. Or, as a family member did for two years, carry a shotgun because an armed gang was squatting on his land. Or a cop who carries an unofficial back-up weapon when on dangerous duty. But all those firearms can be purchased legally with an appropriate waiting period and background check. The virtually unlimited access to firearms in the U.S. simply makes it easy for a disgruntled impulse-driven person to have a killing machine an arm’s-length away when the red mist descends upon him.

Access to guns is not the only factor driving these endless massacres. The social disarray this nation faces has more fundamental causes but now is not the time to analyze those complexities. We can do something right now that will have an immense, immediate impact: implement gradated gun control measures. For instance, an established adult community member purchasing an obvious hunting rifle goes through a minimal check with minimum waiting times, while an eighteen year old, with no adult to vouch for them, must be vetted and double-checked and interviewed. And high-powered weapons are simply banned.

I have strong opinions on the subject but the other side is well represented in the current debate. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will be speaking at the NRA conference in Houston, Texas. Other forum members are slated to be Texas Governor Abbott, Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Of course, everyone at the conference is so upset about the killings and promise to pray for the victims. I’m skeptical, though, because if they prayed for all the victims of gun violence in this country they wouldn’t have much time for anything much less running for office and begging the NRA for donations.

The pro-gun lobby, of course, blames any- and everyone else, using suitably twisted and hypocritical arguments. The NRA saluted the first responders…er, the 40-minute responders…for their courage. Two other pro-gun groups blamed politicians and school boards because they won’t post armed guards in every school. That’s their vision of America, a place where armed security guards roam school hallways because, hey, we’re Americans and that’s how we roll.

Oh, by the way, guns will be banned at the NRA conference. Seems they don’t quite trust their own members. Still, I suggest they hire armed guards because, you know, they might not feel safe without a shotgun in their pants no matter how glad they are to see one another.


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Barton Kunstler, Ph.D., writes about creativity, social justice, education, technology, and leadership. His book, The Hothouse Effect, describes the dynamics behind history's most creative communities. Other published work includes poetry, numerous academic articles, and fiction. His monograph for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence addresses leadership's future in light of the human singularity. He writes for and his writings, including a column on communication strategy, appear at He can be reached at