Imagine you’re the parent of an elementary school child between the ages of 8 and 11. A week ago, you were planning to visit a national park on summer vacation. But then your life was destroyed by a horrendous act of violence. And now, instead, you’re planning to visit a local funeral home and pick out a miniature casket.
This nightmare has been brought to you by the American gun culture, whose appetite for pain and loss is insatiable.
We Americans sure do love our guns, don’t we? In fact with 77 children killed in school shootings since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012 — where 26 people were shot and killed, 20 of them children between the ages of 6 and 7 — you could say we love our guns to death.
All those boys and girls are gone. But not to worry. In this country of ours, the spirit of John Wayne lives on.
As the son of a cop, guns were part of my childhood. And when I got older, I was never hooked. I’ve never understood what I consider to be an unhealthy fascination with firearms. I know grown men who don’t pay their child support but they’ll buy an AR-15 military style assault rifle for $1,200 — and then go back a few weeks later and buy another to complete the set. You want to talk about mental illness. There is a psychosis in this country about how we see guns, and those who stockpile them have it bad.
Meanwhile, Mexican-Americans are so assimilated into the Yankee Doodle Dandy culture of the United States that some of them have also been swept off their feet by this demented love affair.
But do we Americans love our guns more than we love our children? How about other people’s children?
People such as the good folks of Uvalde, Texas, a small town of about 16,000 people — 79 percent of whom are Latino — whose collective hearts are broken. This is the place where you’ll find Robb Elementary School, America’s most recent mass crime scene. It was there, authorities say, that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos — armed with an automatic handgun and a high-powered rifle — shot and killed 19 children and two teachers Tuesday after shooting his own grandmother in the face.
Mark your calendars. Something remarkable came from tragedy.
Some of the darlings of right-wing media — a cohort that likes to tell the rest of us to “get over it” and not to be so easily offended — have found something they find offensive and can’t get over: the suggestion that their slavish devotion to the National Rifle Association makes them indifferent to the slaughter of children, if a high-impact firearm does the slaughtering.
One conservative who got his feelings hurt was podcaster and radio host Ben Shapiro. By the way, this is the same Ben Shapiro who likes to snark to his audience: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
On May 24, the day of the carnage, Shapiro put out a tweet calling “morally reprehensible” the implication that those who oppose more gun laws are “somehow in favor of mass shootings.” The next day, in another tweet, Shapiro said it was “despicably dishonest” for anyone to say that those who oppose gun laws “don’t care enough about slain children.”
Others on the right were triggered by President Joe Biden’s heartfelt remarks from the White House on Tuesday night. Fox News Host Tucker Carlson was so bothered by Biden’s comments that he accused the president of “desecrating the memory of recently murdered children with tired talking points of the Democratic Party, dividing the country in a moment of deep pain rather than uniting.”
Fox News Host Laura Ingraham was also hurt. She called Biden’s words “despicable” and said they reflected a politics that was “selfish.” Ingraham said that the president aimed to “exploit the massacre of innocent little kids in order to try to turn around (his) own sagging poll members.”
Such lovely people. I certainly didn’t intent to hurt their feelings. Who even knew they had any feelings to hurt?
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is email@example.com. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.