by Walt Amses
Along with the usual bizarre right-wing responses to the tragedy in Dallas, came the conspicuous absence of the usual call for more guns that generally follows mass shootings in this country before the bodies are even cold. Even the bottom feeders at the National Rifle Association were silent regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Perhaps that was because Dallas was the National Rifle Association’s dream scenario. The perfect set of variables to finally prove to all the unbelievers that the basic tenet of their existence: “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun” was accurate. Not only was there a good guy with a gun, there were dozens and many were well trained, members of the Police Department. In addition, there were perhaps 20 to 30 openly armed citizens – this being Texas – openly carrying what appeared to be AR-15, military style “long guns”.
Things didn’t quite work out as smoothly as predicted. The bad guy managed to shoot 12 good guys, killing five before eventually being neutralized – not by a good guy with a gun but by a robot with a bomb. Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said “They (armed citizens) were wearing gas masks, bulletproof vests and camo fatigues, for effect or whatever reason”. He added that when the shooting began “they started to run” and because of that, police on the scene were unable to pinpoint the suspect. Of the state’s open carry laws, the chief said: “Doesn’t make sense to us, but that’s their right in Texas”.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also seemed ready to face reality. “There should be some way to say I shouldn’t bring my shotgun to a Maverick”s game or to a protest because something crazy could happen” He thought the law hurt both citizens and police without offering them any protection: “It’s amazing that you think there is a gunfight going on and you’re supposed to be able to sort out who the good guys and who the bad guys are”.
For anyone but a complete simpleton, Dallas should put to rest the theory that arming the country is a logical way to reduce the number of mass shootings or to end confrontations with the cowboy fantasy of “taking out” the shooter. This would have been the ideal moment to have what has become the National Rifle Association’s mission statement unequivocally confirmed with a decisive win for the good guys, but it didn’t even come close.
So “Gun free zones” are not the problem. The march in Dallas was anything but. And the National Rifle Association’s blaming the victims, as in “if an unarmed person get’s shot, it’s not their fault for being unarmed” is simply no longer viable and they should shut up about it if they want to maintain any credibility at all. Although it’s difficult to identify any credibility they actually have unless you subscribe to their magical thinking.
As if on cue, the second highest elected official in Texas, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – who Tweeted “Man reaps what he sows” hours after the Orlando gay nightclub shooting – blamed Black Lives Matter protesters for the deaths of police officers and suggested the protesters were “hypocrites” for running from the sniper’s bullets, “expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them”. No mention of the armed citizens who also seemed to either run away or contribute to the danger of the situation.
Earlier this year in an interview on CBS, Patrick repeated what has become the sacred mantra of the National Rifle Association: “Where people have guns, bad guys don’t go….Let America have their guns. Let them defend themselves and America will be a safer place”. The events of last week completely eviscerate this argument.
The murderous rampage in Dallas sent shudders through the nation, demonstrating that even those charged with protecting us are unsafe in a culture that worships weaponry above all else and more guns do nothing but exacerbate the madness.
(Walt Amses is a writer and former educator who lives in North Calais)